Gardner, Colleagues Call for Answers on Homegrown Terror

Washington – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), along with ten Senate colleagues, announced today that they have sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and Secretary of State John Kerry asking for answers on several questions related to domestic terror.

Following a failure of the background check system which in 2013 allowed two terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda to settle in Bowling Green, Kentucky, numerous calls to reform the system emerged. The Senators’ letter asks the recipients whether any recommendations for changes were made as a result of these events, what the results were of the FBI’s subsequent investigation of related terrorists, and whether there are any former or current known terrorists who are currently part of the refugee program.

The full letter, also signed by Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John Cornyn (R-TX), David Vitter (R-LA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tim Scott (R-SC), is below:                                                                                                               

Dear Director Comey, Secretary Johnson, and Secretary Kerry:

In 2013, a failure to screen Iraqi refugees allowed two al Qaeda-linked terrorists to settle in Bowling Green, KY.  ABC News reported that these arrests led to a 6-month suspension of the refugee program and an FBI investigation of dozens of suspected terrorists.[1]

An ABC News investigation in 2013 reported that a “flawed system of U.S. background checks” allowed Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, two al Qaeda in Iraq (now called ISIS) terrorists who were part of a bomb-making group responsible for dozens of roadside bombs, one of which killed four members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

After a tip led the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to begin investigating Alwan and Hammadi, the FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC) managed to match Alwan’s fingerprints to those found on an unexploded roadside bomb discovered by U.S. troops in Iraq years earlier.  Alwan and Hammadi were arrested two years later in an FBI sting operation attempting to send arms and explosives, including Stinger missiles, to insurgents in Iraq.  Our law enforcement and intelligence communities deserve great praise for stopping these terrorists from killing more Americans. Yet the terrorists should have never been given the chance.

1)      Were there recommendations made to the refugee program as a result of this incident?

2)      What are the findings from the FBI investigation on the other dozens of suspected terrorists?

3)      Are there former or current known terrorists in the U.S. as part of the refugee program?


We look forward to a timely response that we can share with the American people.


Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.