Every week brings new reports of Muslims in America flocking to join ISIS. Those who aren’t killed in battle will eventually return to New York, to Los Angeles and to Minneapolis–Saint Paul.
And they will stop being Iraq’s problem and become our problem.
ISIS is more than just another terrorist group. It is now an Islamic State. Its followers and allied militias pledge to obey the Caliph of ISIS and reject all allegiances to other states and entities. Western ISIS recruits burn their passports to show that they are no longer citizens of those countries.
Like most Salafists, ISIS members see our system of law and government as idolatry and heresy.
Fort Hood Jihadist Nidal Hasan, who recently applied to join ISIS, had earlier written that he would “renounce any oaths of allegiances that require me to support/defend any man made constitution (like the Constitution of the United States) over the commandments mandated in Islam.”
“I therefore formally renounce my oath of office as well as any other implicit or explicit oaths I have made in the past … This includes my oath of U.S. citizenship,” Hasan declared.
By his own admission, Nidal Hasan is no longer a United States citizen. He should be promptly denaturalized. So should every ISIS member and anyone who supports the Islamic State.
The oath of citizenship that Hasan was retroactively rejecting states, “I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.”
ISIS members have pledged their allegiance to a foreign prince and a foreign state. Denaturalizing them should be a mere formality.
Anwar Al-Awlaki, Hasan’s mentor, whose American citizenship became such an issue for the left when he was killed in a drone strike, was clear in his lectures that he was at war with America, that “Muslims in the West should see their stay there as temporary” before leaving to build an Islamic State in the Middle East and that Muslims shouldn’t even vote in America because they would be participating in “a disbelieving system, in a disbelieving country.”
Like Hasan, he did not consider himself an American in any way, shape or form.
In the past the United States had denaturalized Nazis and Communists and even specifically targeted foreign agitators linked to the Nazis and Communists, denaturalized them and then deported them.
Recently Obama Inc. found the time to have two former Guatemalan soldiers accused of committing atrocities against a village linked to Communist guerrillas in the so-called Dos Erres massacre back in the 1980s stripped of their citizenship.
Other denaturalization targets under his administration included two Serbians, an Ethiopian Marxist who took part in the 70s Red Terror and a woman involved in the Rwandan genocide.
None of the denaturalized were Muslim terrorists posing a current national security threat. And yet if we are to have a strategy against ISIS, denaturalizing its members will accomplish more than air strikes.
The modern Jihadist threat had at its core a group of fighters who trained and fought in Afghanistan during and after the Soviet invasion. These fighters went on to lead terrorist groups and stage attacks. But the battlefields of the Arab Spring will produce a new wave of threats on an unprecedented scale. Muslims in the West, especially converts to Islam, who have gone to join ISIS will return with training, battlefield experience and a plan. It’s far more urgent to keep them out than to deport war criminals.
A serious ISIS strategy has to address not the flow of fighters from the United States, as Obama has proposed to do, but the flow of fighters coming into the United States. If ISIS members want to travel to fight in Iraq and Syria, they should be allowed to do so.
By joining the Islamic State, they have disavowed their allegiance to the United States. Their citizenship is now only a passport of convenience that they will burn as soon as they make their way into Syria.
It’s far more important to keep them from coming back than to keep them from leaving.
If the United States can denaturalize foreign soldiers for being part of units linked to war crimes, as it has under Obama, it has the obligation to pursue the denaturalization of anyone who chooses to affiliate with an organization such as ISIS which has committed undeniable war crimes.
While the legal grounds for denaturalization won’t be the same since some of those being denaturalized did not have terrorist histories and may have even been born in the United States, the policy basis is clear. Despite the various dubious Supreme Court attempts to strike down the denaturalization power of Congress, there are still clear standards for denaturalization.
Joseph Lieberman and Scott Brown introduced the Terrorist Expatriation Act back in 2010 which would have added providing material support to terrorists as a basis for denaturalization leading to hysterical reactions on the left and the right. Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann have followed that up with their own bills now.
But such an explicit addition isn’t strictly necessary; particularly in the case of the Islamic State. Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act anyone voluntarily “committing any act of treason”, bearing arms against the United States or plotting to conquer it will lose his citizenship.
While establishing this has proven tricky in the past due to the preponderance of evidence standard, ISIS represents a clear case because its fighters travel voluntarily from the United States for that purpose and because the Islamic State’s creed explicitly repudiates citizenship in anything but the new Caliphate. It is clearly apparent that any American citizen joining ISIS intends to abandon his citizenship. He is not only serving in a foreign army, but he is joining an organization whose very reason for existence is precluded on a rejection of states and manmade documents such as the United States Constitution.
Furthermore if Obama were to admit that the United States is at war with ISIS, its fighters would also be guilty of bearing arms against the United States. However even without this admission, ISIS has made sufficient threats and has now murdered two Americans. There is no serious doubt that we are at war.
Unlike the Taliban, some of whose American members argued that they had not originally been in conflict with the United States, ISIS originated in conflict with the United States and its creed explicitly calls for the perpetuation of conflict not only with the United States, but with the rest of the world.
The Islamic State’s founding declaration urged all the Muslims of the world to gather to it, “So rush O Muslims and gather around your Caliphate, so that you may return as you once were for ages, kings of the earth and knights of war… By Allah, if you disbelieve in democracy, secularism, nationalism, as well as all the other garbage and ideas from the west, and rush to your religion and creed, then by Allah, you will own the earth, and the east and west will submit to you.”
The Muslim fighters rushing to join ISIS hoping to be its “kings of the earth” and “knights of war” and to force the east and west to submit to it are at war with the United States. They have given their allegiance to a foreign power that promises them that they will rule over Americans.
Both attacks on the World Trade Center were carried out by terrorists who should not have been allowed into the United States. It’s time we learned the lessons of those attacks.
ISIS members and supporters like Nidal Hasan are eager to abandon their American citizenship. It’s our own government that is standing in the way.
It’s useless to bomb ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, if we let them march through our airports.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century. He blogs at Sultan Knish.