An unidentified Syrian refugee thought to be living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is apparently missing and reportedly may be “headed to Washington, D.C.”
That was the word after a day of contradictory official and media reports sparking worries in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks and subsequent vows by ISIS that Washington and New York City are next on the group’s target list.
At least one of the Paris attackers that killed at least 129 people posed as a Syrian refugee using a fake passport, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who is seeking his state’s governorship, told The Hayride political news site that Louisiana State Police told him they don’t know the refugee’s exact whereabouts, and that “officials said the refugee is believed to be headed to Washington, D.C.”
Earlier Monday, The Hayride said the Syrian refugee was missing, but state law enforcement officials contradicted that claim, saying “they do know the location of the so-called ‘missing’ Syrian refugee.”
The Hayride also posted a report Monday detailing allege problems with the vetting process being used to screen refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. The flawed process has already allowed terrorists to slip into the U.S., the publication claimed.
Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner told CNN, however, that the vetting process is “the most stringent security process for anyone entering the United States.”
Meanwhile, 31 governors have said they will not accept Syrian refugees into their state.
Republican presidential aspirant and outgoing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, for example, signed an executive order to prevent Syrian refugees from settling in his state. Jindal spokesman Mike Reed told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the governor would sue the federal government if necessary to prevent Syrian refugees from being resettled in the state.
Other governors, however, support Obama’s decisions to accept 10,000 more Syrian refugees over the next year.
“The U.S. accepts refugees, including Syrians, only after they are subjected to the most vigorous and highest level of screening and security vetting,” Democratic Hawaii Gov. David Ige said in a statement.
The U.S. refugee vetting process has already repeatedly failed in recent years.
The Boston Bombers, for example, were Chechen refugees, though U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Refugee Affairs Division chief Barbara Strack was unaware of that as recently as October, the DCNF previously reported.
Additionally, FBI Director James Comey told the House Committee on Homeland Security that the federal government is unable to conduct thorough background checks on all Syrian refugees, the Daily Caller reported.
“We can only query against that which we collected,” Comey said. “And so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing showing up because we have no record of them.”
Also on Monday, as public opposition to allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. appeared to intensify, the Washington Post reported that “several high-level administration officials have warned in recent months just how challenging this can be. While they say U.S. security measures are much better than in the past, vetting Syrian refugees poses a quandary: How do you screen people from a war-torn country that has few criminal and terrorist databases to check?”
The Post story may prefigure Obama administration attempts to backtrack on the chief executive’s repeated vow to accept thousands of Syrian refugees despite the Paris attacks.