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Friday, July 1, 2011     GET REAL

On U.S. list of countries which 'promote, produce, or protect' terrorists: All of Middle East

WASHINGTON — The United States has deemed that the entire Middle East, including leading allies, were harboring insurgents.


The administration of President Barack Obama has listed 36 countries described as having a "tendency to promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members." The countries include just about the entire Middle East, including Israel, whose visiting nationals would require special treatment by U.S. authorities.

"The purpose of the additional screening is to determine whether other agencies have an interest in the alien," the Homeland Security Department said.

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The department report, titled "Supervision of Aliens Commensurate With Risk," cited such states as Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey on the list of specially-designated countries. The Palestinian Authority was also placed on the list.

Visitors from these countries, all but five with Muslim majorities, were meant to undergo a special security screening called "Third Agency Check" when detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The report by the Homeland Security Department's inspector-general called for all visitors f

rom specially-designated countries to come under intense scrutiny. "ICE's current TAC policy is ineffective because ICE does not perform a TAC for 99 percent of the population of aliens from SDCs," the report said. "According to ICE, TACs have resulted in high-profile prosecutions of suspected terrorists."

Officials said many of the Middle East states on the list of "specially designated countries" were cooperating with U.S. authorities in counter-insurgency. They said the list was drafted in 2004 and was based on the type of visitors from these countries rather than the nature of their governments.

"The United States maintains close intelligence-sharing relationships with many of these countries in order to address security issues within their own borders and in our mutual pursuit of safety and security around the globe," ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said.

Officials said U.S. authorities could intensify screening under a new counter-insurgency policy by the Obama administration.

On June 29, Obama's intelligence adviser John Brennan said Washington continued to regard Al Qaida as the leading insurgency threat.

"Al Qaida seeks to bleed us financially by drawing us into long, costly wars that also inflame anti-American sentiment," Brennan said.

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