Blackburn, Judiciary Republicans Demand Answers From State, DHS And FBI On Terrorist Who Attacked Texas Synagogue

January 27, 2022

NASHVILLE, TENN. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and a group of Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), are demanding answers from each federal agency charged with protecting Americans from terrorists like Malik Faisal Akram, the British national who held four people hostage at Beth Israel Congregation in Colleyville, Texas.


Akram was admitted to the United States despite his criminal record and security investigations by British domestic intelligence.


“In light of the numerous red flags in Akram’s record, we are extremely concerned about the adequacy of our visa adjudication and admission screening protocols. As Akram’s own brother told reporters: ‘How had he gotten into America? … Why was he granted a visa? How did he land at J.F.K. airport and not get stopped for one second?’” the senators wrote to the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security.


The lawmakers requested a number of records including a copy of Akram’s “A-File” — the record maintained by the Department of Homeland Security for each foreign-born individual who enters the United States — and raised questions regarding issues such as the security information sharing agreement between the United States and United Kingdom under the Visa Waiver Program. They further asked detailed questions about the process through which Akram apparently entered the United States without significant scrutiny, especially in light of previous concerns about terrorists utilizing the Visa Waiver Program.


In addition to their inquiry to the Departments of State and Homeland Security, the senators sought information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the agency’s intelligence sharing relationship with the United Kingdom, and its communications with British counterparts before and after Akram’s attack. They also raised questions about what information relating to Akram was contained in available databases, including his criminal history and data shared by international partners.


Senators Blackburn and Grassley were joined by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Kennedy (R-La.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).


Full text of the senators’ letter to the State Department and DHS can be found HERE. Their full letter to the FBI can be found HERE.