White House's own terrorism list torpedoes the case for travel ban

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Story highlights

  • Peter Bergen: The White House's list of 78 terror attacks is devoid of evidence for President Trump's immigration order
  • Few who made attacks came from those countries; French, US citizens were responsible for more attacks, list shows

Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of "United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists."

(CNN)The White House's list of 78 "major terrorist attacks targeting the West" is strikingly devoid of evidence to support President Trump's halt to immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Conspicuous by their absence on the White House list of terrorists carrying out major attacks against Western targets were Iraqis, Somalis, Sudanese and Yemenis, who are from four of the seven Muslim countries that the Trump administration is seeking to suspend travel from. (Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said there were no Libyans on the White House list of attackers. This article has been updated to reflect the omission.)
Instead, the incidents listed on the White House terrorism list identified France, the United States and Belgium as the countries supplying the most anti-Western terrorists.
With great fanfare on Monday the White House released a list of 78 terrorist attacks since September 2014. A White House official described them as "major terrorist attacks targeting the West."
The list was released after President Trump's claim that the media is under-covering terrorist attacks, a contention that is not borne out by the evidence.
The White House's own terrorism list underlines the arbitrary nature of the travel ban because, by the White House's own account, the countries that are generating the most significant number of terrorists threatening the West are in the West.
The list also underlines the fact that it is American citizens who largely foment terrorism in the United States. This is also the case in countries such as France and Belgium, where it is French and Belgian citizens who are often the ones conducting significant acts of terrorism.
Of the total of 90 terrorists on the White House list, at most nine are from travel ban countries.
Indeed, 50 of the terrorists — more than half -- are from Christian-majority countries in the West.
On the list, which includes the identities of attackers where they are known, France leads the way with 16 French terrorists, followed by the United States with 13 American terrorists, 11 of whom are US citizens and two of whom are legal permanent residents.
Of these 29 American and French terrorists, only two even have family origins in travel ban countries and they are both from Somalia.
Belgium comes in third place with seven terrorists.
In descending order after that are:
--Tunisians (6),
--Libyans and Bengalis are tied with 5,
--Saudis (4),
--Syrians, Algerians and Indonesians are tied with 3 each;
--Afghans, Australians, Bosnians, Canadians, Danes, Germans, Russians and Turks are tied with two each and
--One each from Chad, Egypt, the Emirates, Iran, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
These findings may cause a problem for the White House as it makes the argument that citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen are particularly likely to foment anti-Western terrorism, when the White House's own terrorism list demonstrates that this is not the case.
For example, an unspecified number of Filipinos participated in a botched attempt to blow up a bomb outside the US embassy in Manila last year.
In 15 of the 78 attacks the perpetrators have not been identified.
I took the White House terrorism list and grouped it by nationalities below. The countries with the largest number of identified terrorists are at the beginning, while attacks where the perpetrator was not identified are listed at the end. The wording added by me is in boldface.
FRENCH
TOURS, FRANCE
December, 2014
TARGET: Three police officers wounded in knife attack
ATTACKER: Bertrand Nzohabonayo (French citizen, convert from Burundi)
PARIS, FRANCE
January, 2015
TARGET: One police officer and four hostages killed in shooting at a kosher supermarket
ATTACKER: Amedy Coulibaly (French citizen born in France, family from Mali)
NICE, FRANCE
February, 2015
TARGET: Two French soldiers wounded in knife attack outside a Jewish community center
ATTACKER: Moussa Coulibaly (French originally from Mali)
LYON, FRANCE
June, 2015
TARGET: One civilian killed in beheading and explosion at a chemical plant
ATTACKER: Yasin Salhi (French of Moroccan-Algerian descent)
MAGNANVILLE, FRANCE
June, 2016
TARGET: One police officer and one civilian killed in knife attack
ATTACKER: Larossi Abballa (French, born in France, family origin not clear)
NORMANDY, FRANCE
July, 2016
TARGET: One priest killed in knife attack
ATTACKERS: Adel Kermiche (French-Algerian) and Abdel Malik Nabil Petitjean (French, from eastern France)
PARIS, FRANCE
September, 2016
TARGET: One police officer wounded in raid after VBIED failed to detonate at Notre Dame Cathedral
ATTACKERS: Sarah Hervouet, Ines Madani, and Amel Sakaou (French, family origins French or unclear. )
QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
August, 2016
TARGET: Two killed and one wounded in knife attack at a hostel frequented by Westerners
ATTACKER: Smail Ayad (French, family origin unclear)
PARIS, FRANCE
November, 2015
TARGET: At least 129 killed and approximately 400 wounded in series of shootings and IED attacks
ATTACKERS: Brahim Abdelslam, (French, Moroccan-Algerian family) Saleh Abdeslam, (French, Moroccan descent) Ismail Mostefai, (French, family origin not clear) Bilal Hadfi, (French, Moroccan descent) Samy Amimour, (French, Algerian descent) Foued Mohamed Aggad, (French, Algerian-Moroccan descent)
AMERICANS
NEW YORK CITY, NY, USA
October, 2014
TARGET: Two police officers wounded in knife attack
ATTACKER: US person (American citizen, African-American)
GARLAND, TX, USA
May, 2015
TARGET: One security guard wounded in shooting at the Prophet Muhammad cartoon event
ATTACKERS: Two US persons (Americans, one had a father from Pakistan, the other was African-American)
BOSTON, MA, USA
June, 2015
TARGET: No casualties; one police officer attacked with knife
ATTACKER: US person (American, African-American)
MERCED, CA, US
November, 2015
TARGET: Four wounded in knife attack on a college campus
ATTACKER: US person (American, family originally from Pakistan)
SAN BERNARDINO, CA
December, 2015
TARGET: 14 killed and 21 wounded in coordinated firearms attack
ATTACKERS: Two US persons (American citizen whose family emigrated from Pakistan and legal permanent resident, originally from Pakistan.)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
January, 2016
TARGET: One police officer wounded in shooting
ATTACKER: US person (American, African-American)
COLUMBUS, OH, US
February, 2016
TARGET: Four civilians wounded in machete attack at a restaurant
ATTACKER: US person (American, originally from Guinea)
ORLANDO, FL, US
June, 2016
TARGET: 49 killed and 53 wounded in shooting at a nightclub
ATTACKER: US person (American, family originally from Afghanistan.)
ST. CLOUD, MN, US
September, 2016
TARGET: 10 wounded in knife attack in a mall
ATTACKER: Dahir Ahmed Adan (American, family originally from Somalia.)
NEW YORK, NY; SEASIDE PARK AND ELIZABETH, NJ, US
September, 2016
TARGET: 31 wounded in bombing in New York City; several explosive devices found in New York and New Jersey; one exploded without casualty at race in New Jersey; one police officer wounded in shootout
ATTACKER: Ahmad Khan Rahami (American citizen, born in Afghanistan.)
COLUMBUS, OH, US
November, 2016
TARGET: 14 wounded by individuals who drove a vehicle into a group of pedestrians and attacked them with a knife
ATTACKER: US person (American legal resident, originally from Somalia.)
BELGIANS
These Belgians were both involved in the Paris attacks in November 2015
Chakib Ahrouh, (Belgian-Moroccan)
and Abdelhamid Abaaoud (Belgian-Moroccan)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
March, 2016
TARGET: At least 31 killed and 270 wounded in coordinated bombings at Zaventem Airport and on a subway train
ATTACKERS: Khalid el-Bakraoui, (Belgian) Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, (Belgian) Najim Laachraoui (Belgian-Moroccan), Mohammed Abrini (Belgian)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
October, 2016
TARGET: Two police officers wounded in stabbing
ATTACKER Belgian national
TUNISIANS
NICE, FRANCE
July, 2016
TARGET: 84 civilians killed and 308 wounded by an individual who drove a truck into a crowd
ATTACKER: Mohamed Bouhlel (Tunisian)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA
June, 2015
TARGET: 38 killed and 39 wounded in shooting at a beach frequented by westerners
ATTACKERS: Seifeddine Rezgui (Tunisian)
PARIS, FRANCE
January, 2016
TARGET: No casualties; attacker killed after attempted knife attack on Paris police station
ATTACKER: Tarek Belgacem (Tunisian)
TUNIS, TUNISIA
March, 2015
TARGET: 21 tourists killed, including 16 westerners, and 55 wounded in shooting at the Bardo Museum
ATTACKERS: Two ISIL-aligned extremists (Tunisians)
BERLIN, GERMANY
December, 2016
TARGET: 12 killed and 48 wounded by individual who drove truck into a crowded market
ATTACKER: Anis Amri (Tunisian)
LIBYANS
TRIPOLI, LIBYA
January, 2015
TARGET: Ten killed, including one US citizen, and five wounded in bombing and shooting at a hotel frequented by westerners
ATTACKERS: As many as five ISIL-Libya members (Libyans)
BENGALIS
DHAKA, BANGLADESH
July, 2016
TARGET: 22 killed, including one American and 50 wounded after hours-long siege using machetes and firearms at holy Artisan Bakery
ATTACKERS: Nibras Islam, Rohan Imtiaz, Meer Saameh Mubasheer, Khairul Islam Paye, and Shafiqul Islam Uzzal (Bengalis)
SAUDIS
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA
November, 2014
TARGET: One Danish citizen wounded in shooting
ATTACKERS: Three Saudi Arabia-based ISIL members (Saudis)
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA
January, 2015
TARGET: Two US citizens wounded in shooting
ATTACKER: Saudi Arabia-based ISIL supporter (Saudi)
SYRIANS
ANSBACH, GERMANY
July, 2016
TARGET: At least 15 wounded in suicide bombing at a music festival
ATTACKER: Mohammad Daleel (Syrian)
MALMO, SWEDEN
October, 2016
TARGET: No casualties; mosque and community center attacked with Molotov cocktail
ATTACKER: Syrian national
ISTANBUL, TURKEY
January, 2016
TARGET: 12 German tourists killed and 15 wounded in suicide bombing
ATTACKER: Nabil Fadli (Syrian)
ALGERIANS
TIZI OUZOU, ALGERIA
September, 2014
TARGET: One French citizen beheaded
ATTACKER: Jund al-Khilafah in Algeria (Algerian)
PARIS, FRANCE
April, 2015
TARGET: Catholic churches targeted; one civilian killed in shooting, possibly during an attempted carjacking
ATTACKER: Sid Ahmed Ghlam (Algerian immigrant)
CHARLEROI, BELGIUM
August, 2016
TARGET: Two police officers wounded in machete attack
ATTACKER: Khaled Babouri (Algerian)
INDONESIANS
JAKARTA, INDONESIA
January, 2016
TARGET: Four civilians killed and more than 20 wounded in coordinated bombing and firearms attacks near a police station and a Starbucks
ATTACKERS: Dian Joni Kurnaiadi, Muhammad Ali, Arif Sunakim, and Ahmad Muhazan bin Saron (Indonesians)
AFGHANS
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
September, 2014
TARGET: Two police officers wounded in knife attack
ATTACKER: Abdul Numan Haider (Afghan)
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
June, 2016
TARGET: 14 killed in suicide attack on a bus carrying Canadian Embassy guards
ATTACKER: ISIL-Khorasan operative (Afghan)
AUSTRALIANS
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
December, 2014
TARGET: Two Australians killed in hostage taking and shooting
ATTACKER: Man Haron Monis (Australian citizen)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
September, 2016
TARGET: One civilian wounded in knife attack
ATTACKER: Ihsas Khan (Australian)
CANADIANS
QUEBEC, CANADA
October, 2014
TARGET: One soldier killed and one wounded in vehicle attack
ATTACKER: Martin Couture-Rouleau (Canadian convert)
OTTAWA, CANADA
October, 2014
TARGET: One soldier killed at war memorial; two wounded in shootings at Parliament building
ATTACKER: Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (Libyan Canadian)
DANISH
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
February, 2015
TARGET: One civilian killed in shooting at a free-speech rally and one security guard killed outside the city's main synagogue
ATTACKER: Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein (Danish citizen)
COPENHAGEN, DENMAKR
September, 2016
TARGET: Two police officers and a civilian wounded in shooting
ATTACKER: Mesa Hodzic (Danish)
BOSNIANS
ZVORNIK, BOSNIA
April, 2015
TARGET: One police officer killed and two wounded in shooting
ATTACKER: Nerdin Ibric (Bosnian)
RAJLOVAC, BOSNIA
December, 2015
TARGET: Two Bosnian soldiers killed in shooting
ATTACKER: Enes Omeragic (Bosnian)
GERMANS
HANOVER, GERMANY
February, 2016
TARGET: One police officer wounded in knife attack
ATTACKER: Safia Schmitter (German-Moroccan)
WURZBURG, GERMANY
July, 2016
TARGET: Four civilians wounded in axe attack on a train
ATTACKER: Riaz Khan Ahmadzai (German-Pakistani)
RUSSIANS
ISTANBUL, TURKEY
June, 2016
TARGET: 45 killed and approximately 240 wounded at Ataturk International Airport
ATTACKERS: Rakhim Bulgarov, Vadim Osmanov, and an unidentified ISIL operative (Russians)
TURKS
MARSEILLES, FRANCE
January, 2016
TARGET: One Jewish teacher wounded in machete attack
ATTACKER: 15 year-old Ethnic Kurd from Turkey (Turk)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY
March, 2016
TARGET: Four killed and 36 wounded in suicide bombing in the tourist district
ATTACKER: Mehmet Ozturk (Turk)
EMIRATIS
ABU DHABI, UAE
DATE: December 2014
TARGET: One American killed in knife attack
ATTACKER: Dalal al-Hashimi (Emirati)
PAKISTANI
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
April, 2015
TARGET: One US citizen wounded in knife attack
ATTACKERS: Pakistan-based ISIL supporters (Pakistani)
MOROCCANS
PARIS, FRANCE
August, 2015
TARGET: Two civilians and one US soldier wounded with firearms and knife on a passenger train
ATTACKER: Ayoub el-Khazzani (Moroccan)
PALESTINIANS
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
September, 2015
TARGET: One police officer wounded in knife attack
ATTACKER: Palestinian national (Palestinian)
IRAN-BORN AUSTRALIAN
PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA
October, 2015
TARGET: One police officer killed in shooting
ATTACKER: Farhad Jabar (Iranian born Australian)
BRITISH
LONDON
December, 2015
TARGET: Three wounded in knife attack at an underground rail station
ATTACKER: Muhyadin Mire (British citizen)
EGYPTIAN
KUWAIT CITY, KUWAIT
TARGET: No casualties; vehicle carrying three US soldiers hit by a truck
ATTACKER: Ibrahim Sulayman (Egyptian)
November, 2016
CHADIAN
TARGET: No casualties; attacker arrested after opening fire at entrance of US Embassy
ATTACKER: Chadian national (Chad)
SWEDISH
One of the 2016 Brussels attackers is Osama Krayem (Swedish)
UNIDENTIFIED ATTACKERS
MANILA, PHILIPPINES
November, 2016
TARGET: No casualties; failed IED attempt near US Embassy
ATTACKERS: Philippine nationals aligned with the Maute group (Unspecified number of Filipinos)
KARAK, JORDAN
December, 2016
TARGET: 10 killed and 28 wounded in shooting at a tourist site
ATTACKERS: Several gunmen
EL GORA (AL JURAH), EGYPT
June, 2015
TARGET: No casualties; camp used by Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) troops attacked in shooting and bombing attack
ATTACKERS: Unknown number of ISIL-Sinai members
HAMBURG, GERMANY
October, 2016
TARGET: One killed in knife attack
ATTACKER: Unknown
LUXOR, EGYPT
June, 2015
TARGET: One police officer killed by suicide bomb near the Temple of Karnak
ATTACKER: Unidentified
HASANAH, EGYPT
October, 2015
TARGET: 224 killed in downing of a Russian airliner
ATTACKER: Unidentified ISIL-Sinai operatives
DINAJPUR, BANGLADESH
November, 2015
TARGET: One Italian citizen wounded in shooting
ATTACKER: Unidentified
CAIRO, EGYPT
July, 2015
TARGET: One killed and nine wounded in VBIED attack at Italian Consulate
ATTACKER: Unidentified ISIL operatives
CAIRO, EGYPT
July, 2015
TARGET: One Croatian national kidnapped; beheaded on August 12 at an unknown location
ATTACKER: Unidentified ISIL-Sinai operative
EL GORA, EGYPT
September, 2015
TARGET: Four US and two MFO troops wounded in IED attack
ATTACKER: Unidentified
DHAKA, BANGLADESH
September, 2015
TARGET: One Italian civilian killed in shooting
ATTACKER: Unidentified
EL GORA, EGYPT
October, 2015
TARGET: No casualties; airfield used by MFO attacked with rockets
ATTACKER: Unidentified ISIL-Sinai operatives
RANGPUR, BANGLADESH
October, 2015
TARGET: One Japanese civilian killed in shooting
ATTACKER: Unidentified
DERBENT, RUSSIA
December, 2015
TARGET: One killed and 11 wounded in shooting at UN World Heritage site
ATTACKER: Unidentified ISIL-Caucasus operative
CAIRO, EGYPT
January, 2016
TARGET: Two wounded in drive-by shooting outside a hotel frequented by tourists
ATTACKERS: Unidentified ISIL operatives
HURGHADA, EGYPT
January, 2016
TARGET: One German and one Danish national wounded in knife attack at a tourist resort
ATTACKER: Unidentified
ESSEN, GERMANY
April, 2016
TARGET: Three wounded in bombing at Sikh temple
ATTACKERS: Three identified minors