Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) referred to the series of Harrisburg shootings that targeted police on Friday as a “terror attack,” and said that “extended family chain migration” has been exploited by terrorists who want to harm the U.S.
DHS acting press secretary Tyler Houlton made the declarations in a tweet on Saturday.
“The Department of Homeland Security can confirm the suspect involved in a terror attack in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and another suspect arrested on terror-related money laundering charges were both beneficiaries of extended family chain migration,” Houlton wrote.
He explained that the Harrisburg shooter, 51-year-old Ahmen Aminamin El-Mofty, “was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was admitted to the United States from Egypt on a family-based immigrant visa…The long chain of migration that led to the suspect’s admission into the United States was initiated years ago by a distant relative of the suspect.”
El-Mofty, 51, was killed by police after he opened fire on police and police vehicles at multiple locations in Pennsylvania’s capital on Friday afternoon.
A Pennsylvania State Police trooper was shot, and sustained minor injuries.
“There’s no doubt he was directly targeting police officers,” Daupin County District Attorney Ed Marsico told WGAL shortly after the shooting spree.
Following the gunfire, investigators said they were working to determine whether this was an act of terrorism. Authorities said that El-Mofty had “ties to the Middle East” and had “recently traveled to the Middle East.”
Houlton’s statement also mentioned Zoobia Shahnaz, who was indicted on Dec. 14 after investigators said she laundered over $85,000 to the Islamic State, FOX News reported.
“Separately, Zoobia Shahnaz, who has been charged with laundering bitcoins to support ISIS, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who came to the United States from Pakistan on an F43 visa,” Houlton tweeted. “The F43 visa is available to the children of F41 visa holders who were sponsored by other family members that obtained citizenship.”
President Trump has long decried the chain migration system, and instead favors a merit-based vetting protocol that considers applicants’ education and potential employment opportunities, FOX News reported.
“Both chain migration and the diversity visa lottery program have been exploited by terrorists to attack our country,” Houlton said. “Not only are the programs less effective at driving economic growth than merit-based immigration systems used by nearly all other countries, the programs make it more difficult to keep dangerous people out of the United States and to protect the safety of every American.”
Local authorities have not confirmed whether they consider El-Mofty’s shooting spree to be a terror attack, CNN reported.