U.S. Terrorist Watchlist Doubles, Now Holds 2 Million People

The U.S. government’s terrorism watchlist has grown to include approximately 2 million people in the two decades since its creation.

The Terrorist Watch List Keeps Growing

An extensive review of court records, government documents and interviews with more than a dozen current and former intelligence community leaders revealed that the consolidated database of individuals has been quietly expanding in number and in who it targets.

The watchlist, which was first launched in 2003 in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks, started with around 120,000 names on it.

The numbers speak for themselves.

When it first launched on Dec. 1, 2003, the consolidated watchlist — now known as the Terrorist Screening Dataset — included approximately 120,000 people.

By 2017, the last publicly confirmed numbers, it included nearly 10 times as many: 1,160,000 individuals.

Now, at the end of 2023, the Terrorist Screening Dataset contains the names of approximately 2 million people the government considers known or suspected terrorists, including thousands of Americans.

“It doesn’t mean they’re a terrorist,” cautioned Russ Travers, a veteran of the U.S. intelligence community for four decades who helped create the watchlist. “It means there’s something that has led a department or agency to say, ‘This person needs a closer look.'”

According to the report, which cited dozens of interviews with current and former intelligence community leaders, the terrorist watchlist has been “quietly expanding in number” and “in who it targets.” The federal government places people on the watchlist if they are “reasonably suspected to be involved in terrorism.”

Thousands of people have complained about being treated like suspected terrorists after being incorrectly added to the list and having limited ability to get their names removed from it.

Lawsuits against the government have claimed that being on the watchlist has prevented people from flying or passing background checks for employment or being unfairly detained by U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies, according to CBS.

Civil liberties advocates have repeatedly warned about its expansion. However, the constitutionality of the list has been challenged and upheld several times throughout the years.

The Department of Homeland Security said in October that it was monitoring a “heightened threat environment” in the U.S. because of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Many people on the terrorist watchlist have attempted to cross the U.S. southern border in the past year as Customs and Border Protection agents have arrested 169 people on the watchlist attempting to illegally enter the country in 2023, up from 98 in 2022, Fox News’ Bill Melugin reported in October. Only 15 people on the terrorist watchlist were arrested attempting to cross into the U.S. in 2021 and three in 2020.

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *