None of the members of the Islamic State or ISIS believed to be responsible for the six attacks across Paris on Friday were on the U.S. no fly lists. The terrorist attacks on Paris last week evidence gaps in information sharing between the United States and its trusted allies.
Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. government created the “no fly list” as a safeguard to flag potential terrorists before they board commercial airliners. A critical component in the effort to combat terrorism is information sharing, between federal, state and local government agencies and with other countries. On Monday, the Associated Press reported that senior Iraqi intelligence officials warned members of the U.S. led coalition fighting ISIS of imminent assaults by the militant organization the day before last week’s deadly attacks in Paris. A senior U.S. intelligence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity said he was not aware of any threat information sent to Western governments that was specific enough to have thwarted the Paris attacks.
One of the suspected Paris attackers, Omar Ismail Mostefai, identified by using imprints taken from a severed finger found at Bataclan concert hall was known to French police as a petty criminal who had become radicalized. Mostafai spent several months in Syria in late 2013 and early 2014, a source close to the investigation said. Mostefai’s petty criminal background was not shared with U.S. authorities. In January, 2015, the backgrounds of Said and Chérif Kouachi, two brothers behind an attack on a Jewish deli landed the two on both U.S. and British no-fly lists, but French authorities decided in 2013 that they no longer presented a security threat.
Several recent reports evidence that inclusion on the U.S. terrorist watch lists and no fly lists does little to protect American citizens from terrorism. In June, 2015, a report by the United States Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general revealed the TSA missed 73 airport workers with links to terrorist organizations. The OIG report came on the heels of another report in which undercover federal agents announced TSA screeners failed to detect mock explosives and weapons in ninety five percent of routine airport screening tests conducted.
The United States Department of Homeland Security and FBI officials maintain there is no known credible terrorist threat to America. A video released by ISIS on Monday warned that any country retaliating against the terrorist group would suffer the same fate, and threatened specifically to target Washington, D.C.. It is unclear why U.S. officials do not consider the direct threat by ISIS as a credible threat.