WASHINGTON: The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating around 300 refugees admitted into the United States for suspected terror-linked activities, US officials said Monday.
The officials gave the figure as justification for a just-announced 120-day halt on admitting refugees from any country to review security vetting procedures.
"Today more than 300 people, according to the FBI, who came here as refugees are under an FBI investigation today for potential terrorism-related activities," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
"Many people seeking to support or commit terrorist acts will enter through our refugee program," he said.
On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order halting for 90 days from March 16 new immigration from six majority-Muslim nations in addition to the temporary refugee ban.
Speaking anonymously, an official from the Department of Homeland Security said the 300 were in addition to ongoing investigations into some 1,000 "potential domestic terrorists" inside the United States either inspired by or motivated by the Islamic State group.
The DHS official did not give any details on where the 300 refugees came from or how many might have come from the six Muslim-majority countries targeted by the new travel ban.
"The salient fact here is that there are 300 individuals admitted and welcomed to the United States in the refugee admissions program who either infiltrated with hostile intent or who radicalised after admission to the United States," he said.
The new travel ban, a revision of the January 27 executive order which was blocked by a federal judge, kept in place a reduction of refugee admissions to 50,000 a year, cut from the 110,000 proposed for this year by the previous administration of president Barack Obama.