WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel was included erroneously on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security terrorist watch list, a U.S. official said.
John Morton, the director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the department, said Israel’s recent appearance on a list compiled by the department’s office of the inspector general was a mistake.
"The addition of Israel in the OIG’s list of ICE’s ‘Third-Agency Checks’ (TAC) was based on inaccurate information provided to the OIG during the course of its audit," Morton said in a statement sent by e-mail to JTA. "The U.S. does not and never has considered Israel to have links to terrorism, but rather they are a partner in our efforts to combat global terrorism. The United States maintains close intelligence-sharing relationships with Israel in order to address security issues within its own borders and in our mutual pursuit of safety and security around the globe."
The list does not fault government policies and instead recognizes the likelihood that a suspect traveler from that country might have terrorist ties.
If a traveler from one of the countries is detained, the country’s inclusion on the list triggers a special check by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The list, attached to a May 10 document from the DHS Inspector General’s office, was reported last week by CNS News, a conservative news service.
The list of 36 nations includes a number of other close U.S. allies such as Turkey, Bahrain, Morocco and Philippines, as well as nations beset by internal fighting like Sudan and Somalia.