Army National Guard Soldier with Security Clearance Arrested

Federal authorities arrested a soldier with security clearance recently. Security clearance lawyer Catie Young explains the situation.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced March 26 it had arrested two cousins for allegedly conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

The Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Illinois Army National Guard Spec. Hasan Edmonds, 22, at Chicago Midway International Airport as he attempted to fly to Cairo, Egypt. Authorities arrested Jonas Edmonds, 29, at his home in Aurora, Illinois.

Both men have been charged with conspiring to support the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL. Hasan Edmonds held at least a secret security clearance, which has been revoked since his arrest, according to news reports. He never had access to classified information of any kind or to the classified computer system, according to Lt. Col. Brad Leighton, the Illinois National Guard’s public affairs officer.

The FBI began investigating the Edmonds cousins in late 2014, and they subsequently discovered the cousins had devised a plan to wage violence on behalf of ISIL, and for Hasan Edmonds to use his Army training to fight on behalf of ISIL, according to a Department of Justice press release.

This story brings to light the concerns raised in Guideline B and Guideline C of the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information. These are the reasons the government provides when it intends to deny or revoke your security clearance. Guidelines B and C address foreign influence and foreign preference, respectively.

The guidelines were established for all “U.S. government civilian and military personnel, consultants, contractors, employees of contractors, licensees, certificate holders or grantees and their employees and other individuals who require access to classified information,” according to U.S. Department of State information.

Decisions regarding security clearance eligibility consider factors that could create a conflict of interest and place a person in the position of having to choose between his/her commitment to the U.S. and to protecting classified information, as well as any other compelling loyalty. A person’s reliability, trustworthiness and ability to protect classified information also are taken into account.

Your loyalties and foreign financial interests are investigated when you apply for security clearance. Investigators also consider your prior actions to determine whether they indicate a preference for a foreign country over the United States. The government’s concerns were manifested in the Edmonds cousins’ actions.

These two men aren’t alone. ISIL and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) are on a mission to recruit westerners, judging by recent statistics that have been reported by CNN and other media outlets. More than 20,000 foreigners from 90 countries have attempted to fight for ISIS, and about 3,400 fighters came from Western states, according to a CNN story. National Intelligence Director James Clapper stated 180 Americans have tried to go to Syria to fight. It’s unclear how many were attempting to join ISIS.

We recommend consulting with a security clearance attorney when navigating your way through the application process. If you’re a naturalized U.S. citizen applying for clearance and you were born in a country such as Syria, Iraq, or another country with a tense relationship with the U.S., this might be particularly helpful.

“We certainly aren’t saying that it is tougher for naturalized citizens born in Middle Eastern countries to obtain clearance, but a great deal of investigating will need to be conducted prior to approval,” says Catie Young, a security clearance lawyer. “Having a professional walk you through the process may help expedite a lengthy process by addressing any government concerns early on.”

Should the government deny your clearance, having an attorney in your corner can help you. You’ll have just 15 days to request a hearing with an administrative judge and you must have a prepared response to the Statement of Reasons. Your attorney can help you with that.

Call today to schedule a consultation.