The Rev. Franklin Graham has once again issued a call for proper vetting processes for incoming refugees amid reports that thousands of Muslim asylum seekers sexually assaulted women in Cologne, Germany on New Year's Eve.
"Gangs of Muslim men from North Africa and the Middle East roamed the streets of Cologne, Germany, on New Year's Eve attacking over 100 women - beating, groping, and raping," Graham wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday.
"Unbelievably, authorities tried to cover it up because of fear and political correctness. Reports say that police were blocked from helping the women by groups of migrant men and were pelted with glass bottles and fireworks. This is a nightmare," he added.
Emphasizing that the European country took in a record 1.1 million asylum-seekers in 2015, the 64-year-old evangelist warned:
"If we don't properly vet people that we allow to come into this country, this could happen here. I hope the Washington politicians - Republicans, Democrats, and the White House - see and recognize this very grave danger."
According to the Independent, up to 1,000 men of Arab and North African appearance were allowed to mug, accost and sexually abuse at least 516 women in "coordinated" attacks in a Cologne city square.
Police told the outlet that 31 suspects have since been detained by police for questioning, 18 of whom were asylum seekers.
This latest bout of violence has sparked widespread debate in Germany regarding the refugee crisis and has put new pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-policy asylum system, notes the Wall Street Journal. However, a number of politicians have been quick to argue that focus should be on the crime and not where the suspected attackers are from.
"First and foremost, this is about criminality, not about refugees," a spokesman for Ms. Merkel said. "Holding back and sugarcoating things will not only hurt us, it will also hurt the rule of law and the majority of completely blameless refugees who are seeking protection with us."
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas echoed such a sentiment, stating, "Making an issue out of it, lumping it together with the refugee issue, is nothing but exploitation. Now is the time to determine the facts and then decide on the necessary consequences."
However, CNN notes that reports of other New Year's Eve attacks have emerged elsewhere across Europe: Police in Kalmar, Sweden, said Friday they had arrested two men described as refugees.
The men, who have since been released on bail, are suspected in two of the 11 sexual harassment complaints received in the town on New Year's Eve, police spokesman Johan Bruun said.
Additionally, in Helsinki, Finland, police said they are investigating two possible criminal offenses related to New Year's Eve harassment centered around "a gathering of asylum-seekers."
In a subsequent Facebook post, Graham once again issued a strong warning about the U.S. opening its borders to refugees and conceded that "the enemy" has already penetrated the United States. "My fellow Americans, the enemy is here," he said, as he cited the news story of a 30-year-old gunman who tried to kill a Philadelphia police officer in the name of Islam.
"We have cause to be alarmed at these stories and at the number of potential terrorists and jihadists we having living inside our borders right here on American soil. It's not a secret - their goal is to kill all those who do not follow Islam and expand the territory of the Islamic State to the entire world," he said.