Visa fraud still being ignored!)

Hi Gang:
I am providing you with a news report that appeared today on the internet that was written by CNN journalists, Jeanne Meserve and Michael Ahlers that provided more information about the ongoing investigation and prosecution of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a 20 year old citizen of Saudi Arabia who was, allegedly, working toward the completion of bombs and other related devices that would have enabled him to have carried out multiple terrorist attacks across the United States had his efforts not been discovered and then thwarted by law enforcement officials.
I wrote a lengthy commentary about this case yesterday and want to narrow my focus for my commentary today.  Specifically, I want to notify you about how I take issue with the sentence that appeared in the news report that I have copied below:

Aldawsari, who was lawfully admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, officials said.

My concern is the use of the term “lawfully admitted.”
Certainly Aldawsari was admitted into the United States as the bearer of a student visa.  The point is that in order to obtain that visa, he had to have lied on his application for that visa.  
He undoubtedly also lied to the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) inspector who admitted him into the United States.
I raised the issue of visa fraud in my previous commentary and I want to make a few additional points today.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many people who favor open borders and amnesty programs were quick to claim that the 19 terrorists who wrought such extreme havoc on our nation and in the lives of so many innocent victims and their families, friends, colleagues and neighbors, had all been lawfully present in the United States because they had not run our borders.  There is a saying that there is more than one way to skin a cat.  Similarly, there is more than one way to gain entry into our country.  Certainly those who are intent on violating our immigration laws and other laws as well, can run our nation’s borders, they can also stow away on vehicles ranging from ships and airplanes to cars, buses, trains and trucks.  Aliens who seek to enter our country with malevolent intentions can also commit visa fraud.
Visa fraud is committed when an alien who applies for a visa lies on answers to be found in the visa application about material facts that, if known, would have precluded that alien from being issued a visa.
The only mention of the issue of visa fraud and the failures of the immigration system to address this critical area of vulnerability appeared in a New York Times article today that quoted Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas.  Rep. Smith is also the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and it is the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement that has oversight authority over the component agencies of the Department of Homeland Security that enforce and administer our nation’s immigration laws. 
The New York Times article that was entitled, “U.S. Arrests Saudi Student in Bomb Plot” can be found at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/25/us/25terror.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

Here is the passage from the New York Times article I am referring to:

 Federal officials declined to discuss whether Mr. Aldawsari’s student visa application raised any red flags. But Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who leads the Judiciary Committee, condemned the immigration
system for allowing him to enter the country — comparing him to the
hijackers in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, most of whom were
Saudis with valid visas. “Until we crack down on our immigration laws
that allow terrorists to enter the U.S., history will continue to repeat
itself,” Mr. Smith said.


The complaint says that Mr. Aldawsari complied with immigration rules by
notifying the authorities each time he transferred to a different
school.  
 

 

Here is the link to the United States Department of State website that contains extensive information about student visas:

http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html

 
Here is an all-encompassing list of grounds under which an alien would be denied a visa to enter the United States:    

http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/ineligibilities/ineligibilities_1364.html

As you review the lengthy list of grounds for excluding aliens from the United States, you will find the following:
 (3) Security and related grounds.-

        (A) In general.-Any alien who a consular officer or the Attorney General knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, seeks to
enter the United States to engage solely, principally, or incidentally in-

            (i)
any activity (I) to violate any law of the United States relating to
espionage or sabotage or (II) to violate
or evade any law prohibiting the export from the
United States of goods, technology, or sensitive information,

            (ii) any other unlawful activity, or

            (iii) any activity a purpose of which is the opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the Government of
the United States by force, violence, or other unlawful means, is inadmissible.

        (B) Terrorist activities-

            (i) IN GENERAL.-Any alien who-

                (I) has engaged in a terrorist activity,

                (II) a consular officer or the Attorney General knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, is engaged in
or is likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity (as defined in clause (iv)),

                (III) has, under circumstances indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily harm, incited terrorist
activity,

                (IV) is a representative (as defined in clause (v)) of–

                    (aa) a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the Secretary of State under section 219, or

                    (bb)
a political, social or other similar group whose public endorsement of
acts of terrorist activity
the Secretary of State has determined undermines
United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities,

Clearly Mr. Aldawsari’s intentions, as alleged by the government, would have rendered him excludible from the United States.  The intentions of the 19 terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11, 2001 and the other terrorists who have been apprehended and prosecuted in the United States would have also barred them from entering the United States.
The point is that an alien who succeeds in gaming the system is not truly lawfully present in our country.  An alien who is excludible at the time of entering our nation is deportable any time thereafter.  
This is not a matter of a simple academic debate but goes to the very issue of immigration and national security.  Advocates for amnesty and open borders blithely ignore the fundamental concept that our nation’s borders don’t just exist along the geographical borders that are supposed to separate the United States from Mexico and Canada.  The border does not just exist along our coastline that, according to reports I have read, run more than 90,000 miles.  The borders of the United States also exist, in a very real sense, at international airports located throughout the United States.  These airports provide entry points for foreign nationals and for imported materials into the United States.  To ignore the importance of the way that access is provided to our nation via international airports is to ignore a major factor in national security!
The visa process is supposed to push our borders out to United States embassies and consulates.  This is why I am staunchly opposed to the continuation of the insane program known as the Visa Waiver Program which enables aliens from some 37 countries to seek to enter the United States without first applying for and receiving a visa.
Additionally, the way that visa applications are processed leave much to be desired.
Time and again terrorists have easily gamed the visa process which can and must be seen as our nation’s first line of defense against transnational criminals and terrorists who seek to enter the United States in order to engage in criminal acts or to carry out terrorist attacks or to act in support of crimes or acts of terrorism.
The use of identity documents is also an area that needs to be addressed the REAL ID Act was supposed to close many of the important loopholes but the way that U.S. pasports are issued still needs improvement in a number of ways.
This is an excerpt from the FBI affidavit:

I am only engaging in rank speculation but since I have not seen anything that indicated that Aldawsari intended to become a martyr, I imagine that if he had obtained a United States passport, presumably in a false name, that it would have made it easier for him to board airliners to fly around the United States as he planted explosives.  A United Staets passport might also have facilitated his escape from the United States if he had succeeded in carrying out his attacks.
Every time a terrorist attempts to carry out an attack, our government addresses only half of the equation.  When Richard Reid, the so-called “Shoe Bomber” attempted to detonate bombs that were concealed in his shoes, our government reacted by requiring that all airline passengers remove their shoes before being permitted to board airliners.  The fact that Reid, as a citizen of Great Britain did not need a visa in order to board that airliner he intended to destroy in flight, and did not need a visa to seek to enter the United States has never been addressed.  Citizens of Great Britain are still able to board airliners destined to the United States without first obtaining visas.  Citizens of Great Britain and 36 other countries are still able to seek to enter the United States without obtaining visas, but within the United States, our citizens continue to face more and more restrictions and scrutiny in the name of “National Security.”
I understand the reasons why our expectations of privacy and freedom are being reduced in the name of security- HOWEVER, why is the approach to matters of national security ignoring the lessons that so many attacks and attempted attacks should have taught us?
The attacks that this alleged terrorist was purportedly working to carry out would have resulted in many casualties.  The impact would have been felt across our nation in terms of loss of life and in terms of the reactions it would have caused our government to take.  Had civilians not made timely notifications to the law enforcement community it is entirely possible that he would have succeeded.
Just as much attention has been given to the porous borders of our nation- an equal amount of attention needs to be given to our other porous border- the border to be found at ports of entry including international airports!
The lack of integrity where the visa issuing process is concerned must be addressed effectively and swiftly!  This poses no less a threat to national security than does our southern border!
Why is it that it that, thus far, only Rep. Lamar Smith has voiced concerns over this critically important issue?
Nearly 9 years ago, in March of 2002, I was called to provide testimony about two other “students” who had gamed the immigration system.  There names were Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi.  If their names are familiar it may be because they were two of the terrorists who participated in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Here is the link to the C-SPAN video of the Congressional hearing conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, at which I testified on March 19, 2002 as you watch this video I want you to consider how much has not changed in the more than 9 years since the attacks of September 11, 2001:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/165862

Topic for the hearing:
“INS’S MARCH 2002 NOTIFICATION OF APPROVAL OF CHANGE OF STATUS FOR PILOT TRAINING FOR TERRORIST HIJACKERS MOHAMMED ATTA AND MARWAN AL-SHEHHI”
Here is the link to the transcript of the hearing in its entirety

Because or the long standing failures to secure our borders and create an immigration system that has integrity our nation and our citizens remain exposed to serious threats.  
This must stop!  
Nothing less than the survival of our nation and our citizens hang in the balance!
A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!

I

our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!

We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.  
My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.
The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.
If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.  We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

The practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!


The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.  I implore you to resolve this year to get involved!
I believe our nation’s is greatly benefited by the rich diversity of our people which is why I could never imagine living anywhere except New York City, arguably the most diverse city in our nation if not, in fact, the world.  However, my idea of diversity most certainly does not include members of MS-13, the Mexican drug cartels or members of other transnational gangs or members of al-Qaeda!

If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! 

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!

We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!

-michael cutler- 


Please check out my website:

Saudi national arrested on terror charge to make court appearance

By Jeanne Meserve and Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
February 25, 2011 2:47 a.m. EST

Washington (CNN) — A Saudi national arrested for allegedly researching and acquiring chemicals to make a bomb is expected to make his initial appearance in a federal court in Lubbock, Texas, on Friday morning.

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a 20-year-old who attended school near Lubbock, allegedly researched several possible targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush along with nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams.

Aldawsari was arrested on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device, the Justice Department said.

Aldawsari, who was lawfully admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, officials said.

According to court records, Aldawsari conducted online research into how to construct an improvised explosive device, or IED, using several chemicals as ingredients. He has also “acquired or taken a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment” needed for the bomb, documents said.

Authorities said Aldawsari described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal.

He conducted research on various targets and emailed himself information on these locations and people, the Justice Department said.

On February 6, the affidavit alleges, Aldawsari sent himself an email titled “Tyrant’s House,” in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush, investigators said.

In a personal journal found in Aldawsari’s apartment home, he wrote the events of September 11, 2001, had produced a “big change” in his thinking and that he had been inspired by the speeches of Osama bin Laden, the affidavit said.

He had excelled in high school in order to take advantage of scholarship opportunities offered by Saudi companies to get to the United States, he wrote, and had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States for years, according to the affidavit.

Aldawsari allegedly wrote the scholarship “will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad.”

The entry continued: “And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad,” the affidavit says.

Aldawsari’s alleged plan first came to the attention of authorities only three weeks ago, on January 30, when Con-way Freight, a shipping company, became suspicious after Aldawsari allegedly called the company and asked it to hold a package for him.

Con-way Freight company officials told police it had no relationship with Aldawsari that would have allowed him to use the company as a shipping location, officials said.

Investigators learned the shipment involved the toxic chemical — phenol — which can be used in making the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as TNP or picric acid.

On February 8, an FBI agent posing as an employee of the North Carolina supply company that sent the chemicals called Aldawsari and asked why he wished to purchase the phenol, according to the records.

Aldaswari falsely told the supplier he was associated with a university and wanted the chemical for “off-campus, personal research,” the affidavit says.

Frustrated by his inability to obtain the chemicals, Aldawsari canceled the order and later emailed himself instructions for producing phenol.

The affidavit alleges that Aldawsari also emailed himself instructions on how to convert a cellular phone into a remote detonator and how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using items available in every home.

One email allegedly contained a message stating that “one operation in the land of the infidels is equal to 10 operations against occupying forces in the land of the Muslims.”

During December 2010 and January 2011, Aldawsari allegedly purchased many other items, including a gas mask, a hazardous materials suit, a soldering iron kit, glass beakers  and flasks, wiring, a stun gun, clocks and a battery tester.

Authorities said Aldawsari described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings, using the online user name “fromfaraway90.” He expressed dissatisfaction with the current condition of Muslims, lamenting what he viewed as their passivity and pacifism, according to the affidavit.

In another email to himself, titled “NICE TARGETS,” he listed two categories of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants, the affidavit said.

Other emails sent to himself, with the subject line “Targets,” contained the names and home addresses of three people who had previously served in the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, authorities alleged.

“As alleged in the complaint, Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States. Thanks to the  efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further,” said David Kris, who is assistant attorney general for national security. “This case serves as another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad.”

A spokesman for former President Bush referred calls to the Secret Service.

President Barack Obama was informed about the operation before the arrest was made, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said.

“The president thanks the FBI, Department of Justice, and the rest of our law enforcement, intelligence and Homeland Security professionals who continue to keep us safe and who once again have served with extraordinary skill and with the commitment that their enormous responsibilities demand,” Shapiro said.

South Plains College said that it had been notified that one of its students had been detained, but didn’t have further information on the arrest. A spokeswoman said that Aldawsari was a transfer student who had been at their college for only six weeks.

CNN’s Vivian Kuo and Jim Barnett contributed to this report. 


 

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