Terror Suspect- Anas al-Liby Had Been Previously Granted Political Asylum By Great Britain
Michael W. Cutler, Senior Special Agent, INS (Ret.)
The “War on Terror” continues. Our Special Forces carried out a successful operation to seize a key architect of the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Nairobi that preceded the terror attacks of 9/11.
Then, just hours after the news media around the world heralded the successful counter-terrorism operation an incredible story was reported by British journalists.
Here is how the BBC addressed this startling development:
Here is an excerpt from the BBC report:
Home Secretary Theresa May will be questioned by MPs as to why an al-Qaeda terror suspect captured in Libya was previously given asylum in Britain.
Anas al-Liby, who was seized by US special forces in Tripoli on Saturday, is accused of helping plan attacks on US embassies in 1998.
He lived in Manchester after fleeing Colonel Gaddafi’s regime.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the committee would raise the matter with Mrs May.
The headline of “The Telegraph” summed up the British component of the story:
The Telegraph report concluded with this excerpt:
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said al-Libi’s case will be raised with the Home Secretary, when she appears before MPs on Tuesday.
He said he wanted to ensure all the proper processes were undertaken with a man who was possibly known to the security and intelligence agencies at the time.
“We will want to look at the background of this case and will question the Home Secretary about it,” said Mr Vaz.
“It is highly relevant to our work on asylum and we will want to examine very carefully whether the proper checks were made.”
The parallels between apparent failures of the political asylum programs of both the United States and Great Britain are striking. It is also important to understand just how critically important the adjudication of applications for political asylum and other immigration benefits are to national security and a host of other issues.
This component of national security was amply addressed by the 9/11 Commission.
Here is an excerpt from the 9/11 Commission Report:
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), with its 9,000 Border
Patrol agents, 4,500 inspectors, and 2,000 immigration special agents, had per-
haps the greatest potential to develop an expanded role in counterterrorism.
However, the INS was focused on the formidable challenges posed by illegal
entry over the southwest border, criminal aliens, and a growing backlog in the
applications for naturalizing immigrants.The White House, the Justice Department,
and above all the Congress reinforced these concerns. In addition, when
Doris Meissner became INS Commissioner in 1993, she found an agency seri-
ously hampered by outdated technology and insufficient human resources. Bor-
der Patrol agents were still using manual typewriters; inspectors at ports of entry
were using a paper watchlist; the asylum and other benefits systems did not
effectively deter fraudulent applicants.
While paper watchlists have been replaced by computers, fraud continues to plague every component of the adjudications process by which aliens are granted political asylum, lawful immigrant status and even United States citizenship.
The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel contained numerous examples of instances where terrorists who engaged in terrorist attacks made use of visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud to not only enter the United States but embed themselves in the United States.
Here is the first paragraph from the preface of the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel:
“It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.”
Here is a paragraph under the title “Immigration Benefits” found on page 98:
“Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.”
Page 47 of the above-noted report contained the following paragraph:
Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida. Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the bombing, overstayed his tourist visa. He then applied for permanent residency under the agricultural workers program, but was rejected. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail, who drove the van containing the bomb, took English-language classes at Wichita State University in Kansas on a student visa; after he dropped out, he remained in the United States out of status.
On July 27, 2006 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the topic:
Here is a link to a video of a segment of my testimony before that hearing provides crystal clarity about my grave concerns about the nexus between any such amnesty program and national security.
The fact that the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon this past April 15, 2013 had been granted political asylum, along with their parents but then, upon receiving political asylum returned to Russia. Consider that in order to apply for political asylum they had to claim that if they were to return to Russia, their home country, they would face persecution or worse. Yet they voluntarily went back to Russia.
As I noted when I was interviewed by Megyn Kelly of Fox News on May 2, 2013 to discuss the terror bombing of the Boston Marathon, “We have a bunch of holes in the bottom of our boat and they are not plugging any of them!”
On September 20, 2013 CAPS (Californians for Population Stabilization) posted my article about the failures of the vetting process for alien applicants who apply for immigration benefits:
The Summer Edition of “The Social Contract” contained my article on political asylum that was entitled:
A final point to consider. Great Britain is one of 36 other countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program which enable their citizens to seek to enter the United States without first applying for an obtaining a visa. Failures of the visa issuing process were identified by the 9/11 Commission as having contributed to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Indeed, the 9/11 Commission noted that of 94 terrorist who were found to have entered the United States in the decade leading up to the 9/11 attacks, that 59 of these terrorists- some two-thirds of them used immigration benefit fraud and/or visa fraud as a means of entering the United States and embedding themselves in the United States.
On July 12, 2011 Californians for Population Stabilization posted my commentary:
My commentary contained a list of six ways that an effectively administered visa program protects America and Americans that we lose through the implementation of the Visa Waiver Program. Here is an excerpt of my commentary that contains that list:
By requiring visas of aliens who seek to enter the United States, this process helps to screen potential passengers on airliners that are destined to the United States.
The CBP inspectors are supposed to make a decision in one minute or less as to the admissibility of an alien seeking to enter the United States. The visa requirement helps them to do a more effective job. There’s is a tough job I can certainly relate to, I began my career at the former INS as an immigration inspector at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and worked there for four years before I became a special agent.
The application for a nonimmigrant visa contains roughly 40 questions that could provide invaluable information to law enforcement officials should that alien become the target of a criminal or terrorist investigation. The information could provide intelligence as well as investigative leads. You can check out the application for a nonimmigrant (tourist) visa by clicking on this link:
If an alien applicant lies on the application for a visa that lie is called “visa fraud.” The maximum penalty for visa fraud starts out at 10 years in jail for those who commit this crime simply in order to come to the United States, ostensibly to seek unlawful employment or other such purpose. The penalty increases to 15 years in jail for those aliens who obtain a visa to commit a felony. For aliens who engage in visa fraud to traffic in narcotics or commit another narcotics-related crime, the maximum jail sentence that can be imposes rises to 20 years. Finally, when an alien can be proven to have engaged in visa fraud in furtherance of terrorism, the maximum penalty climbs to 25 years in prison. It is important to note that while it may be difficult to prove that an individual is a terrorist, it is usually relatively simple to prove that the alien has committed visa fraud when there is fraud involved in the visa application. Indeed, terror suspects are often charged with visa fraud.
The charge of visa fraud can also be extremely helpful to law enforcement authorities who want to take a bad guy off the street without tipping their hand to the other members of a criminal conspiracy or terrorism conspiracy that the individual arrested was being arrested for his involvement in terrorism or a criminal organization. You can arrest the alien who commits visa fraud for that violation of law and not for other charges that might make it clear that the investigation underway is targeting a criminal or terrorist organization.
Even when an alien applies for a visa and his application is denied, the application he filed remains available for law enforcement and intelligence personnel to review to seek to glean intelligence from that application.
The fact that our nation still has a Visa Waiver Program flies in the face of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission which took issue with how visas were issued to the terrorists. If laxity in the visa issuing process enabled the terrorists to enter the United States, why would we permit citizens of 37 countries to enter our country in this day and age without first obtaining any visa at all?
Our government is apparently responding to the extreme pressure being brought to bear by the Chamber of Commerce and executives of the travel, hospitality and related industries under the auspices of a program known as the “Discover America Partnership.” That consortium has now been joined by the National Retailer Federation (NRF).
There is no doubt that, once again, our valiant warriors of the U.S. military carried out their mission with precision and courage. Would that the rest of our government demonstrate a similar commitment to the mission that they must accomplish- secure America’s borders against the entry of aliens whose presence would jeopardize the lives and well being of Americans and America’s national security!
It is not “Anti-Immigrant” to be Pro-American!