by Lloyd Billingsley
Gen. John Kelly charts how jihadists target the USA with “exported violence.”
“For a brief moment after the attacks of 9/11,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Tuesday, “our nation shook off its complacency, and realized our American values had a mortal enemy called radical Islam.” This threat, Kelly said, “has metastasized and decentralized, and the risk is as threatening today as it was that September morning almost 16 years ago.”
Part of the problem, Gen. Kelly said, is that many “holy warriors” will depart their home countries, and because of the Visa Waiver Program, “they can more easily travel to the United States which makes us a prime target for their exported violence.”
To address this problem, President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily restricting travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations with terrorist issues, only to have the order blocked by federal judge James Robart. Last month, President Trump issued “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” Federal judge Derrick Watson blocked the order, ruling that a reasonable person would conclude that the measure was “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion,” not to prevent terrorists from entering the United States.
Neither judge made any reference to the way terrorists had gained entry to the United States in the past, particularly before September 11, 2001. As it happens, the United States government has already addressed that subject at considerable length.
“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.”
That is from the introduction to 9/11 and Terrorist Travel: Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States, which the 9/11 Commission failed to include in their larger report in July of 2004. It emerged on August 21, 2004, the same day the 9/11 Commission disbanded. The 19 radical Islamic terrorists responsible for 9/11 were able to enter the United States, and the report explains how they did so.
Those involved in that attack successfully entered the United States 33 times over 21 months through nine airports. A ballpark figure for the number who should have got in is zero. As the report notes, all 19 of the 9/11 terrorist visa applications were incomplete in some way, with data fields left blank and questions not fully answered.
Even so, U.S. officials approved 22 of the 23 hijacker visa applications. Of the 15 Saudis, four got their visas after the creation of the Visa Express Program in June 2001. Eight other conspirators tried to get visas during the course of the plot and three succeeded, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11.
The State Department actually speeded up the visa process in Germany, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, where 17 of the 19 hijackers got their visas. According to the report, the reason “has never been adequately explained.”
As 9/11 and Terrorist Travel also noted, “Three Salvadoran immigrants living in Virginia, two illegally and one as a lawful permanent resident, were found guilty of helping four September 11 operatives use fraudulent documentation to obtain Virginia identification documents.” In all, “the five hijackers based their Virginia identification documents on the residency information of one bribed Salvadoran.”
The illegal Salvadorans likely entered through the United States from Mexico. As the report notes, prior to September 11, 2001, “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.”
Before 9/11, the report explains, the Immigration and Naturalization Services operated in a “virtual intelligence vacuum.” Former INS boss Doris Meissner was briefed only once on the terrorist threat from Islamic militants, and when the 9/11 Commission interviewed her, she could not even recall that single briefing. Incredibly enough, Meissner had never heard of Osama bin Laden until August 2001, nearly ten months after she left the INS.
President Donald Trump, now attempting to shore up border security, will find the lessons of 9/11 and Terrorist Travel more valid than ever.
It is perhaps obvious that the head of the INS should be an expert on terrorism and always in the loop on intelligence briefings. As the report says, if terrorists are unable to enter the country, they can’t carry out attacks.
It is perhaps obvious that if an applicant makes any mistake or omission on a visa application the United States should bar entry to that person. By extension, if U.S. officials are unable to vet any refugee from any country, that person should be denied entry.
The radical Islamic terrorists of 9/11 connections collaborated with illegal Salvadorans. So it should perhaps be obvious that massive illegal immigration can bring deadly consequences. The Department of Defense should give the Border Patrol all the help it needs to keep the nation safe.
9/11 and Terrorist Travel notes the 1995 observation of the late Barbara Jordan, the Texas Democrat who chaired the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. “Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave.”
President Trump is on board with that but his efforts draw fierce reaction from the left, determined to protect violent criminal illegals in sanctuary cities. In similar style, the federal judges have blocked the president’s efforts to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the country with a temporary travel ban.
Violent criminals and jihadists still enter the country with the greatest of ease. That is why, as Gen. Kelly said Tuesday, “we still face the highest terror threat level in years,” just like “that September morning almost 16 years ago.”
Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation, and Bill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield.
Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.