- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2001

The deal struck in a Northern Virginia parking lot was simple, authorities say: For $50, day laborer Herbert Villalobos agreed to sign forms that a Middle Eastern man needed to obtain a Virginia identification card.
The man in search of an ID card was Abdulaziz Alomari, the FBI says, one of the hijackers who crashed an American Airlines jet into the World Trade Center.
According to the FBI, Mr. Villalobos, using a fake name, signed a sworn statement that Mr. Alomari lived in Virginia. Mr. Villalobos, through his attorney, has denied the charge.
Mr. Alomari was one of seven suspected hijackers who exploited a loophole in Virginia law that allowed people to get an ID card by submitting sworn statements about their identity and residence, without proof like a passport or a utility bill.
There's little reason to believe the Sept. 11 attacks would have been stopped had the hijackers been denied ID cards. But the ease with which they obtained IDs in several states has prompted renewed scrutiny of the standards governing the documents that serve as most Americans' primary form of identification.
In Florida, where 13 of the 19 hijackers had drivers' licenses or ID cards, a task force convened after the attacks reported that the process of obtaining a license "must be enhanced to ensure reliability and validation of identity." Florida does not require proof of permanent residency to get a driver's license.
In New Jersey, where two of the hijackers obtained licenses, state officials are also reviewing procedures.
In Michigan, the secretary of state said she will propose a bill to prohibit illegal aliens from receiving driver's licenses. The move comes after the arrest of three men in Detroit on the heels of an FBI raid to find people with ties to Osama bin Laden. The men were charged with identity fraud; fraud and misuse of visas, passports and other documents; and conspiracy to commit those crimes.
Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles has closed the loophole exploited by the hijack suspects, and state lawmakers said further tightening of standards is likely.
Virginia's relaxed rules on proof needed to obtain a state ID were partly in response to residents' complaints that it was too difficult to obtain a license, Gov. James S. Gilmore III said.
"In all of our strong efforts to make DMV more efficient, we created a vulnerability for evil people to exploit," Mr. Gilmore said. "People had been complaining about DMV for decades that it was inconvenient and frustrating to deal with."
In Virginia, three persons face federal charges for reputedly helping the hijackers obtain fake IDs. There is no evidence that those charged had any idea what the hijackers were planning. But the evidence does point to a thriving business in document fraud for anyone willing to pay $50 or $100 for bogus certifications.
Court documents claim that Kenys Galicia, a notary public in a Falls Church law office, was paid $90 to provide a set of 30 blank, notarized forms to an unnamed man who was seeking to obtain ID cards for a group of New Yorkers. Miss Galicia has been charged with helping the hijackers obtain fraudulent identifications.
In a case not connected to the Sept. 11 attacks, Jennifer Wrenn, a Northern Virginia notary public, was convicted of helping thousands of undocumented immigrants from as far away as Massachusetts obtain fraudulent Virginia ID cards.
"After the Sept. 11 attacks, DMVs across the country are looking at how business is done, with an eye toward maybe tightening the measures it takes to get a license," said Jason King, a spokesman for the Arlington-based American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
One form accepted by many states but now under scrutiny is the I-94 form produced by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and attached to a passport to indicate when a person is required to leave the country.
Wisconsin has suspended use of the form as a primary identification document, and Florida officials are considering the same. Mr. King said the AAMVA recommends the I-94 to state agencies as an acceptable document, but said the association and state agencies are all looking at tightening their procedures.

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