- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2002

At least 15 of the September 11 hijackers should have been denied visas to enter the United States, according to an analysis of their visa applications obtained by National Review magazine.
Nikolai Wenzel, a former consular officer who was one of six veteran foreign service officials who analyzed the applications for the magazine, said the State Department's issuance of visas to the terrorists "amounts to criminal negligence."
As an example, one of the hijackers Saudi native Abdulaziz Alomari, who was aboard American Airlines Flight 11 that smashed into the World Trade Center had numerous glaring errors in his visa application, National Review reported:
He claimed to be a student, but left blank the space for the name and address of his school.
He checked the box claiming to be married, but left blank the place for the name of his spouse.
cHe indicated he spent two months at the "JKK Whyndham Hotel," but failed to provide proof of his ability to pay for it, as required by law.
cHe did not fill out the spaces asking for his sex and nationality.
There were similar problems on the visa applications of other September 11 terrorists, including Saeed al Ghamdi, who lied in denying he had ever applied for a visa before, and the brothers Wail and Waleed al-Shehri, who listed the name and address of their schools simply as "South City."
While those problems should have caused State Department officials to reject their applications, Joel Mowbray reports in the Oct. 28 issue of National Review, the September 11 hijackers also should have been denied visas because of a provision of immigration law called 214(b).
That provision, intended to prevent people from using travel visas to illegally immigrate to the United States, requires that applicants for nonimmigrant visas demonstrate that they have strong ties to their home country, adequate financial means and a legitimate purpose for U.S. travel.
"As the applicant [for a nonimmigrant visa], you have to prove you're coming back," former consular officer Jessica Vaughn told the magazine. "It's not hard for a genuine applicant, but it is meant to be extremely challenging for an unqualified one. It is the cornerstone of the nonimmigrant visa system."
All 15 of the applications failed to meet 214(b) requirements, according to those who reviewed the documents for the magazine.
A lax U.S. visa policy in Saudi Arabia prior to September 11 was to blame for the approval of the terrorists' applications, according to the magazine.

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