- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Of the 94 known foreign-born terrorists who operated in the United States between 1993 and 2004, two-thirds of them committed immigration fraud prior to or as part of their terrorist activities, a report said yesterday.

At least 21 became naturalized U.S. citizens before being charged or convicted as terrorists, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) said in a 46-page report.

CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian said the report “highlights the danger of our lax immigration system, not just in terms of who is allowed in, but also how terrorists, once in the country, used weaknesses in the system to remain here.”

“Strict enforcement of immigration law — at American consulates overseas, at ports of entry, and within the United States — must be an integral part of our efforts to prevent future attacks on U.S. soil,” he said.

The report said the terrorists commonly used temporary visas to gain entry to the United States, and that 18 of them held student visas and another four had applications approved to study in the United States.

At least 17 of the terrorists used visitor visas — either tourist or business — to gain entry, although there were 11 instances of passport fraud and 10 cases of visa fraud, the report said. In total, 13 of the terrorists overstayed their temporary visas.

The report, written for CIS by Janice Kephart, who served as counsel to the National Commission on Terror Attacks Upon the United States, said the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were not “an isolated instance of al Qaeda infiltration into the United States.”

Dozens of operatives both before and after September 11 had “managed to enter and embed themselves in the United States,” actively carrying out plans to commit terrorist acts against U.S. interests or support designated foreign terrorist organizations, it said.

The report noted that although most of the terrorists it identified have been captured or convicted, there was an underlying premise that the report was far from complete because of an assumption that other terrorists have used the same techniques to get into the United States.

The report said the terrorists engaged in a variety of al Qaeda-related plans that originated in Afghanistan under the guidance of September 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, all of which were designed to target American civilians. It said that as each plot unfolded, cell members in place within the United States became operational.

“The plots were conceived with multiple objectives: they sought to achieve mass casualties, economic damage, destruction of infrastructure and terror,” the report said. “Some plots never progressed beyond an idea’s genesis, while others reached operational stages before becoming defunct.”

Although each of the 94 terrorists committed an immigration violation of some kind, criminal charges alone were brought in 36 instances and immigration charges in 18. Indictments in 50 cases included both immigration and criminal charges and, the report said, there have been 15 deportations and 23 criminal convictions.

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