Saudi Arabia`s Khalid Aldawsari Shows Terrorists Still Exploiting U.S. Student Visa System
March 31, 2011, 05:00 AM
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There's one sure way to make sure that terrorists don't kill people in the United States: prevent them from entering our country. Once they cross our border, the odds of preventing them from going on killing sprees drop dramatically.

In 9/11, terrorists such as Mohammed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi used student visas. Before that, Eyad Ismoli of Jordan, one of the bombers convicted in the 1993World Trade Center bombing, used a student visa.

Student visas are easy for terrorists to obtain.  They give legitimacy and the freedom to set up operations with impunity. Even after 9/11, we have relied mostly on luck to stop terrorists—for the most part they been foiled only when law enforcement agencies stumbled into them, or when an insider snitched.

Considering the repeated instances in which student visas have been used by terrorists, it would be reasonable to assume that the U.S. would restrict the number of foreigners who could get student visas — especially to people from known terrorist strongholds like Saudi Arabia.

But the case of Khalid Aldawsari is just more evidence that this isn't happening. He was allowed into the U.S. on an F-1 student visa in 2008.  And, in case you missed the news several weeks ago, he was busted by the FBI because he made the mistake of buying dangerous chemicals with a credit card. Aldawsari allegedly intended to use the chemicals to make weapons of mass destruction and kill multitudes of innocent Americans.

Paradoxically, in addition to his plans to kill Americans at random, Aldawsari specifically targeted the one man who was responsible for letting him and his ilk into the U.S.: former president George W. Bush.

According to the criminal affidavit and complaint by the FBI, Aldawsari sent emails to himself about potential targets. The emails said:

1. "Hydroelectric dams and 2. Nuclear Power Plants." The title of this second email was "NICE TARGETS.

On February 6, 2011, ALDAWSARI sent himself an email… The title of this email was "Tyrant's House. In the email, ALDAWSARI listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush.[ USA v. Khalid Ali-m Aldawsari, Criminal Complaint, U.S. District Court, Case Number 5:11-MJ-017, Northern District of Texas, Feb 23, 2011]

So much for gratitude! An escalation in student visa issuance began in 2006, when President George Bush and Saudi King Abdullah agreed to fast-track Saudi students into the USA. Bush's so-called student exchange program quadrupled the number of Saudi student visas, allowing thousands of students from Saudi Arabia to enroll in colleges across the United States. (Great Britain, by contrast, has recently decided to cut the number of foreign students admitted, targeting those going to phony schools, those who can't speak English, and anyone who wants to stay on and perform a low wage job. [Number of foreign students to be cut by 25 per cent, By James Tapsfield, The Independent,  March 22, 2011])

Bush administration officials claimed the students wouldn't pose a security risk, thanks to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System [SEVIS], instituted in 2002. In addition to background checks, SEVIS was supposed to monitor details about foreign students, such as where they lived and whether they were legitimate.

But from the moment SEVIS was brought online to the present, it has been watered down—because of heavy lobbying by universities who consider SEVIS to be an impediment to increasing their enrollment numbers. Background checks were either eliminated or expedited in order to reduce the time and expense normally required to make sure that foreign students didn't pose security risks.

The lobbyists won out. They proved that technical solutions such as SEVIS are doomed to failure in the face of political tinkering.

SEVIS is part of a much larger DHS system called the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology (U.S. VISIT). A SEVIS backgrounder written by Immigration and Customs Enforcement must give pause to anyone who wonders what useful purpose the system serves, especially when it comes to indentifying radical Muslims:

QUESTION: Many law-abiding foreign students, especially Muslim students, feel that SEVIS unfairly subjects them to unwarranted U.S. government scrutiny. They feel they are being singled out, tracked, and monitored by the U.S. government, as if they were terrorists.

ANSWER: SEVIS does not require foreign students to provide any new information. On the contrary, SEVIS contains much of the same information students have always had to provide in order to study in the United States. What's changed is where that information is stored. Before SEVIS, each school was responsible for maintaining information about their foreign students. SEVIS has simply moved that information from the campus to a centralized computer database.[ U.S. Department Of Homeland Security—Bureau Of Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE)—SEVIS Backgrounder (PDF)]

Khalid Aldawsari proved that SEVIS can be worthless when it comes to detecting potential terrorists – and that admitting foreign students is an irresponsible way to subsidize our schools by increasing enrollments.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Texas, Aldawsari's records in the SEVIS database were clean, so no flag was raised to authorities that he poses a security risk. (F-1 visas also allow foreign students to hold jobs while in the U.S. But unlike many F-1 students, Aldawsari never worked in the U.S.—so if there is one good thing about his story, it's that he didn't steal a job from an American who needed one.)

The criminal complaint describes how blatant Aldawsari's was about discussing his radical beliefs or his desire to become a terrorist. It quotes some of Aldawsari's writings that investigators were able to find simply by entering his name into an internet search engine. These quotes, which were originally written in the Arabic language, are translated in the complaint:

"You who created mankind and who is knowledgeable of what is in the womb, grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make Jihad easy for me …"

"If this is the West's version of freedom, and their peace policy, we have our own policies in freedom and it is war until…the infidels leave defeated."

But there is one conspicuous piece of information missing in the criminal complaint. One phrase hints that he was sponsored to come to the U.S.:

"… ALDAWSARI's university classes are funded by a Saudi-based industrial corporation which pays for his educational and living expenses."

The phrase "industrial corporation" is used more than once in the complaint—but the name of the company never appeared.

That the name of the company that bankrolled Aldawsari's stay in the U.S. was omitted from the FBI complaint is strong evidence that our government continues to coddle Saudi Arabia. But a small newspaper found out who it was and reported it.

"A major Saudi Arabian chemical company largely owned by the country's ruling royal family paid tuition, living and medical expenses for the Lubbock college student charged in a terrorism plot.

"Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, a Saudi national and former Texas Tech student, obtained a scholarship from Riyadh-based Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the company said Friday. Under the program, SABIC pays students a monthly stipend and covers their housing, tuition and health care costs."

(Chemical firm owned by royal Saudi family paid for Aldawsari's school, medical expenses, By Darci Heiskell, Amarillo-Globe News, February 26, 2011)

The SABIC website gives some interesting information about who owns the business—and why global power brokers, in collusion with the U.S. government, would be motivated to cover up for them:

"SABIC is the largest and most profitable non-oil company in the Middle East and one of the world's five largest petrochemicals manufacturers. It is a public company based in Riyadh: the Saudi Arabian government owns 70% of its shares, and the remaining 30% are held by private investors in Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council."

So what our government is going to do about the abuse of student visas?

Needless to say, some people think we should stop being so paranoid, i.e. we should do nothing:

" 'We have 40,000 students from Saudi Arabia in the US,' Moody Al-Khalaf, Director of Culture and Social Affairs at the Cultural Mission at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia told Arab News. 'Despite all the events we do here for positive outreach and all the tremendous efforts by the thousands of students all over the US … an incident like this gets everyone worked up against the Saudis and Islam.'" [Saudi student appears in US court, by Barbara Ferguson, Arab News, Feb 26, 2011]

President Barack Obama appears to agree with this, because he hasn't lifted a finger to stop Bush's edict to issue more visas to Saudis. If anything, Obama has exacerbated the problem by claiming that the U.S. needs to increase the number of H-1B visas—and to staple green cards (read here and here) to the diplomas of foreign students who graduate from our schools, so that they can stay in the U.S. permanently (and displace Americans).

Hopefully, it never occurred to Moammar Gadhafi that he could use our legal immigration system to plant sleeper cells in the U.S.—infiltrators who attend our universities while awaiting commands from Gadhafi to exact retribution for our military intervention in Libya.

Usama Bin Laden proved how easy it was.  And very little has changed since 9/11—except that we now let in more Saudis like Khalid Aldawsari.

Rob Sanchez (email him) is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization and author of the "Job Destruction Newsletter" (sign up for it here) at www.JobDestruction.com. To make a tax-deductible donation to Rob Sanchez, click here.