Here’s a discussion on Fox News with a British bomb expert:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: This is terrifying — ISIS University. Sky News uncovering video footage showing a very sophisticated training academy in Syria where terrorists are learning how to make bombs and complex weapons and for one purpose — to wage war on the West and to kill. Former British Army intelligence officer in bomb disposal specialist Major Chris Hunter goes on the record from London. Good evening, sir, and what are your thoughts about this?Here’s the original video that Sky News broadcast:
MAJOR HUNTER: The first thing, Greta, was that the level of ingenuity, the level of technical sophistication that we’ve seen in these training videos is absolutely unsurpassed. The IRA, for example, were the leaders in bomb-making technology for 30 years when I was a young bomb technician. When I went to Iraq in 2004 with the US-led coalition, the Iraqi insurgents superseded that level of technical sophistication in one year, but these guys, ISIS, are leagues ahead. You know, this is absolutely ground-breaking stuff.
One of the scariest things was that ISIS has figured out how to resurrect old jet missiles with a homemade thermal battery to turn them into working surface-to-air missiles capable of shooting down passenger jets. See an article from Major Hunter on the Sky website, IS Bomb Skills ‘Truly The Stuff Of Nightmares’.
My first thought upon seeing the advanced bomb building was where did they learn such engineering skills? In American universities? When Muslim students come here to study, they don’t major in literature or art; they learn technical subjects. For example, the jihad refugee arrested in Sacramento this week was enrolled as a computer science major.
It is highly unwise to be training the bloodthirsty enemies of the West, if that was the case here. At any rate, American universities have been welcoming institutions for the unfriendly diverse for years, from jihad-inclined Saudis to ChiCom spies. Not long after the 9/11 attacks on America, Senator Diane Feinstein suggested a six-month moratorium on student visas, but the university suits came down on her like a ton of transcripts. So it goes in America-hating academia.
US student visa program’s ‘many vulnerabilities’ raise spying, terror fears, Fox News, January 07, 2016
From potential terrorists who enroll at phony schools only to melt into the U.S. population, to foreign scientists who come to study weapons technology at America’s top schools, the student visa program is allowing dangerous enemies into the country, a former top federal official told FoxNews.com.
Recent attention has been focused on refugee programs and illegal border crossings, but the Achilles heel in America’s immigration system may be the program that invites 1.2 million foreigners into the U.S. each year, according to Claude Arnold, retired special agent in charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Los Angeles bureau of Homeland Security Investigations. Once here on student visas, immigrants are barely monitored and tens of thousands don’t show up for classes and fall off the government radar.
“Our legal immigration system has many vulnerabilities and the student visa program is no different,” Arnold said. “It is only a matter of time before there is either some horrible criminal act, or some act of terrorism, and there is absolutely no information available that would have caused [authorities] to go out and pick that person up.”
Most of student visa recipients do exactly what they said they would do when they applied – take advantage of America’s vaunted system of higher education and leave when the terms expire. But every year, approximately 58,000 overstay their visas and drop out of contact with authorities. While the vast majority of those are not terrorists or spies, some are, said Arnold.
ICE’s 7,000 agents simply don’t have the ability to monitor all of them, Arnold said. By the time a red flag goes up, it may be too late.
“You have to conduct a threat assessment and go after those who are a threat to national security,” Arnold said. “But within that universe of people who are visa overstays, there could be people who are radicalized, and we just don’t know it because there is no intelligence on them,” he added.
Foreign enemies know how to exploit the student visa program, Arnold said. Iran, in particular, has sent scientists to the U.S., ostensibly to study other subjects, but really to gain knowledge to benefit Iran’s weapons program.
“My concern was we had Iranian students who studied at Iran’s big physics school and were essentially nuclear physicists working on their bomb project,” Arnold said. “We had cases where they would register for a mechanical engineering class in the U.S., but really all they were trying to do is get access to an aeronautical engineering program, so they could work on the delivery system for Iran’s nuclear program.”
The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security share responsibility for screening applicants and monitoring them once they arrive.
ICE officials told FoxNews.com each school that takes in visa recipients has a designated official who serves as a point of contact between students, the school and the government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program to ensure the federal computer tracking system is updated. In addition, 58 field representatives visit approved schools twice a year to ensure compliance.
The State Department, which oversees part of the student visa program, told FoxNews.com in an emailed statement it is committed to a “transparent and efficient visa application process,” and maintains extensive programs to vigorously combat and investigate visa fraud.
Fraud prevention managers engage in public outreach, training, detailed review of cases, statistical analysis and other activities, including communicating with host government officials and U.S. law enforcement authorities, the statement said.
Applicants are screened by a host of federal agency databases and personnel against databases of fingerprints of known and suspected terrorists, wanted persons, immigration law violators, and more than 75.5 million criminal history records.
ICE statistics show countries sending their students include several considered by the U.S. as State Sponsors of Terrorism, including Syria and Iran, as well as Saudi Arabia, China and Pakistan. More than 700 Syrians came to the U.S. via the student visa program in 2014, and another 3,700 came from Iran the same year.
“We don’t really know if State’s efforts are effective or if they are helping reduce fraud and abuse of visa programs, because Department of Homeland Security refuses to release a report detailing the number of overstays in each visa category and from each country, even though Congress has mandated this report since at least 2004,” said Jessica Vaughan, a former State Department consular officer who now is the director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, DC-based research institute.
“What I am worried about is students who are allowed to get a student visa to attend some nondescript school and then they disappear,” said Vaughan, who noted that Hani Hanjour, the 9/11 hijacker who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon, had obtained a student visa but never showed up for class.
Too often, schools play along. ICE has cracked down in recent years on “visa mills,” or facilities that help foreigners get a student visa for a fee, but never hold classes or ensure students attend class. Three California residents pleaded guilty last March in a “pay-to-stay” scheme involving three sham schools in Los Angeles.
The schools had legitimate-sounding names, like Walter Jay M.D. Institute and the American College of Forensic Studies, and took in millions of dollars in tuition fees. But investigators found classes that were supposed to hold 30 students had just few, if any students. According to Arnold, who oversaw the investigation, the schools existed only to facilitate foreign students’ purchase of visas under the guise of studying.
“This is an example where the system worked,” said Arnold.
In addition to better screening and monitoring, Arnold believes overstaying a visa should be a misdemeanor. That might make visa holders less likely to violate the terms, and would also trigger alarms if they were stopped for a traffic violation or arrested for another reason.
Arnold and Vaughan also want tighter controls on the kinds of schools that can accept foreign students. Some trade school programs that teach subjects like massage, baking and horseshoeing could invite fraud. And courses that teach material with military applications invite something even more sinister, Arnold said.
“Why do we want people who are our enemies, whether it is potentially ISIS or Iran, here learning technical skills they are going to use against us?” he said. “It is insane.”