Colonization by Immigration

Exclusive: Hillary Rubber-Stamped Visas for Record Number of Saudi Visitors

Despite terrorism concerns, the former secretary of state doubled yearly Saudi entrants.

BY Paul Sperry · @paulsperry_ | August 8, 2016

Despite evidence Saudi Arabian terrorists exploit the U.S. visa program, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doubled the number of visas for Saudi visitors to the U.S., while helping cut a deal with the Kingdom to waive security procedures for Saudi nationals upon their arrival in the U.S, CounterJihad has learned.

The annual number of nonimmigrant visas issued to Saudi nationals soared 93% during Clinton’s tenure as secretary from 2009 to 2013, federal data show, hitting a record 108,578 in fiscal 2013 and reversing a post-9/11 pause in Saudi visa approvals.

Before leaving office, Clinton helped negotiate a little-noticed January 2013 administration deal with Riyadh to allow Saudi visa-holders to enter the U.S. as “trusted travelers” and bypass the normal border security process. The next year, the State Department issued an all-time-high 142,180 Saudi visas, consular data show.

All told, the Obama administration has opened the floodgates to more than 709,000 Saudi nationals, most of whom applied for student or business visas, records show. It’s as if 9/11 never happened and 15 Saudi terrorists never infiltrated the country on rubber-stamped visas. The surge represents a major shift from changes in immigration policy made in the wake of 9/11, when the number of visas issued to Saudi Arabians plummeted 69.7%. In fiscal 2002, Saudi visas slowed to a relative trickle of just 14,126.

Saudi immigration was tightened after it was revealed that the State Department’s Visa Express program benefited some of the Saudi hijackers on 9/11. Less known is that two other al-Qaida-tied Saudi nationals visiting America on student visas also took advantage of the lax policy. It turns out these other young Saudi men made a “dry run” to test airline security ahead of the 9/11 hijackings.

According to the recently declassified 29 pages of the congressional joint inquiry report on 9/11, Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi, both Saudi students living in the Phoenix area, tried several times to gain access to the cockpit of an America West flight while traveling to Washington to attend a party at the Saudi Embassy in 1999. Their airline tickets were paid for by the Saudi government, the documents reveal.

The FBI suspected al-Qudhaeein was a Saudi intelligence agent bankrolled by the Saudi Embassy, and agents subsequently received information that al-Shalawi trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and operated in the same circle with the Saudi hijacker who flew the plane into the Pentagon.

Coming into office in 2009, Clinton issued a cable warning diplomats that Saudi Arabia was still sponsoring al-Qaida terrorist operations.

“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida,” states a Wikileaked secret December 2009 memo signed by the then-secretary of state. Her memo urged U.S. diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Saudi money reaching terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” Clinton said.

Nonimmigrant Visa Issuances, Saudi Arabia, FY1997-2014
Nonimmigrant Visa Issuances, Saudi Arabia, FY1997-2014

In spite of her own warnings about continued Saudi-sponsored terrorism, however, she and President Obama quietly struck a deal to fast-track more Saudi students for U.S. entry during a series of high-level meetings in January 2013 with the Saudi interior minister, who had complained about delays in the security screening process and lobbied for more student visas.

Clinton, whose family foundation has received tens of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabian donors, can be seen here meeting at her State Department office with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz on the same day — Jan. 16, 2013 — that Prince Mohammed signed an agreement to join America’s trusted traveler program known as Global Entry.

As a member of the trusted traveler program, the U.S. now trusts Saudi Arabians as much as it does Canadians, who as longtime program members are considered low-risk travelers and pre-approved for entry, and more so than Germans or French, who aren’t included in the program. Thanks to the Obama administration, Saudi visitors now enjoy expedited security clearance. They bypass the normal Customs screening and proceed to Global Entry kiosks, where they receive a transaction receipt that directs them to baggage claim and exit.

In other words, Saudi visitors now go to the front of the line and skip normal Homeland Security inspections. And federal authorities now share background checking and other pre-screening duties with the Saudis.

The trusted traveler program kicks the door open to thousands of young Saudi men who will be able to stay legally in the U.S. for five years on student and vocational visas. And they won’t be monitored while they’re here. The feds stopped tracking their stays here several years ago after the Saudi embassy, along with the terrorist front group Council on American-Islamic Relations, protested to the White House and State Department.

That means terrorists among the new Saudi entrants can enter the U.S. and continue to test flight security or plot attacks while pretending to go to college. Authorities now have no idea if a Saudi national entering on a student visa actually reported to campus.

“Why would we trust them?” 9/11 survivor Sharon Premoli demanded in an interview with the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Indeed, several Saudi visa-holders have been busted plotting terrorism or testing airline security in recent years. For example:

  • In 2013, a young Saudi immigrant living in Oregon on an expired visa was arrested for conducting a suspected dry run during a Continental Airlines flight bound for Houston. He screamed “Allah Akbar” while trying to light something in the plane’s cabin.
  • In 2011, a Saudi student was arrested on charges of plotting to bomb the Texas home of former President George W. Bush.
  • In 2012, a Saudi student living here on an expired F-1 visa was arrested for threatening to blow up the White House.

The Saudis can also use their vocational visas to enroll in U.S. flight schools as the hijackers did.

A recent study by the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies found that three of the five top M-1 approved schools in the U.S. are flight schools. It also found that thousands of Saudis have arrived here on M-1 visas since Clinton loosened visa restrictions for travelers from the Kingdom.

Authorities are having a hard enough time dealing with all the homegrown terrorists cropping up. The FBI has more than 1,000 terrorism cases open on ISIS suspects in all 50 states. Agents don’t need new waves of young Muslim men from Saudi Arabia to worry about tracking, as well.

By dumping potentially thousands more Saudi extremists into the homeland security system, the administration is worsening the odds that law enforcement can catch terrorists before they strike.



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