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9/11 Commission: one consular officer issued hijackers 11 visas

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KJF Donating Member (792 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-17-06 08:52 AM
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9/11 Commission: one consular officer issued hijackers 11 visas
Problems with the hijackers' visas have been discussed before, but I found this little snippet in the 9/11 Commission's Terrorist Travel Monograph:

"Two of the hijackers were issued visas in Berlin; two were issued visas in the United Arab Emirates. The remaining 15 were issued a total of 18 visas in Saudi Arabia, 14 of which were issued in Jeddah (11 by the same consular officer), and 4 in Riyadh."
Terrorist Travel, p. 33 (p. 41 of the .pdf). Link:

This doesn't mean that the consular officer necessarily issued visas to 11 hijackers, because some hijackers (Saeed Al Ghamdi, Ahmed Al Nami and Khalid Al Mihdhar) got 2 visas from Jeddah (although how Al Mihdhar could get a new passport in Saudi Arabia when they knew he was a terrorist and they have a list of people who can't get new passports because they are terrorists and how he could get another US visa when the US knew he was a terrorist and had even conducted a major surveillance operation against him involving 8 CIA field stations, 6 foreign intelligence services, the NSA and the FBI is still a bit of a mystery). Maybe the consular officer only issued visas to 8 hijackers and three of them got two visas, or maybe it was some other combination.

The problem with the hijackers visas is that they could be described as "incomplete" at best. One guy even wrote "No" for his destination . The 9/11 Timeline says:

October 23, 2002: Handling of Hijackers Visa Applications Denounced
Visa applications for the 15 Saudi Arabian hijackers are made public, and six separate experts agree: All of them should have been denied entry . Joel Mowbray, who first breaks the story for the conservative National Review, says he is shocked by what he saw: I really was expecting al-Qaeda to have trained their operatives well, to beat the system. They didnt have to beat the system, the system was rigged in their favor from the get-go. A former US consular officer says the visas show a pattern of criminal negligence. Some examples: Abdulaziz Alomari claimed to be a student but didnt name a school; claimed to be married but didnt name a spouse; under nationality and gender, he didnt list anything. Khalid Almihdhar ... simply listed Hotel as his US destinationno name, no city, no state but no problem getting a visa. Only one actually gave a US destination, and one stated his destination as no. Only Hani Hanjour had a slight delay in acquiring his visa. His first application was flagged because he wrote he wanted to visit for three years when the legal limit is two. When he returned two weeks later, he simply changed the form to read one year and was accepted. The experts agree that even allowing for chance, incompetence, and human error, the odds were that only a few should have been approved.
You can also have a look at some of the hijackers' visa applications - they are towards the back of Terrorist Travel.

Perhaps coincidentally, the Jeddah consulate was one end of an underground railroad that had sent Islamist fighters for training in the US. The 9/11 Timeline says:

September 1987-March 1989: Head US Consular Official Claims Hes Told to Issue Visas to Unqualified Applicants
Michael Springmann, head US consular official in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, later claims that during this period he is repeatedly told to issue visas to unqualified applicants. He turns them down, but is repeatedly overruled by superiors. Springmann loudly complains to numerous government offices, but no action is taken. He is fired and his files on these applicants are destroyed. He later learns that recruits from many countries fighting for bin Laden against Russia in Afghanistan were funneled through the Jeddah office to get visas to come to the US, where the recruits would travel to train for the Afghan war. According to Springmann, the Jeddah consulate was run by the CIA and staffed almost entirely by intelligence agents. This visa system may have continued at least through 9/11, and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers received their visas through Jeddah, possibly as part of this program.

Alternatively, an employee at the Jeddah consulate was convicted of providing fraudulent visas to applicants. The 9/11 Timeline says:

May 21, 2002: Fraudulent Consular Staff Admits to Providing Hijackers with Visas
Abdulla Noman, a former employee of the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers got their visas, says that he took money and gifts to provide fraudulent visas to foreigners. He pleads guilty and is convicted. About 50 to 100 visas were improperly issued by Noman from September 1996 until November 2001, when he was arrested. However, a former visa officer in Jeddah, Michael Springmann, has claimed in the past that the Jeddah office was notorious for purposefully giving visas to terrorists to train in the US (see September 1987-March 1989).

Unfortunately, the FBI assigned their worst agent to the Saudi Arabia end of the 9/11 investigation; it collapsed after getting nowhere and piles of the documents it had gathered were shredded. Link:
So we don't yet know which visas were issued by whom on whose instructions or after what gifts changed hands. Shame...
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