It’s been over 10 years since the 9/11 terror attacks, yet we still have not learned the lessons that are so vital to preventing another terror attack.
This past Friday, we all heard the shocking news that a suicide bomber plot against the U.S. Capitol had been foiled by the FBI and the Capitol police. Far less surprising was the ethnicity, religion, and birthplace of the terrorist. The terrorist, who was caught carrying defunct explosives near the Capitol, is a 29-year-old Muslim male from Morocco. His name is El Khalifi. He was caught a few hours after he attended peaceful services at the Dar Al-Hijrah, a Falls Church Mosque that was once led by Anwar al-Awlaki. Nidal Malik Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter, was also among the esteemed worshippers at this mosque before he plotted his attack.
The more important question is how did Khalifi enter the country? Did he fly in on a magic carpet from Afghanistan? Did he run across the southern border? Nope. Like many of the unsuccessful terrorists since 9/11 (44 others, according to the Heritage Foundation), he came through a legal point of entry, but overstayed his B-2 tourist visa …by 13 years.
Over the past 10 years, we have focused a lot on the foreign threat of Islamic terrorism, fighting wars on multiple fronts halfway across the world. While there is definitely a need to fight the terrorists wherever they exist, we cannot lose sight of the one inviolable aspect of the war on terror; homeland security. The bottom line is that nobody can harm us on our soil unless they first enter the country. So while we fight wars abroad, we must remember not to leave our front door open at home. To that end, we have failed miserably to properly screen those who enter the country on travel and student visas from the Middle East and North Africa. Even though border security is of upmost importance, we cannot overlook the vulnerabilities in our legal entry process.
The most important thing to remember is that the 9/11 hijackers did not sneak into the country illegally, they came in legally with B-2 visas. And they were quite successful. The 19 hijackers applied for 23 visas and obtained 22. According to the 9/11 Commission, “the conspirators attempted to enter the United States 34 times over 21 months, through nine airports.”
The million dollar question is why we are still not doing everything in our power to prevent these people from coming here in the first place? Or in the case of this terror suspect, who came in 1999, why are we not mandating follow up inspections and implementing a dependable visa exit system? With all the focus on the domestic component of the immigration debate, we often lose sight of the national security issues. There is no reason why we should not have a bipartisan consensus to deal with our defective visa exit system.
And finally, when are we going to terminate the puerile yet dangerous political correctness that is forcing us to disregard the source of the existential threat? Those Mormons and Quakers are going to kill us one day!