Joel Mowbray

  The moral of the stories of the thwarted terrorists is that they weren?t able to commit mass murder on September 11 because they weren?t Saudis.

  In those cases, the law was followed.  And the law is very simple: any person who applies for a visa is considered ineligible until he proves himself qualified to obtain one.  An applicant must show sufficient ties to his home country and offer a legitimate?and believable?purpose for traveling here.  Though those factors weren?t designed with terrorism in mind, they might as well have been.

  The people least likely to convince the consular officer of their qualifications are young, shiftless men?the people most likely to be terrorists.  Young, single men without permanent employment can?t show strong ties to their home country, and any supposed month-long vacation plans should seem sketchy without a salary to pay for it all.

  But the law was not followed in Saudi Arabia, where even woefully ineligible applicants were approved.  This columnist was the first journalist to obtain the visa applications of 15 of the 9/11 terrorists (those of the other four had been destroyed), and the bias favoring Saudis was clear.

  Consider, for example, the U.S. destinations most of them listed. Only one of the 15 provided an actual address ? and that was only because his first application was refused.  The rest listed only general locations, such as "California," "New York," "Hotel D.C.," and "Hotel." One terrorist amazingly listed his U.S. destination as simply "No." Even more amazingly, he got a visa. 

  The inevitable question the 9/11 Commission is likely to pose, then, is: what would have happened had the law also been followed in Saudi Arabia?

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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