Ramzi Yousef landed at New York City's JFK airport from Pakistan and flashed an Iraqi passport without a visa to inspectors. He was briefly detained for illegal entry and fingerprinted, but was allowed to remain in the country after invoking the magic words "political asylum." The then-INS released him because it didn't have enough space in its detention facility. Yousef headed to Jersey City to plot the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, a Palestinian bomb-builder, entered the U.S. illegally through Canada in 1996 and 1997. He claimed political asylum based on alleged persecution by Israelis, was released on a reduced $5,000 bond posted by a man who was himself an illegal alien, and then skipped his asylum hearing after calling his attorney and lying about his whereabouts. In June 1997, after his lawyer withdrew Mezer's asylum claim, a federal immigration judge ordered Mezer to leave the country on a "voluntary departure order." Mezer ignored the useless piece of paper. He joined a New York City bombing plot before being arrested in July 1997 after a roommate tipped off local police.
Mir Aimal Kansi, convicted in 1997 of capital murder and nine other charges stemming from his January 1993 shooting spree outside the CIA headquarters in McLean, Va., also exploited our insane asylum laxity. Despite his history as a known Pakistani militant who had participated in anti-American demonstrations abroad, Kansi received a business visa in 1991. After arrival, he claimed political asylum based on his ethnic minority status in Pakistan. While his asylum application was pending, he obtained a driver's license and an AK-47, murdered two CIA agents, and wounded three others.
The feds deserve credit for tracking down asylum abusers suspected of terrorism. But homeland security would be easier to achieve if they did a better job of keeping murderous frauds out in the first place.