America's homeland security amnesia never ceases to amaze. In the aftermath of the botched Times Square terror attack over the weekend, Pakistani-born bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad's U.S. citizenship status caused a bit of shock and awe. The Atlantic magazine writer Jeffrey Goldberg's response was typical: "I am struck by the fact that he is a naturalized American citizen, not a recent or temporary visitor." Well, wake up and smell the deadly deception.
Shahzad's path to American citizenship -- he reportedly married an American woman, Huma Mian, in 2008 after spending a decade in the country on foreign student and employment visas -- is a tried-and-true terror formula. Jihadists have been gaming the sham marriage racket with impunity for years. And immigration benefit fraud has provided invaluable cover and aid for U.S.-based Islamic plotters, including many other operatives planning attacks on New York City. As I've reported previously:
-- El Sayyid A. Nosair wed Karen Ann Mills Sweeney to avoid deportation for overstaying his visa. He acquired U.S. citizenship, allowing him to remain in the country, and was later convicted for conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that claimed six lives.
-- Ali Mohamed became an American citizen after marrying a woman he met on a plane trip from Egypt to New York. Recently divorced, Linda Lee Sanchez wed Mohamed in Reno, Nev., after a six-week "courtship." Mohamed became a top aide to Osama bin Laden and was later convicted for his role in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Africa that killed 12 Americans and more than 200 others.
-- Embassy bombing plotter Khalid Abu al Dahab obtained citizenship after marrying three different American women.
-- Embassy bombing plotter Wadih el Hage, Osama bin Laden's personal secretary, married April Ray in 1985 and became a naturalized citizen in 1989. Ray knew of her husband's employment with bin Laden, but like many of these women in bogus marriages, she pleaded ignorance about the nature of her husband's work. El Hage, she says, was a sweet man, and bin Laden "was a great boss."
-- Lebanon-born Chawki Youssef Hammoud, convicted in a Hezbollah cigarette-smuggling operation based out of Charlotte, N.C., married American citizen Jessica Fortune for a green card to remain in the country.
-- Hammoud's brother, Mohammed Hammoud, married three different American women. After arriving in the United States on a counterfeit visa, being ordered deported and filing an appeal, he wed Sabina Edwards to gain a green card. Federal immigration officials refused to award him legal status after this first marriage was deemed bogus in 1994. Undaunted, he married Jessica Wedel in May 1997 and, while still wed to her, paid Angela Tsioumas (already married to someone else, too) to marry him in Detroit. The Tsioumas union netted Mohammed Hammoud temporary legal residence to operate the terror cash scam. He was later convicted on 16 counts that included providing material support to Hezbollah.
-- A total of eight Middle Eastern men who plotted to bomb New York landmarks in 1993 -- Fadil Abdelgani, Amir Abdelgani, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, Tarig Elhassan, Abdo Mohammed Haggag, Fares Khallafalla, Mohammed Saleh, and Matarawy Mohammed Said Saleh -- all obtained legal permanent residence by marrying American citizens.
A year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, homeland security officials cracked a massive illegal alien Middle Eastern marriage fraud ring in a sting dubbed "Operation Broken Vows." Authorities were stunned by the scope of the operations, which stretched from Boston to South Carolina to California. But marriage fraud remains a treacherous path of least resistance. The waiting period for U.S. citizenship is cut by more than half for marriage visa beneficiaries. Sham marriage monitoring by backlogged homeland security investigators is practically nonexistent.
As former federal immigration official Michael Cutler warned years ago: "Immigration benefit fraud is certainly one of the major 'dots' that was not connected prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and remains a 'dot' that is not really being addressed the way it needs to be in order to secure our nation against criminals and terrorists who understand how important it is for them to 'game' the system as a part of the embedding process."
Jihadists have knowingly and deliberately exploited our lax immigration and entrance policies to secure the rights and benefits of American citizenship while they plot mass murder -- and we haven't done a thing to stop them.
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