A former FBI special agent who tracked counterterrorism cases warned that terrorists in Afghanistan stand a high chance of being able to walk right onto U.S.-bound planes as a result of the Biden administration's dissemination of blank visa papers throughout the country.
“The threat of having Islamic State or al Qaeda come into the country is not increased through the southwest border,” said Kenneth Gray, a senior lecturer in the Fire Science and Emergency Management Department at the University of New Haven in Connecticut.
“It’s the entry of al Qaeda and Islamic State in the groups of refugees that are being taken out of Afghanistan and possibly to the United States because of the lack of vetting procedures that would normally go on to expedite getting all of these people out of Afghanistan," he said.
David Fox, an American trapped in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, revealed last week that he received a lookalike visa paper from the State Department. The same paper, he claimed, was sent to thousands of other citizens and immigrants who may qualify for the Special Immigrant Visa. The form is blank with no name, serial number, or bar code.
“What do you think happened when these people received a document like this that has no name? Of course, they printed out a thousand copies,” Fox added. “You have tens of thousands of Afghans who now have this kind of ridiculous, bogus document that the State Department created.”
The lack of information on the form, which is used to screen refugees seeking admission on planes out of the country, means that U.S. officials cannot know if someone with that paper was intended to have it or if the visa was photocopied.
“When you provide blank visas without specific names already on them and without going through the vetting process, don’t be surprised when you end up with ISIS or al Qaeda showing up with those visas in hand,” Gray said, adding that it was illogical for terrorists to go about illegally entering the country at the U.S.-Mexico border due to this caveat.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency responsible for inspecting people at land, air, and sea ports of entry, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner that it tracks known or suspected terrorists through a multilayered, rigorous screening process.
Dr. Gary Ackerman, a professor at the University at Albany in New York, does not think “thousands” of already radicalized people will be showing up any time soon in the U.S.
“I don’t think the top echelon of al Qaeda or ISIS is going to be strolling down Central Park in New York City,” said Ackerman, who teaches at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity and is a terrorism consultant for federal agencies. "I don’t think it’s a huge threat of somebody saying, 'I know what the visa papers look like — I’m going to do Photoshop and do it and come to the U.S.'"
Terror watch lists and other databases are far more comprehensive now than they were decades ago, and names on any document would be screened against federal databases. In addition, biometric data that includes facial scans and fingerprints will help federal authorities determine if an applicant is committing fraud.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a Department of Homeland Security agency, will follow up with those admitted, and if any concerns arise after being released, Ackerman said the government can and will pursue them.
Ackerman was more concerned about longer-term issues, including how the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan affects jihadists globally and if the domestic terrorism threat in the U.S. amps up in response to what is happening overseas.
The acting interior minister of Afghanistan Masoud Andrabi alleged recently that the new leader of ISIS Khorasan branch, Shahab Almahajir, is a terrorist of the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network terrorist.