President Joe Biden's handling of the situation in Afghanistan continues getting worse. As the White House scrambles to extract as many people from the region as possible before the August 31 deadline, it seems it might also be giving terrorists opportunities to tag along on the trip to the United States.
The Washington Examiner is reporting that the State Department has been sending blank visa forms to Afghans trapped in Kabul. Kenneth Gray, a senior lecturer in the Fire Science and Emergency Management Department at the University of New Haven in Connecticut and a former FBI agent who worked counterterrorism cases in Afghanistan stated that radical extremists could use these documents to gain entry into the United States. He said:
“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.”
David Fox, an American civilian stranded in Kabul, told the Examiner that he received a “lookalike visa paper from the State Department.” He said these papers were sent to “thousands of other citizens and immigrants” who could qualify for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). The report noted, “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 observed. “You have tens of thousands of Afghans who now have this kind of ridiculous, bogus document that the State Department created.”
The fact that the forms are missing this important information means officials will not know if an individual submitting the paperwork was the intended recipient. Gray said:
“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.”
However, some think this oversight won't result in terrorists gaining access to the U.S. Dr. Gary Ackerman, a professor at the University at Albany in New York said:
“I don't think the top echelon of al Qaeda or ISIS is going to be strolling down Central Park in New York City.”
“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.'”
But the Examiner piece notes that U.S. officials have tools on hand to screen out fraudulent applicants:
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.
Still, it seems possible that, while officials might be able to weed out those who wish to carry out terrorist attacks on American soil, this oversight only makes their job more difficult. It is not hard to imagine that someone could make a mistake that could allow operatives working with ISIS or al-Qaeda to slip into the country.
It seems that the State Department could have found a much more secure way to ensure they are taking the right people out of the country. But, as with most things, the Biden administration seems intent on messing it up.