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October 23, 2005
My, We're A Welcoming People

After 9/11, we asked ourselves how nineteen Islamofascist terrorists could have made their way into the United States and infiltrated our society. We found out that our visa system had so many holes in it that we could not begin to guess how many more may have set up residence in America, just waiting to attack us from within. Sixteen of these terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, the last three of which didn't even need to go to an American facility to get their visas; instead they received the key documents from their travel agents under the Visa Express system.

After 9/11, we demanded an end to such programs, especially with Saudi Arabia, which supplies an inordinate amount of the Islamist radicals to the al-Qaeda cause. This supposedly has been the American policy since the attacks, and as far as any public statements, that policy has never been reversed.

Or has it?

According to London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, the Saudis expect to send over 10,000 new students to the US in the coming year and 21,000 over the next four as part of a program based on the relaxation of visa requirements with the US (h/t: CQ reader Michael):

More than 10,000 Saudi students will travel to the US to attend university as part of a government-sponsored program following the adoption of new measures by the Ministry of Higher Education aimed at facilitating travel procedures for Saudis. In total, 21,000 Saudis are expected to take part in the program in the next four years.

Prospective students can submit their applications to the Ministry of Higher Education through a Ministry special office or its website for nine different specializations and will be able to benefit from assistance with their visa applications at the US embassy and its diplomatic missions throughout the country. ...

Half of the prospective students will be sponsored by Saudi businesses to further their knowledge in a given field making use of bilateral treaties offering Saudis a number of opportunities in U.S. universities across the country.

Well, well. It appears that the Saudis have received a bit more flexibility -- and we will be hosting more of them in our communities as students. Perhaps if they pass strict scrutiny and maintain registry and security requirements, that may help reduce the radicalism of the Saudi youth. Unfortunately, that's what we used to think before 9/11, too.

Has something changed? The Saudis have taken terrorism more seriously since the May 2003 bombing attack in Riyadh by al-Qaeda, of course. However, the royal family still supports the Wahhabist strain of Islam that gave birth to the Islamofascist movement AQ represents and Osama bin Laden leads. It's hard to imagine that the Saudis will promote the overseas education of young people who seriously dissent from its Wahhabist teachings or the oppressive government that enforces it as law in Saudi Arabia.

I think we need to ask the State Department if we've relaxed entry requirements into the US, especially with our Saudi "friends", and if so, who decided to do that.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 23, 2005 6:51 PM

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