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The Jerusalem Post revealed earlier tonight that a study of State Department figures show that visas granted to Saudis have doubled in 2006. The State Department stated that we are "pleased" at the increase:
For the first time since the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the US State Department has begun to sharply increase the number of entry visas granted to Saudi Arabian nationals seeking to visit the United States, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Figures obtained by the Post reveal that after three years of steady decline, 2005 saw the number of US visas issued to Saudis remain relatively stable, while this year the number has more than doubled.
In an e-mail to the Post, Amanda D. Rogers-Harper, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, confirmed that as of June 10, a total of 18,683 non-immigrant US visas had been issued to Saudi citizens since the start of the current fiscal year.
"This," she noted, "is twice as many as the 9,338 issuances to Saudis" in the corresponding period last year, marking an increase of over 100 percent in just the past 12 months. ...
"We are pleased to see an increase in visa applicants at posts around the world, including Saudi Arabia," Rogers-Harper said, adding that this year's increase could be attributed to "a new student scholarship program funded by the government of Saudi Arabia, which encourages students to pursue their studies in the US.
"We hope to see a continuation of this positive momentum," she added.
Of course this pleases Americans. After all, it's not as if students from Saudi Arabia traveling on visas ever caused us any problem before. Right? Oh, wait a minute -- I do recall reading something about Saudi student visas in a government report I read at one time. I think this was a relevant passage (page 226):
By the spring of 2000,Hanjour was back in Afghanistan.According to KSM, Hanjour was sent to him in Karachi for inclusion in the plot after Hanjour was identified in al Qaeda’s al Faruq camp as a trained pilot, on the basis of background information he had provided. Hanjour had been at a camp in Afghanistan for a few weeks when Bin Ladin or Atef apparently realized that he was a trained pilot; he was told to report to KSM, who then trained Hanjour for a few days in the use of code words.
On June 20, Hanjour returned home to Saudi Arabia. He obtained a U.S. student visa on September 25 and told his family he was returning to his job in the UAE. Hanjour did go to the UAE, but to meet facilitator Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.
Yes, we're delighted that so many Saudi students want to come to the United States. The program has shown great success in the past in allowing Saudis to come to our shores unchallenged. No wonder the State Department shows so much joy in their doubling of the numbers allowed to travel to our country.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on June 28, 2006 7:03 AM
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