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Profile: Immigration and Naturalization Service

 
  

Positions that Immigration and Naturalization Service has held:



 

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Immigration and Naturalization Service actively participated in the following events:

 
  

May 2001: Report Warns of al-Qaeda Infiltration from Canada      Complete 911 Timeline

       US intelligence obtains information that al-Qaeda is planning to infiltrate the US from Canada and carry out an operation using high explosives. The report does not say exactly where, when, or how an attack might occur. Two months later, the information is shared with the FBI, the INS, the US Customs Service, and the State Department, and it will be shared with President Bush in August. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, al-Qaeda, US Customs Service, US Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service
          

July 6, 2001: Clarke Briefs Senior Security Officials on al-Qaeda Threat      Complete 911 Timeline

       One day after heading a meeting on al-Qaeda with the Counterterrorism and Security Group, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke heads a similar meeting at the White House with senior security officials at the FAA, Immigration, Secret Service, Coast Guard, Customs, and other agencies. The CIA and FBI give briefings on the growing al-Qaeda threat. The CIA says al-Qaeda members “believe the upcoming attack will be ‘spectacular,’ qualitatively different from anything they have done to date.” [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] Then Clarke says, “You've just heard that CIA thinks al-Qaeda is planning a major attack on us. So do I. You heard CIA say it would probably be in Israel or Saudi Arabia. Maybe. But maybe it will be here. Just because there is no evidence that says that it will be here, does not mean it will be overseas. They may try to hit us at home. You have to assume that is what they are going to do. Cancel summer vacations, schedule overtime, have your terrorist reaction teams on alert to move fast. Tell me, tell each other, about anything unusual.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 236] Despite this and other warnings to the FBI, the FBI continues to inform state and local agencies that the chances of a terrorist attack is low (see Summer 2001).
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service, Counterterrorism and Security Group, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, US Coast Guard, Richard A. Clarke, Immigration and Naturalization Service, US Customs Service
          

July 13, 2001: CIA Reexamines Malaysia Meeting but Major League Killer Is Not Put on Watch List      Complete 911 Timeline

       The same supervisor of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center (CTC) who expressed interest two months earlier in surveillance photos from the al-Qaeda Malaysia meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) now finds a cable he had been looking for regarding that same meeting. The cable, from January 2001, discusses al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash's presence at the meeting. The supervisor explains later that bin Attash's presence at the meeting had been troubling him. He writes an e-mail to the CTC, stating, “[Bin Attash] is a major league killer, who orchestrated the Cole attack (see October 12, 2000) and possibly the Africa bombings (see August 7, 1998).” Yet bin Attash is still not put on a terrorist watch list. An FBI analyst assigned to the CTC is given the task of reviewing all other CIA cables about the Malaysian meeting. It takes this analyst until August 21—over five weeks later—to put together that Khalid Almihdhar had a US visa and that Nawaf Alhazmi had traveled to the US. Yet other CIA agents are already very aware of these facts but are not sharing the information. Working with immigration officials, this analyst then learns that Almihdhar entered and left the US in 2000, and entered again on July 4, 2001, and that Alhazmi appears to still be in the US. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Tawifiq ("Khallad") bin Attash, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi
          

August 23, 2001: Alhazmi and Almihdhar Are Finally Added to Terrorist Watch List      Complete 911 Timeline

       Thanks to the request of an unnamed FBI analyst assigned to the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center, the CIA sends a cable to the State Department, INS, Customs Service, and FBI requesting that “bin Laden-related individuals” Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, and Salah Saeed Mohammed bin Yousaf (an alias for Khallad bin Attash) be put on the terrorism watch list. All four individuals had attended the January 2000 al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia. The cable mostly focuses on Almihdhar, briefly outlining his attendance at the Malaysia meeting and his subsequent travel to the US in January 2000 and July 2001. Since March 2000, if not earlier, the CIA has had good reason to believe Alhazmi and Almihdhar were al-Qaeda operatives living in the US, but apparently did nothing and told no other agency about it until now. The hijackers are not located in time, and both die in the 9/11 attacks. FBI agents later state that if they been told about Alhazmi and Almihdhar sooner, “There's no question we could have tied all 19 hijackers together” given the frequent contact between these two and the other hijackers. [Office of the Inspector General, 11/04; Newsweek, 6/2/02; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/2004, p. 538] However, in what the Washington Post calls a “critical omission,” the FAA, the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the FBI's Financial Review Group are not notified. The two latter groups have the power to tap into private credit card and bank data, and claim they could have readily found Alhazmi and Almihdhar, given the frequency the two used credit cards. [Washington Post, 7/25/03 (C)] Furthermore, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and his Counterterrorism and Security Group are not told about these two operatives before 9/11 either. [Newsweek, 3/24/04] The CIA later claims the request was labeled “immediate,” the second most urgent category (the highest is reserved for things like declarations of war). [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01] The FBI denies that it was marked “immediate” and other agencies treated the request as a routine matter. [Los Angeles Times, 10/18/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] The State Department places all four men on the watch list the next day. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] However, this watch list, named TIPOFF, checks their names only if they use international flights. There is another watch list barring suspected terrorists from flying domestically. On 9/11, it contains only 12 names, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other al-Qaeda figures, and some names are added as late as August 28, 2001. But none of these four men are added to this domestic list before 9/11.(see April 24, 2000). [9/11 Commission, 1/26/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Tawifiq ("Khallad") bin Attash, Counterterrorism and Security Group, Federal Aviation Administration, US Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of State, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Khalid Almihdhar, TIPOFF, Nawaf Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

August 27, 2001: INS Given Non-Urgent Request to Determine Visa Status of Alhazmi and Almihdhar      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI contacts the State Department and the INS to determine the visa status of recently watch listed hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. Almihdhar's visa obtained in June is revoked the same day; Alhazmi's visa has already expired and he is in the country illegally. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] However neither agency is asked “to assist in locating the individuals, nor was any other information provided [that] would have indicated either a high priority or imminent danger.” An INS official later states, “if [the INS] had been asked to locate the two suspected terrorists... in late August on an urgent, emergency basis, it would have been able to run those names through its extensive database system and might have been able to locate them.” The State Department says that “it might have been able to locate the two suspected terrorists if it had been asked to do so.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Almihdhar, US Department of State, Nawaf Alhazmi, Immigration and Naturalization Service
          

November 23, 2001: More Israelis Arrested in Wake of 9/11      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Washington Post reports that “[a]t least 60 young Israeli Jews have been arrested and detained around the country on immigration charges since the September 11 attacks, many of them held on US government officials' invocation of national security.” An INS official who requested anonymity says the use of the term “special interest” for Israelis being held in Cleveland, St. Louis, and other places means the case in question is “related to the investigation of September 11th.” [Washington Post, 11/23/01] Most of them are deported. However, Intelligence Online claims that “For the overwhelming majority of the ring's members expelled, there was no problem at all with visas, and in the lists we only found a few minor cases of expired visas."” [Agence France-Presse, 3/6/02]
People and organizations involved: Immigration and Naturalization Service
          

December 12-15, 2001: News Reports Raises Israeli Spying Questions      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Two stills from Carl Cameron's Fox News report on potential Israeli spying in the US.
Fox News reports, “Investigators within the DEA, INS, and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying ... is considered career suicide.” “A highly placed investigator says there are ‘tie-ins’ between the spy ring and 9/11. However, when asked for details, he flatly refuses to describe them, saying, ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified information.’ ” The report also reveals that Amdocs, an Israeli company, is recording virtually every phone call in the US and could be passing information on to the Israeli government (similar claims were first raised in 2000 [Insight, 5/29/00] ). Fox News suggests that the position of this company might impede the 9/11 investigation. [Fox News, 12/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Amdocs, Drug Enforcement Agency, Israel
          

November 6-December 13, 2002: US Adds Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to New Immigration Restriction List Only After Pressure      Complete 911 Timeline

       The US tightens immigration restrictions for 18 countries. All males over age 16 coming to the US from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, or Yemen must register with the US government and be photographed and fingerprinted at their local INS office. [Newsday, 11/23/02; Washington Post 11/7/02 (B)] Two countries not included are: Pakistan (the home country of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and many other al-Qaeda members) and Saudi Arabia (the home country of bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers). After criticism that they were not included, these two countries are added to the list on December 13, 2002. [New York Times, 12/19/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
          

December 12, 2002: Most Detainees After 9/11 Released      Complete 911 Timeline

       The vast majority of the more than 900 people the federal government acknowledges detaining after the 9/11 attacks have been deported, released or convicted of minor crimes unrelated to terrorism, according to government documents. An undisclosed number—most likely in the dozens—are or were held as material witnesses. The Justice Department reports that only six of the 765 people arrested for immigration violations are still held by the INS. An additional 134 people were charged with criminal offenses, with 99 found guilty through pleas or trials. [Chicago Sun-Times, 12/12/02; Washington Post, 12/12/02] Newsweek reports that of the “more than 800 people” rounded up since 9/11, “only 10 have been linked in any way to the hijackings” and “probably will turn out to be innocent.” [Newsweek, 10/29/02]
People and organizations involved: Immigration and Naturalization Service, US Department of Justice
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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