|Israel Resource Review
||12th Febuary, 2003
The US Religious Worker Visa
Call it the Radical Muslim Cleric Importation Plan. Under the religious worker visa ("R visa") program, an unknown number of Middle Easterners claiming to be imams or other mosque employees have been admitted to the United States with minimal scrutiny.
According to a complaint from the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York unsealed last week, Muslim religious leader Muhammed Khalil, his son Asim, and three other individuals submitted false R visa applications on behalf of more than 200 Middle Eastern aliens. Although Khalil and his cronies were nabbed after an 18-month investigation, federal authorities are mum on the whereabouts of the Middle Eastern illegal aliens who purchased fake R visas from Khalil and his colleagues.
The R visa program, created by Congress in 1990, gives visas to thousands of foreigners to fill alleged domestic shortages among ministries, nunneries, and other religious professionals. In 1998, some 11,000 foreigners received such visas. According to a 1999 General Accounting Office report, federal investigators have discovered R visa fraud rings involving churches and other religious institutions based in Colombia, Fiji, and Russia.
The mastermind of the 1993 WorldTradeCenter bombing, Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, had an R visa. So did four Palestinian men who worked for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and the Islamic Association for Palestine-both Muslim charities that the State Department has linked to the terrorist organization Hamas.
The 1999 GAO report highlighted persistent lapses in oversight. "Neither INS nor [the] State [Department] knows the overall extent of fraud in the religious worker visa program," the report concluded.
No one knows! TomRidge, are you listening? It's going to take more than duct tape and plastic sheeting to fix this problem.
This much is clear to immigration veterans: The R visa program is a notorious law enforcement evasion scheme under which a number of religious facilities have been established as fronts to enable foreign nationals to enter the U.S. using false identities and evade criminal and terrorist watch lists.
Khalil's ring charged up to $8,000 per person. His mosque sponsored more than 200 applicants seeking work visas through the INS program, alleging they were religious workers who taught the Koran, Islamic history and the Arabic language. According to the complaint, Khalil supplied fake names ("Amjad Hussain," "Mohammad Amjad," "Amjad Ali Chaudhry"); fake degrees (from the University of Punjab); and fake religious training certificates (for the "Nazra Quran Course").
Assistant U.S. attorney Edward O'Callaghan revealed in court last week that Khalil made taped comments to an undercover witness proclaiming allegiance with Osama bin Laden and fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. "Hopefully," Khalil reportedly mused, "another attack in the United Stateswill come shortly."
Details about how Khalil first arrived in the U.S., why he was allowed to stay, and how he came back to acquire U.S. citizenship are sketchy. But it's enough to raise alarm bells about the continued laxity in policing fraud in the so-called "immigration services" branch of the federal homeland security bureaucracy.
Prosecutors said Khalil arrived in the United States in 1973, agreed to leave the country at the request of the INS in the late 1970s and returned in the early 1980s. By 1987, he had secured U.S. citizenship.
Will President Bush's new appointee to head the Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services get on the ball and get to the bottom of this debacle? Not likely Eduardo Aguirre Jr., like former Immigration and Naturalization Services chief James Ziglar, has zero experience with immigration law or law enforcement. He is a top bureaucrat at the U.S. Export-Import Bank who worked for Bank of America for 24 years, and whose main qualification is being a Cuban immigrant who, according to the White House, was named "One of the 100 most Influential Hispanics in the Nation" by Hispanic Business Magazine for three consecutive years.
And we're supposed to believe the feds are on high terror alert? Color me unconvinced.
JWR contributor Michelle Malkin is the author of, most recently, "Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores".
Published on February 12, 2003 at
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The PA - Iraqi Axis
Arab Affairs Analyst, Yediot Ahronot
Between closure and curfew, between terror
attack and IDF retaliation, in the midst of their social and
economic misery, the Palestinians are finding time to protest
against the war in Iraq and to show solidarity with the Iraqi
people and its rulers.
Last Friday there was a large demonstration in Gaza, on Monday in Kalkilya,
two days ago the children of Gaza offered a prayer against the war,
yesterday there was a large protest in Ramallah, and today there is another
protest planned in Gaza. The Palestinians promise that as the winds of war
blow harder there will be more demonstrations and acts of protest . . .
The Palestinians see the war in Iraq as a juncture from which it will be
possible to embark on a new political course. Arafat hopes to profit from
the post-war order, so despite his solidarity with Saddam Hussein, war is
not a bad option as far as he is concerned. For this reason the large
demonstrations, especially those led by Hamas, embarrass him. Arafat is
also embarrassed by the Iraqi financial aid that flows into the
territories: only this week, according to sources in Gaza, half a million
dollars arrived to be distributed to families of shahids. After he
shouted, "A million martyrs marching to Jerusalem," he cannot reject the
Iraqi aid. But still, over the past two weeks he tried to cool the
excitement of the masses, and his men worked behind the scenes to remove
the posters of Saddam Hussein from the streets. Arafat tried to create the
impression that the Palestinians' protest against the war is similar to
that in the US: the support is directed at the Iraqi people, not at its
The wait for the war this time is accompanied by the Palestinians'
concern that Israel will take advantage of the international attention in
order to hit the Palestinians hard, to occupy Gaza or even carry out a mass
expulsion to Jordan. In Ramallah, Nablus, and Gaza residents are storing
gas, medicine, flour, and even chlorine to purify drinking water.
On the fringes of Palestinian politics there are voices, mostly those of
intellectuals, which support taking advantage of the offensive in Iraq in
order to end the Intifada. Because of these voices, concerns have been
expressed that the Intifada will fade during the war, and that it will be
difficult to re-ignite it in the future. Another concern expressed is that
Sharon will take advantage of the terror attacks to retaliate harshly.
Azzam el-Ahmed, a member of the Palestinian cabinet who bears the title
of the Ambassador of Palestine in Baghdad, says: "For us, the war in Iraq
is an important way station, for better or worse. On the one hand, it
could lead to a new atmosphere and advance Palestinian interests. On the
other hand, Sharon might take advantage of the war to strike at the
Palestinians and reshuffle the deck. For now we are waiting: We know how
the war will start, and we do not know how it will end."
Money and Morale
The Palestinian street shows full solidarity with Iraq and with its
ruler. Arab countries that have allowed the US army to deploy on their
territory are seen by the Palestinians as "traitors," while Saddam is seen
as a hero. Pictures of him are in the papers, and the Iraqi flag is a
common sight at demonstrations and funerals. The Palestinians say that
Saddam Hussein, more than any other Arab leader, helps the Intifada both in
terms of money and of morale.
Two months after the outbreak of the Intifada, Salem Raked,
director-general of the Arab Liberation Front, a pro-Iraqi Palestinian
terror organization, went to Baghdad to meet with Saddam. Saddam asked
that members of Raked's organization not tarry behind Hamas and Fatah, and
that they join the struggle against Israel. Immediately after he returned
to Ramallah Raked met with Arafat, relayed greetings from Saddam, and
requested weapons. Arafat promised him ten rifles. When two weeks went by
with no sign of the guns, Raked decided to forget Arafat's promises, and he
purchased weapons with money he received from Baghdad: six Kalashnikov
rifles, two M-16s, and a handgun. The weapons were given to terrorists
from the Arab Liberation Front, who began carrying out terror attacks on
roads near Ramallah.
Five months ago Raked went back to Arafat and asked him to keep his
promise and give him weapons. This time the rais did not let him down: he
wrote a few words to Haj Ismail, the commander of the Palestinian security
services, and Haj Ismail gave him a Kalashnikov and a handgun.
The Arab Liberation Front, which is funded by Iraqi intelligence,
numbers no more than a few hundred members and supporters in the West Bank
and Gaza. This is one of the two terror arms that Iraq operates in the
territories. The second is the Palestinian Liberation Front, headed by
Mohammed Abbas, the man who hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship. Over
the past two years he has been planning large-scale terror attacks such as
poisoning water sources, planting a large bomb at Ben-Gurion Airport,
blowing up a Tel Aviv skyscraper, and taking over a tank and killing huge
numbers of people with its shells. These plans, among others, were approved
by the Iraqis and were in advanced stages of preparation: terrorists from
the West Bank were sent to Iraq to train under the command of an Iraqi
officer named Bassam al-Ashkar, who is in charge of the ties with the
Palestinians. The training included, among other things, a course on how
to drive a tank. Luckily, the Israeli GSS worked efficiently, and the
terrorists, including Raked, were arrested.
Educating the Children of the Dead
Iraq is one of the main financial backers of the Intifada. The rates
that Saddam set at the beginning of the conflict were as follows: USD
10,000 to the family of someone killed, USD 1,000 to someone who was
wounded and disabled as a result, and USD 500 for someone lightly wounded.
Saddam also committed himself to covering all educational expenses for the
children of those killed, from kindergarten to university, and promised to
provide free medical treatment in Iraq or Jordan to those wounded in the
Intifada. In May 2001, when suicide bombings became routine, the Iraqi
president announced: "Whoever carries out such an operation is not
committing suicide but is sacrificing his soul for God." In order to give
more weight to his words, he raised the rate and decided to give the family
of each suicide bomber USD 15,000. A few months later the rate was raised
to USD 25,000. All told, Iraq has given the Palestinians more than USD 15
million over the past two years.
Last March, at a meeting with a Palestinian delegation headed by Farouk
Kadumi, Saddam announced his intention to give the Palestinians one billion
dollars, in the framework of the "oil for food" program approved for Iraq
by the UN. The grant was held up by the UN's sanctions committee, which
claimed that giving such generous aid contradicted Iraq's claim that its
people were suffering under the yoke of the siege. The Iraqi people might
be dealing with serious difficulties, but only a month later, at the end of
April, Saddam announced that he would give USD 25,000 to any resident of
the Jenin refugee camp whose house had been destroyed.
But the wide support that the Iraqi leader enjoys on the Palestinian
street is not only because of the financial aid. The Palestinians explain
their deeply-felt solidarity by emphasizing the similarity that they see
between their suffering and that of the Iraqi people. They see the
American war against Iraq as a mirror of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
and the struggle between East and West.
Committees supporting the Iraqi people have begun to be active in the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip, overseen by Abdullah Hurani of Gaza. "The
Palestinian people, like all of the nations of the world, are demonstrating
against the war," he says. "We have known war, we know what suffering is,
what death and destruction are, and so we oppose the war. This is a war of
the wild West against law and logic: Rambo against Hammurabi."
The question is how the Palestinians will behave during the war itself.
The commanders of the Palestinian security organizations believe that if
American bombs cause a large number of Iraqi dead, there will be an
outbreak of anger in the territories, as well as in all Arab countries.
But in the territories the protests will be directed at Israel as well, and
there is only a short distance from there to another wave of suicide bombings.
This piece ran on February 7, 2003 in Yediot
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The Ruling in Brussels for
Ariel Sharon to Stand Trial for War Crimes
What Did the Belgian Judges Rule?
Maariv (p. 11) by Sefi Hendler -- Belgium's High Appeals Court ruled
yesterday that as long as Ariel Sharon serves as prime minister his
immunity is valid, but that at the end of his term in office it will be
possible to investigate him for his part in the massacre at Sabra and
Shatilla in 1982.
This was an unprecedented decision which overruled that of a lower court
and established that it is possible to try any person, even if he is not a
Belgian citizen and is not in Belgium, for war crimes, crimes against
humanity, and human rights violations. The Belgian judges explained their
decision, which allows the trial of a person who is not on Belgian soil, by
noting the gravity of the deeds of which the Israeli prime minister is
The suit against Sharon was filed in 2001 by a group of Palestinian
survivors from the massacre at Sabra and Shatila. The claimants accused
the prime minister, who was then serving as defense minister, and three
other senior IDF officers of being responsible for the massacre that took
place in the refugee camps during the Lebanon War. The suit was filed in
the framework of the "universal authority" law adopted by Belgium, a law
which Belgium claims allows it to try any person anywhere in the world for
crimes against humanity.
Last year the Appeals Court issued a clear ruling in Sharon's favor.
But since then there has been a broad public campaign in Belgium, joined by
the media, legalists, and members of the Parliament and the Senate, to
change the law and allow Sharon to be tried.
The most worrisome significance of the law in the short term is that
starting yesterday Belgian judges can issue arrest warrants for the three
former officers involved in the case: Raphael Eitan, Amos Yaron, and Amir
Drori. Such warrants would require all of the countries which are members
of Interpol to arrest the Israelis and turn them over to Belgium.
Scandalous Provocation by Belgium
Maariv (p. 10) by Ilel Shahar et al. -- A serious diplomatic crisis
erupted yesterday between Israel and Belgium in wake of the decision of the
Supreme Court in Brussels to allow the trial of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Prime Minister's Office called the decision a "scandalous
provocation on the part of the Belgians". Foreign Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu instructed Israel's ambassador in Brussels, Yehuda Kenar, to
return to Israel for consultations. At the same time, Netanyahu invited
Belgium's ambassador in Israel, Wilfred Geens, for an urgent discussion
that is expected to take place today.
After Jerusalem heard about the Belgian court ruling, the Prime
Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry began holding intensive
consultations. One proposal raised was to cut off diplomatic ties with
Brussels and recall Israel's ambassador. This step would be difficult to
carry out, because Ambassador Kenar, who replaced Shaul Amor, has yet to
present his credentials to the Belgian king. No final decision has been
made on the subject, and it was decided to recall the ambassador for the
purpose of consultations alone.
Diplomatic sources expressed displeasure with the court's decision to
reject Israel's position that Belgium cannot try people who are not on its
soil. The practical significance is that as far as the Belgians are
concerned, it is now possible for them to try the three other figures
against whom the suit was filed: the chief-of-staff at the time of the
Lebanon War, Raphael Eitan, then-OC Northern Command Amir Drori, and the
commander of the division that besieged the camps, Amos Yaron, who is
currently director-general of the Defense Ministry. Jerusalem is
concerned that the precedent-setting ruling will lead to dozens of suits
being filed against Israeli army officers.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded with outrage to the Belgian
court decision. "This is a scandalous decision that gives legitimacy to
terrorism and damages those who are fighting it. This is upside down". Those who are fighting terror have become the accused and the terrorists have become the victors. Belgium is helping to hurt not only Israel but also the whole free world, and Israel will respond with due gravity," said
Daniel Shek, the Foreign Ministry's representative in the delegation
that was sent to Belgium this week for the hearing, said in response:
"Though the ruling stops the legal proceeding against Sharon, it is
problematic because it gives the Belgian legal system the power to try
foreign citizens with no connection to Belgian territory. We intend to
study the decision and in the next few days we will decide how to respond".
The director of the international department in the State Attorney's
Office, Irit Kahan, emphasized that Israel would provide legal protection
to all of the people against whom suits are filed. She admitted that she
was surprised by the ruling, which contradicted the position of Belgium's
Prosecutor General. "They apparently think that they have all the
authority in the world", she said, "and they will be responsible for the
results". Kahan believes that the Palestinians did not win the case: "I
did not see any expression of happiness in their legal team, because their
goal was to hurt Prime Minister Sharon and to make it difficult for him to
function". She added, "This subject is not connected only to Israel, but to
all of the countries in the world. I believe that the responses will not be
long in coming"
It should be noted that in Belgium there are currently 22 investigations
underway against serving and past heads of state. Israel will try to
coordinate its positions with Britain and the US. The State Attorney's
Office will be holding a series of consultations over the next few days
regarding the significance of the decision and on ways of dealing with it
Dr. Ruby Sobel, an expert on international law who served in the past as
the Foreign Ministry's legal adviser, told Maariv yesterday, "The State of
Israel' practical response should be to encourage the filing of suits
against figures who committed war crimes in the Arab world, so that Belgium
understands that the court's decision yesterday opened up a Pandora's box."
In the opinion of Dr. Sibel, "If dozens of suits are filed against Arafat
and other Palestinian and Arab leaders, it is likely that the Belgian court
will change its position on the matter".
Twisted and Outrageous
Maariv (p. 11) by Attorney Yehiel Gutman (legal analysis) -- The Belgian
Supreme Court ruling is impudent and a legal and political scandal, not
free of anti-Semitic considerations. It exposes each and every one of us,
citizens of the State of Israel who have served in the army, to the risk of
investigation, arrest and trial in Belgian, for acts or omissions we are
supposed to have made in the course of our army service.
The world order, since time immemorial, has determined that law is
territorial. In other words: every country is entitled to judge acts
committed in its territory, and sometimes, it is entitled to judge its
citizens for acts committed in other countries. International courts were
established only by UN institutions, and with general world consent.
The injudicious idea whereby a country legislates a law allowing it to
judge the citizens of another country for acts committed in another country
against people who are citizens of another country, is a twisted and
outrageous idea, that calls for organizing an international effort to
eliminate it while it is still new.
After all, with the greatest of ease, any country in the world can pass
a similar twisted law, and the result would be international chaos. Legal
piracy would prevail in the world, and any country could abduct, arrest,
investigate and put on trial citizens from any other country.
The solution is not legal, but political. It should be hoped that the
Americans will also enlist in the effort, or perhaps Belgium will decide to
put President Bush and his officers on trials for offenses attributed to
them in the war in Afghanistan, and perhaps also the coming war in Iraq.
Belgian Ruling Puts Mainly Top Security Officials at Risk
Yedioth Ahronoth (p. 9) by Tova Tzimuki (legal analysis) -- The Belgian
Supreme Court's ruling is the nightmare that all the political and legal
officials in Israel feared the last two years. Israel is very aware of the
dangers inherent in the trend expressed by the Belgian court, and is doing
the best it can to prepare for them.
For some time Israel has been warning against the trend in Europe today,
to apply international charters against war crimes in its internal laws. In
regard to Israel, this fear is very concrete. If European countries take
on this authority, citizens or human rights organizations abroad can file a
suit against well known politicians or against senior officers for their
ostensible "crimes" in an occupied area.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was "smuggled" three months ago from
Britain due to concern that he would be arrested for his actions as chief
of staff during the Intifada. Shimon Peres was advised not to go to
England at a certain time due to concern that he would be arrested because
of a suit against him for his responsibility for the mass deaths in Kafr
Kana. A similar and embarrassing incident also happened to Carmi Gillon,
the ambassador to Denmark, who was forced to avoid visiting Germany. This
authority is wielded differently in every country, and in any case, it is
only directed against senior officers and the average Israeli soldier from
the ranks has no reason to fear anything.
Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein has already announced that any
officer or Israeli envoy who is the subject of litigation, will be given
the best legal defense. One thing is certain, and that is that we will be
seeing more and more IDF officers being interviewed on television with
their backs to the camera.
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