America’s homeland-security amnesia never ceases to amaze. In the aftermath of the botched Times Square terror attack, Pakistani-born bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad’s U.S. citizenship status caused a bit of shock and awe. The Atlantic magazine writer Jeffrey Goldberg’s response was typical: “I am struck by the fact that he is a naturalized American citizen, not a recent or temporary visitor.” Well, wake up and smell the deadly deception.
Shahzad’s path to American citizenship — he reportedly married an American woman, Huma Mian, in 2008 after spending a decade in the country on foreign student and employment visas — is a tried-and-true terror formula. Jihadists have been gaming the sham-marriage racket for years. And immigration-benefit fraud has provided invaluable cover and aid for U.S.-based Islamic plotters, including many planning attacks on New York City. As I’ve reported previously:
* El Sayyid A. Nosair wed Karen Ann Mills Sweeney to avoid deportation for overstaying his visa. He acquired US citizenship, allowing him to remain in the country, and was later convicted for conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that claimed six lives.
* Ali Mohamed became a US citizen after marrying a woman he met on a plane trip from Egypt to New York. He became a top aide to Osama bin Laden and was later convicted for his role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa that killed 12 Americans and more than 200 others.
* Embassy-bombing plotter Khalid Abu al Dahab obtained citizenship after marrying three different American women.
* Embassy-bombing plotter Wadih el Hage, Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary, married April Ray in 1985 and became a naturalized citizen in 1989. Ray knew of her husband’s employment with bin Laden, but like many of these women in bogus marriages, she pleaded ignorance about her husband’s work.
* Lebanon-born Chawki Youssef Hammoud, convicted in a Hezbollah cigarette-smuggling operation based out of Charlotte, NC, married American citizen Jessica Fortune for a green card.
* Hammoud’s brother, Mohammed Hammoud, married three different American women. After arriving here on a counterfeit visa, being ordered deported and filing an appeal, he wed Sabina Edwards to gain a green card. Federal immigration officials refused to award him legal status after this first marriage was deemed bogus in 1994. Undaunted, he married Jessica Wedel in May 1997 and, while still wed to her, paid Angela Tsioumas to marry him in Detroit. The Tsioumas union netted Mohammed Hammoud temporary legal residence to operate the terror-cash scam. He was later convicted on 16 counts that included providing material support to Hezbollah.
* Eight Mideastern men who plotted to bomb New York landmarks in 1993 — Fadil Abdelgani, Amir Abdelgani, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, Tarig Elhassan, Abdo Mohammed Haggag, Fares Khallafalla, Mohammed Saleh and Matarawy Mohammed Said Saleh — all obtained legal permanent residence by marrying U.S. citizens.
A year after 9/11, homeland-security officials cracked a vast illegal-alien Middle Eastern marriage-fraud ring in “Operation Broken Vows.” Authorities were stunned by the scope of the operations, which stretched from Boston to South Carolina to California. But marriage fraud remains a treacherous path of least resistance. The waiting period for US citizenship is cut by more than half for marriage-visa beneficiaries.
Fox Forum is on Twitter. Follow us @fxnopinion.
Michelle Malkin is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate. Her wide-ranging and news-breaking commentary has been honored by several national organizations.