Anorak News | US Immigration Afraid of British Pakistanis

US Immigration Afraid of British Pakistanis

by | 2nd, May 2007

checkin360.jpgBRITISH holidaymakers who complain about zealous immigration procedures in America could soon have a lot more to moan about.

If they thought a quick finger printing and a photograph was inconvenient, what will they make of having to apply for a visa?The New York Times devotes a good portion of its front page today to American fears that under current regulations Britain’s estimated 800,000 citizens of Pakistani origin can enter the USA under the visa waiver program.

That represents something of a threat to the US Department of Homeland Security, especially in light of the July 2005 London bombings and the foiled fertilizer bomb plot, both of which were planned almost exclusively by British-born terrorists.

The New York Times says America’s homeland security chief Michael Chertoff has contacted the British government to suggest either revoking the UK’s inclusion in the visa waiver program or requiring Britons of Pakistani origin to apply for a visa.

Naturally, neither of the options appealed to the UK government, which responded with the suggestion that instead the US immediately deports anyone who fails screening at an American airport. (A solution that seems unlikely to reassure the Americans.)

Britain in turn looked to its Pakistani counterparts for reassurance that they would do more to monitor the estimated 400,000 trips made by British citizens to Pakistan each year for signs of the very small number whose purpose is to be schooled in global terrorism.

Meanwhile, MI5 may want to take a quick look at Stephen Schwartz’s op-ed in the New York Post which shows how the ‘Pakistan connection’ led directly to a confession.

Schwartz, the executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism (yeah, we have qualms about the “center” too), points out that a key witness in the prosecution of the fertilizer plotters was New York-based radical Mohammed Junaid Babar.

According to Schwart, the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force picked up Babar after they came across his name during an investigation into a threat to bomb New York landmarks. As soon as they learned that Babar had visited Pakistan they brought him in for questioning and a confession followed shortly after.

While it’s unfair to expect the British security services to foil every threat, you have to wonder whether MI5 could have done more to scrutinize the July 7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer when they showed up in 2004 during the investigation into the fertilizer bomb plot. According to the BBC, Khan and Khyam met five times, including once in Pakistan:

Mohammad Sidique Khan travelled to Pakistan in July 2003 with another man to deliver funds raised in the UK for jihadi groups, such as Kashmiri fighters or the Taleban. He was sent by a Luton-based extremist – and met at the other end by another British man.

Khyam was then organising a paramilitary training camp and asked Khan to join them.

At the secret camp high in the mountains of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, the later London bomber fired assault rifles, light machine guns and rocket launchers. Others in the party received explosives training.

If MI5 had checked Khan’s recent movements they would have seen that he had recently visited Pakistan. And if they did check and see that he had recently been there, why didn’t they question him?

Posted: 2nd, May 2007 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink