We’ve learned nothing: Same loopholes that allowed seven of the Sept 11 terrorists to overstay visas still exists


USA- On this past weekend, where we commemorated the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks committed upon the United States by fundamentalist Islamic extremists, it’s important to understand how that could happen in the first place and understand how the current lax immigration system in the United States, among screwed up priorities in national defense, could lead to another such attack…or worse.

Breitbart News reported that of the 19 Islamic terrorists who hijacked four commercial aircraft on September 11, 2001, over one-third had overstayed their visas utilizing a loophole that remains wide open 20 years later.

The sheer incompetence of the U.S. immigration system initially cost over 3,000 Americans their lives, and residual illnesses from the World Trade Center rescue and recovery efforts cost around 4,000 more due to 9/11-related illnesses, including cancer.

Initially, all 19 terrorists arrived in the U.S. legally, with three securing tourist visas while three obtained business and student visas.

However, seven out of the 19 terrorists had either overstayed their visas just before or at the time of the attacks. U.S. immigration law at the time required their detainment and potential deportation, however none of that was done. The radical Islamic terrorists who overstayed their visas were:

  • Hani Hassan Hanjour of Saudi Arabia
  • Nawaf al-Hamzi of Saudi Arabia
  • Mohammed Atta of Egypt
  • Satam al-Suqami of Saudi Arabia
  • Waleed al-Shehri of Saudi Arabia
  • Marwan al-Shehhi of the United Arab Emirates
  • Ahmed al-Ghamdi of Saudi Arabia

One person who is concerned about the apparent lack of concern by Washington, DC politicians who still have not corrected the holes in the system is Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), who complains DC’s ruling class has still not learned the lessons emanating from the September 11 attacks.

“Twenty years ago, President George W. Bush ignored warnings about the threat of a terrorist attack on our soil, and the dangers posed by lax immigration and border enforcement and instead focused his efforts on providing amnesty to millions of illegal aliens,” Stein said.

Continuing, Stein said:

“Meanwhile, President Biden has eviscerated effective border enforcement policies he inherited when he took office and halted immigration enforcement in the interior of the country, providing newly emboldened global terrorist networks even greater opportunities to strike the United States.”

Three years after the September 11 attacks, the 9/11 Commission released a report in which they detailed the scale and scope of the terrorist attacks, and suggested ways in which the lax US immigration system enabled the 19 terrorists to enter and remain in the country.

In their report, the Commission detailed that advisers under then-President Bill Clinton had requested a number of reforms be implemented, however they never were in the late 1990s and early 2000, which ended up costing thousands of Americans their lives in the initial attacks and thousands more in the war on terror that resulted from them.

Under a “What to Do?” portion of their report, the 9/11 Commission recommended the implementation of a biometric entry/exit system which would track every foreign national entering and leaving the United States.

The commission wrote:

The Department of Homeland Security…should complete, as quickly as possible, a biometric entry-exit screening system…No one can hide his or her debt by acquiring a credit card with a slightly different name. Yet today, a terrorist can defeat the link to electronic records by tossing away an old passport and slightly altering the name in the new one.

One person who benefited from the lack of a biometric entry system prior to the 9/11 attacks? The mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was given an approved visa because he used an alias just weeks before the attacks.

That same loophole remains in place and is readily used by hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals, who fail to leave the U.S. after their visas. For example, in FY 2019 (as Law Enforcement Today recently reported) 676,500 foreign nationals became illegal aliens when they overstayed their visas to remain in the U.S.

For our previous report on that, we invite you to:


On this the 20th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history (no, it isn’t January 6), it is important to recognize exactly what happened on that day and how we ended up having 19 foreign terrorists commandeer four passenger airplanes and change our country in a way we thought was forever.

In a previous report filed by Law Enforcement Today, obtaining figures from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), we discovered that over 700,000 foreigners with expired visas remained at large in the country. In fact, the GAO showed that there were 702,000 overstays in 2017.

We decided to look into it and see if things had improved in the four years since. According to the latest figures available, for FY 2019 in the GAO table we found there were 676,422 overstays.

By way of explanation, according to the GAO Executive Summary, “an overstay is a nonimmigrant lawfully admitted to the United States for an authorized period but remained in the United States beyond his or her authorized period of admission.”

There are two different types of overstays identified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

  • Individuals for whom no departure was recorded (Suspected In-Country Overstays), and 2) individuals whose departure was recorded after their authorized period of admission expired (Out-of-Country Overstays).

So what do these numbers mean? Our immigration system is still full of holes, even 20 years after foreign terrorists exploited our system to take over four aircraft, have two take out the World Trade Center towers, one crash into the Pentagon, and one but for the bravery of the passengers that was likely headed for the US Capitol that crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Keep in mind, that 676,422 are people who came here on legal visas. That does not include those who cross the border illegally. During the Trump administration, we at least had that number somewhat under control.

Since Biden opened the borders in January, it is truly unknown how many illegal aliens have crossed the border. It is estimated that the number could top one million, with the New York Post reporting in July that there had already been over one million attempts in just the first seven months of the year.

Every month since Biden took office, the number of illegal border crossings have increased, with 212,672 apprehensions of illegal crossers in July.

When looking at the GAO numbers for visa overstays, it is important to look at the overstay rates, which are broken down by country. Just for informational purposes, let’s look at some of the countries which could be of concern:

  • Afghanistan- 11.57%
  • Iran- 17.25%
  • Libya- 20.30%
  • Sudan- 20.08%
  • Yemen- 15.58%

The above rates are the in-country overstay rates and is for non-immigrants admitted for business or pleasure.

And what of non-immigrant student and exchange visitors overstay rates?

  • Afghanistan- 14.8%
  • Libya- 47.05%
  • Somalia- 15.63%
  • Sudan- 17.22%
  • Yemen- 28.57%

All of this has become even more serious in the past month, as Afghan “refugees,” many of them who have been unvetted or who have little if any identification, have been admitted to the country.

A number of elected officials (Republicans only) have expressed concern about the lax process of admitting Afghans into the U.S. While some bad actors have been caught at for example Ramstein Air Base in Germany, it is reasonable to assume some have not.

What is the lesson from all of this? The United States, which remembers the nearly 3,000 Americans who died on 9/11 and the hundreds of first responders in New York City who have died of 9/11 illness since then (FDNY firefighters, NYPD and Port Authority police officers, and federal agents), we haven’t learned a damn thing.

We are as vulnerable or even more so than we were on that fateful Tuesday morning in September 2001.

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In case you missed it, Biden thinks he can “negotiate” with the same people who took down the World Trade Center, attacked the Pentagon, and brought down Flight 93. For more on that, we invite you to:


The following contains editorial content which is the opinion of the author, a current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

Remember—the Biden administration thinks they can “negotiate” with these people for the release of the remaining American hostages being held hostage in Afghanistan.

Last week, after embarrassing the United States on the world stage by defeating what is supposed to be the strongest military power in the world, the Taliban took to Twitter (yeah, the same one that banned President Trump) and blamed the United States for the deadly 9/11 plane hijackings, The Sun reported.

This coming Saturday is of course the 20th anniversary of the deadly terrorist attacks which took down both buildings of the World Trade Center and caused extensive damage to the Pentagon in Alexandria, Virginia.

The terrorists were foiled when passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 became aware of the previous hijackings and thwarted the terrorists, with the Boeing 767 crashing into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

In the video, the third-world Neanderthals blamed the United States for the 20-year “war,” claiming “The Muslim nation of Afghanistan was forced to stand up against terrorist America and its allies to cleanse its soil of their filthy existence.”

The video, lasting 40 minutes, and entitled “Victorious Force 3” celebrates the Taliban’s “martyrdom-seeking” suicide bombers while accusing the United States of “cruelty and atrocities.”

To further rub salt into America’s wounds after Biden’s whimpering surrender, the video then gloats while claiming the “invaders are flowing from Afghanistan,” while touting its newly advanced military, courtesy of the Biden administration, as well as its “jihadi and martyrdom-seeking force,” who are “proud to make any sacrifice to defend its faith land and independence.”

In addressing the September 11, 2001, attacks, the propaganda piece makes the absurd claim that the “attacks were the result of the United States’ policy of aggression against the Muslim world,” and claims that Afghanistan was not involved in the attacks.

Also featured in the video were squads of marching soldiers which the narrator alleges will “destroy enemy security personnel and patrols in their [newly acquired] laser precision strikes.”

The video also showed archived footage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with the Taliban’s newly acquired national RTA Pashto television station  captioning the Twitter vide “Conqueror Force.”

The video was published after a spokesman for the Taliban claimed there was “no proof” that Osama bin Laden was involved in the hijackings.

In an interview with NBC News last week, Zabiullah Mujahid pledged not to allow al Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base of operations, telling the network, “When Osama bin Laden became an issue for the Americans, he was in Afghanistan.

“Although there was no proof he was involved. Now we have given promises that Afghan soil won’t be used against anyone.” [emphasis added]

Bin Laden was harbored by the Taliban in Afghanistan after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Then President George W. Bush demanded the Taliban hand over the terror mastermind and end the terrorist training camps, however they refused. That brought the U.S. into Afghanistan, and this was the beginning of a 20-year engagement.

That 20-year engagement reached an embarrassing end last week as the Biden administration pulled remaining U.S. troops out of the country in a botched exit from the country, which resulted in thirteen American service members being killed and nearly two dozen injured. There were over 150 casualties among the Afghan people.

Perhaps the most humiliating aspect of the U.S. exit from Afghanistan is that nearly $90 billion in American military weapons and aircraft was left behind, including mine-resistant transport vehicles, drones, Blackhawk helicopters, C-130 aircraft, 600,000 military-grade firearms and more. In the ultimate show of defiance, the Taliban held a military parade featuring the U.S.-made military gear Biden abandoned in the country.

The September 11 Memorial in New York City describes the 9/11 terrorist attacks:

“The attacks killed 2,977 people from 93 nations; 2,753 people were killed in New York; 184 people were killed at the Pentagon; and 40 people were killed on Flight 93.

“Al-Qaeda was based in Afghanistan. They operated training camps there, and openly lived in the country with the support of the Taliban, an Islamist group that ruled the country.”

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In case you missed it, we recently reported on how the 9/11 terrorists got into the U.S. It’s a fascinating read. 


USA- After the Biden administration’s utter failure to leave Afghanistan in anything resembling a competent, logical manner, it’s important to revisit the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history (not counting January 6 for the “insurrection” crowd).

As anyone who hasn’t been asleep for the past 20 years (or sitting in gender studies classes at Smith College) knows, those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001, didn’t do so from some foreign land.

Those attacks were launched from Boston, Washington, DC, and finally Newark, N.J.

The al Qaeda terrorists who took down the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York departed Boston on American-flagged passenger jets—one from American Airlines, the other from United Airlines.

The jetliner that crashed into the Pentagon left from Dulles International Airport just outside of our nation’s capital. Finally, United Flight 93—the plane that crashed in a field in Shanksville, PA.—departed from Newark.

All four flights were headed to the west coast of the United States—three to Los Angeles and one to San Francisco.

After those attacks, the United States Congress created a commission to look into the intelligence and other failures that led to the attacks, which we were told came as a surprise to the White House, the Pentagon, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and other government officials.

As part of the 9/11 Commission, another committee consisting of staff members published a report called “9/11 and Terrorist Travel.”

As reported in Town Hall, the beginning of the report stated the following:

“It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country.”


In a preface to the report, it begins with, in part that the committee “endeavor(s) to dispel the myth that their entry into the United States was ‘clean and legal.’ It was not.”

It continued:

“Three hijackers carried passports with indicators of Islamic extremism linked to al Qaeda; two others carried passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner,” the report said.

“It is likely that several more hijackers carried passports with similar fraudulent manipulation. Two hijackers lied on their visa applications. Once in the United States, two hijackers violated the terms of their visas.

One overstayed his visa. And all but one obtained some form of state identification. We know that six of the hijackers used these state issued identifications to check in for their flights on September 11. Three of them were fraudulently obtained.”

The commission determined that over two dozen terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda tried to enter the United States, with a majority of them succeeding.

“Twenty-six al Qaeda terrorist conspirators—eighteen Saudis, two Emiratis, one Egyptian, one Lebanese, one Moroccan, one Pakistani and two Yemenis—sought to enter the United States and carry out a suicide mission,” the commission’s staff report read.

“The first of them began to acquire the means to enter two years and five months before the 9/11 attack.”

Continuing, the report read:

“The 19 hijackers applied for 23 visas and obtained 22. Five other conspirators were denied U.S. visas. Two more obtained visas but did not participate in the attack for various reasons.”

Every one of the terrorists had in their possession when they applied for visas to enter the United States brand new passports. The report noted this was likely done in order to mask travel to Afghanistan that we “recorded in their old ones.”

What else was a common denominator? The four terrorists who actually piloted the doomed aircraft were able to enter and leave, then re-enter the United States numerous times.

“The four pilots passed through immigration and customs inspections a total of 17 times from May 29, 2000, to August 5, 2001,” the report read.

The pilot of United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania as it made its way back toward Washington, D.C. ostensibly to the U.S. Capitol was piloted by Ziad Jarrah. The report noted that Jarrah “was the most frequent border crosser, entering the United States seven times.”

In this case, the seventh time was the “charm” because had Jarrah been prevented from entering the U.S. the seventh time, he would not have been flying Flight 93.

The two terrorists who flew jets into the Twin Towers, Mohammed Atta on AA Flight 11 and Marwan al Shehhi on UAL Flight 175 “came in three times each, entering for the last time on May 2, and July 19, 2001, respectively.”

Finally, Hani Hanjour, who crashed AA Flight 77 into the Pentagon made repeated journeys back and forth to the United States in the 1990s, finally coming back as a student—who never attended school—in 2000.

The report noted that Hanjour was the only terrorist on 9/11 who entered the US on an academic visa, arriving on December 8, 2000, the report read:

“He had already attended both English and flight training schools in the United States during three stays in the 1990s. Hanjour was also the only pilot who already had a commercial pilot’s license prior to entry, having acquired it in 1999 in Arizona.”

The report continued:

“Hanjour did not attend school after entering on a student visa in December 2000, thereby violating his immigration status and making him deportable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(B),” read the report.

In typical U.S. immigration fashion, for whatever reason, Hanjour was never deported.

The report concluded that “all of the hijackers violated some aspect of U.S. immigration law.”

In the nearly 20 years since September 11, 2001, the federal government either by design or more likely by luck has been able to prevent another 9/11 style terrorist attack.

In light of recent events in Afghanistan, the possibility…no the probability that bad actors will take advantage is extremely high.

Thousands of terrorist suspects in Afghanistan have been freed from jail by the Taliban, leaving them free to jump on planes and fly to the U.S. If for some reason they are intercepted, all they have to do is find their way to Mexico and they can cross the southern border at will.

The fact of the matter is, the 9/11 attacks showed a stunning disregard for our national sovereignty, a situation that has gotten much worse since January 20, 2021, under Biden.

Some of the holes found in the 9/11 investigation reports were repaired, yet here we are with a porous southern border and with a lax vetting process for Afghans seeking endangered status to enter our country.

If we get hit again, this is directly and squarely on Democrats and their feckless leader, Joe Biden. We apparently learned nothing from what was truly the worst terrorist attack on our country. 

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In 2019 on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Law Enforcement Today reported on failures of our border control system which in part led to 9/11. In case you missed it, we invite you to:


18 years ago today, 19 men hijacked 4 planes and orchestrated one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. Four of those terrorists came to the US on visas and then stayed after the expiration.

There was no accurate method for tracking overstays or their whereabouts. Nearly two decades after terrorists exploited the U.S. government’s inadequate, more than 700,000 foreigners with expired visas remain at large in the country.

The latest government figures, as reported by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), show 702,000 overstays in 2017.

These disturbing stats were released just weeks after a Portuguese man with an expired visa got charged with the gruesome kidnap and murder of a young woman whose body was found bound in a suitcase on a Connecticut street.

The 24-year-old New York woman with reported depression and anxiety issues was identified by a medical examiner as the person whose body—bound at the hands and feet—was discovered stuffed into a large red suitcase ditched on a roadside in an affluent Connecticut town.

New York woman
Valerie Reyes, 24, of New Rochelle, was identified as the body found in a suitcase in Greenwich, Conn., police said. (NYPD)


Valerie Reyes, of New Rochelle, N.Y., was reported missing Jan. 30, a day after she was last seen.  

Reyes’ cause of death wasn’t immediately clear; but the same day officers made the gruesome suitcase discovery, Greenwich Police Department Captain Robert Berry said authorities were investigating the death as a homicide.

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It’s worth noting that the entire state of Connecticut is a sanctuary state. Back in 2013 the state enacted a measure prohibiting local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities by, among other things, ignoring federal detainers for migrants not here legally who were arrested after committing certain crimes.

It has been almost 18 years since that horrific event and the government still hasn’t found a way to accurately and adequately track visa over stayers. According to a Judicial Watch report, they obtained Department of Homeland Security (DHS) figures in 2015 showing that 527,127 foreigners with expired visas remained in the country.

We've learned nothing: Same loopholes that allowed seven of the Sept 11 terrorists to overstay visas still exists
(Flicker – 9/11 Photos)


Thousands of those are from nations with links to terrorism. Per that report, the breakdown is: 1,435 from Pakistan, 681 from Iraq, 564 from Iran, 440 from Syria, 219 from Yemen, 219 from Afghanistan and 56 from Libya.

Following the 9/11 attack, Congress created the U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology system to track the entry and exit of foreign nationals by using electronically scanned fingerprints and photographs. Five years and $1 billion later, it still has serious flaws.

The GAO has since published a report that said nearly half of the nation’s immigrants who are no longer here legally, entered the U.S. legally and overstayed their visas undetected.

As stated by Judicial Watch:

In the years that followed the government did little to improve what has developed into a dire national security disaster.

In 2011 yet another federal audit confirmed that the U.S. had lost track of millions who overstayed their visas and two years later the crisis intensified when DHS lost track of 266 dangerous foreigners with expired visas.

The government determined that they “could pose a national security or public safety concerns,” according to the director of Homeland Security and Justice at the GAO.

You read the correctly. The Department of Homeland Security lost track of 266 dangerous immigrants with expired visas.

The latest GAO report shows that about 52.7 million nonimmigrant admissions to the U.S. through air or sea ports of entry were supposed to depart in fiscal year 2017.

 Part of the problem is that DHS relies on third-party departure data. This includes commercial carrier passenger manifests. In other words, the government is depending on airlines and cruise ships to help it enforce visa violations.

Now, to make matters worse, we have presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren who plan to decriminalize improper border crossings and visa overstays.

We've learned nothing: Same loopholes that allowed seven of the Sept 11 terrorists to overstay visas still exists
Liz Warren called the entire criminal justice system racist ‘from front to back.’ (Wikipedia Commons)


She’s introduced her plan to decriminalize immigration, welcome more refugees and focus enforcement on only security threats. Her open borders approach is in stark contrast to the stance taken by the Trump administration.

Warren, a Massachusetts senator, said the Trump administration’s harsh treatment of migrants, to include separating undocumented children and parents at the border, is based on a law known as Section 1325.

It allows for criminal penalties for illegally entering the U.S. or entering legally and overstaying a visa. Warren wants to repeal the provision and indicated that she would use executive power to reduce its enforcement as president. 

“We should repeal this criminal prohibition to prevent future abuse,” Warren wrote in a Medium.com post.

She vowed that as president she would:

“immediately issue guidance to end criminal prosecutions for simple administrative immigration violations” and “refocus our limited resources on actual criminals and real threats.”

So, to translate: Warren wants to allow anyone who wants to walk into this nation to do so with no consequences. She wants to give free reign to anyone and everyone. Given that she is in favor of free healthcare for those not here legally, her plan could get extremely expensive.

This plan came in conjunction with President Trump’s announcement that he will take executive action on the 2020 U.S. Census to include a citizenship question in the population count.

There are also credible indications that mass arrests of thousands of undocumented people are expected to begin Sunday, assuming sanctuary proponents don’t tip them all off first.

We've learned nothing: Same loopholes that allowed seven of the Sept 11 terrorists to overstay visas still exists

Warren, like most of other Democratic hopefuls, refuses to grasp the concept that making an illegal action legal doesn’t make the inherent problems go away. 

Among the other aspects that she cannot grasp, the senator is just one of the crowd when it comes to accusing the current administration of atrocities that were actually perpetrated in the Obama years.

Obama’s immigration shortcomings notwithstanding, Warren said she would create a Justice Department task force to investigate what she referred to as criminal abuses of immigrants by Trump administration officials.

An excerpt from Bloomberg News states:

“In his 2016 campaign, Trump mobilized voters with an anti-immigration message focused on building a wall and removing undocumented people, successfully capitalizing on grievances about demographic and cultural changes that have made the U.S. more diverse. Warren’s plan is sure to amplify the president’s claim that Democrats are embracing an “open borders” immigration policy — most of her rivals have not gone as far.”

Warren’s plan is merely political pandering. It is aimed at a growing pro-immigration constituency in the Democratic Party, the Latino community specifically.

“Immigrants have always been a vital source of American strength. They grow our economy and make our communities richer and more diverse. They are our neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends,” Warren wrote. “President Trump sees things differently. He’s advanced a policy of cruelty and division that demonizes immigrants.” 

Warren is calling for the outlawing of private detention facilities and limiting detentions to people who pose a security or flight risk, who could be tracked and monitored with technology. She wants to end ‘warrantless’ arrests and instead focus on smuggling, trafficking and spotting counterfeit products.

So, Warren’s plan does not fix the issues with the current issues of tracking visa overstays, it decriminalizes them. Not only will there be zero incentive under her plan for migrants to come into the country, there will be no incentive for them to remain on the abiding side of the law once they are here.

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