Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, a 22 year old student from Bangladesh, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his attempt to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank building in New York City nearly 1 year ago. His plot was thwarted by undercover agents who sold Nafis 1,000 pounds of dummy explosives.
Nafis came to the United States on a student visa and attended school at a state university in Missouri, though he had previously had contact with Al Qaeda, according to reports. The State Department, then under the direction of Secretary Hillary Clinton, issued the visa because Nafis was not one of the 39 million records on file of individuals flagged for denial.
Nafis attended school in Missouri to study cyber security for less than one year and requested transfer to a school in New York, supposedly to live near family, his parents said in interviews at the time of the attempted terror plot and subsequent arrest.
Nafis is just one of the young men in the United States on student visas who have been involved with terror attacks in recent years. The State Department also failed to flag the so-called “underwear bomber” in 2009 who attempted to blow up a commercial airplane full of passengers. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab passed the State Department’s records test despite his Nigerian parents’ warnings to U.S. officials that their son was dangerous.
Most recently, the northeastern U.S. has experienced the Boston Marathon bombings, allegedly carried out by Chechen students, and a series of odd events, one involving foreign students from Signapore, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Just weeks after the marathon attack, 7 chemical engineering students were detained at the Quabbin Water Reserve that provides clean water to the greater Boston area. Ten days later, padlocks were cut at the aqueducts that deliver drinking water to Boston and surrounding towns.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security ordered new student visa reviews as a result of the missteps at the State Department in vetting the Boston Marathon bombers prior to their approvals to study in the U.S. With Secretary Clinton no longer at the top of the State Department investigation, no further news has been reported on the progress of the new reviews.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein released a statement in July 2012 regarding student visas, reminding the nation of the “students” who attacked on September 11, 2001.
“In late 2000, a foreign student was allowed to enter the United States on a student visa but never attended classes. In 2001, additional foreign travelers were allowed to re-enter the country based on plans to attend a flight school that wasn’t certified to accept foreign students. Those individuals later hijacked four U.S. airliners, killing thousands of Americans. Yet more than a decade later, this GAO report makes it clear that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement still has no process in place to monitor whether foreign students are actually enrolled in school or attending classes, or even whether the schools they claim to attend are legitimate…”
“With more than 850,000 foreign students enrolled in 10,000 U.S. schools at the beginning of this year, it’s clear that monitoring activities of students in this country on visas and shutting down sham schools that serve as fronts for criminal activity are questions of national security.”
Apparently, not much has been done to fix the system as of August 2013.