Like India, the US too is now grappling with the visa issue after the latest attempt by a suspected al-Qaeda operative to blow up a plane over US airspace.
While the matter of issuing a visa came under scanner in India after the recent arrest of David Coleman Headley, the terror suspect charged with involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the similar problem knocked the US door after a failed bid to blow up a plane in Detroit.
Suspected al-Qaeda operative and Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested after he failed in his bid to destroy Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day with over 270 people on board.
And then came an argument that how come a person whose father raised concerns about his son in Nigeria was issued the visa.
The officials in both the countries, however, argue that there was no violation of law. But media and experts wonder as to how terrorists took advantage of the system and authorities failed to detect it in time.
In the case of David Headley, who is now languishing in a US jail, experts question the manner in which visa was issued against such an individual. To this, Indian officials contend that at the time when his visa application was processed there was no information about the person’s background.
While the 26/11 terror attack killed over 170 people, nearly 300 innocent people had a miraculous escape on December 25 when Abdulmutallab failed in his attempt to ignite an explosive, which he managed to sneak inside the plane.
“How this individual who had been alerted to the authorities, the US Embassy, about his perhaps Islamic leaning to some radicalization, was still able to have a visa, that visa not revoked and able to get on a US aircraft,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was asked by a reporter.
To this, Napolitano replied: “Well, he was issued a visa for the US in June of 2008, and those are questions that we’re asking ourselves. What is it that needs to connect in that process that maybe wasn’t connected? What -- needs to be changed? What needs to be improved? We have to work the problem, and that’s what we’re doing.”
“(We are) Looking at the fact that he had a pre-existing visa to enter the US. Looking at the fact that he had -- was on the TIDE list,” she said.
There’s a generic list of anybody whose name pops up in any way connected to something with the word “terrorism” associated with it; has over half a million names on it,” the Homeland Security secretary said.