Visa Program for Religious Workers Gave Cover to Terrorists, Complaint Says. (People & Events)
Political radicals linked to extremist Muslim groups have exploited a federal program aimed at easing the entry of "religious workers" to the United States to slip potential terrorists into the country, according to a recent legal complaint.
A complaint from the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York, which was unsealed in February, asserts that a Muslim religious leader, Mohammed Khalil, brought more than 200 individuals into the country claiming they were religious workers. Khalil allegedly prepared fake documents for the people, claiming they were experts in the Koran or the Arabic language. He charged $8,000 apiece for obtaining the visas.
Khalil, who became a U.S. citizen in 1987, is alleged to have pledged support to Osama bin Laden in a secretly taped conversation and expressed his desire to see another terrorist attack on the country.
Khalil was able to run the scheme thanks to a federal law that critics say unfairly singles out self-proclaimed religious workers for special treatment in visa applications. In 1990, Congress created the Religious Worker Visa, often called the "R" visa, and ordered the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to ease the process for allowing religious workers into the country. …