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9/11 Working-level Employee

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS

Office of Inspector General

Memorandum of Conversation

Issuance of NIVs to 9/11/01 Embassy Abu Dhabi 1/19/03


Hijackers
Subject Office Date

Bert Krieg and Doug Ellice


UJJictal Inspector

1. For the record, please tell me your name, present rank and position.
2. Were you the officer (or consular associate) who issued a nonimmigrant visa to (name of applicant) on (date) at
(name of post)?
3. Is this a copy of his application?
If no application is available, then why is it not available?
4. Does his application indicate whether the CLASS lookout system procedure was followed in this case?
5. Did you check the CLASS lookout system for his name?
6. How do you know that the lookout system was actually checked?
7. What were the results of your check?
8. Did you interview this individual prior to issuing the visa?
9. If not, why not?
10. What was the policy at post regarding personal appearance waivers?
11. How were you informed of this policy? In writing? Orally? By whom?
12. Were you personally given any instructions by your supervisors or superiors about asking applicants to appear
in person for an interview?
13. Did a travel agency submit the case?
14. If so, what was the policy at post regarding travel agency procedures?
15. How were you informed of this policy? In writing? Orally? By whom?
16. Would a personal interview of this applicant have helped you decide his eligibility for a visa, and why?
17. If you interviewed this individual, what details can you recall?
18. Did he present any documents in support of his application?
19. If so, can you recall any details of the documents that were presented?
20. What specific elements obtained from the interview or the application convinced you that this applicant was
entitled to a visa?
21. Did you have sufficient time to conduct the interview or review the application to your satisfaction? If not, how
much time would you have preferred?
22. If there were sufficient consular officers at post to conduct personal interviews of every visa applicant, would
there have been sufficient interview windows, work space and support staff?
23. What other elements would have helped you make a better decision regarding the applicant's eligibility for a
visa and why?
24. Did your superiors ever discuss the post's NTV refusal rates in general with you?
25. Did your superiors ever counsel you to raise or lower your own refusal rate?
26. Did you or anyone in the consular section conduct NTV return validation studies? If not, why not?
27. How well did you speak and read Arabic?
28. Did the Department train you in this language?
29. Do you consider that the training you received in the Department to carry out your visa adjudication
responsibilities was adequate?

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9/11 Working-level Employee

IV SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED


\. If not, what additional training would have enabled you to do a better job?
\. What other comments would you like to make at this time regarding this visa case?

\
\n the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he issued a visitor visa on June 18,2001, to Fayez
; \, one of the 19 terrorist hijackers. I I identified a copy of the visa
i \, noting that the original copy this document was subsequently taken by the FBI.
\h the application did not contain an occupation and was incomplete in other responses,
\ I stated that this was not significant since the UAE looked after the financial needs of
its nationals. The visa issuing process included a mandatory CLASS name check, which
revealed no record pertaining to Banihammad. He was not interviewed because at that time
\E nationals were eligible to submit their visa applications to a consular FSN at post — a so-
called drop box procedure ~ who screened them for completeness. An American consular
officer then adjudicated each paper case and normally issued the visa.

\y all U.A.E. nationals were the beneficiaries of personal appearance waivers. U.A.E. was
applying for (and considered to have de facto) Visa Waiver Program status. The post believed
\t the tl. A.E. was not accepted into the program simply because it was unwilling to
\, and therefore didn't meet formal requirements. Since the U.A.E. 'was (and remains)
\ real Svelfare state, it citizens presented virtually no overstay problems for the U.S., regularly
and consistently returning home. As a result, the post's main concern with issuing visas was to
efficiently handle the large volume of applications and thereby facilitate the travel of Emiratis to
the U.S. I """] was informed of this policy orally by the D.C.M., Deborah Jones, a
former consular officer. As his predecessor had already departed for Riyadh, there was no
overlap. Ambassador Theodore Kattouf was never involved in any visa policy issues or cases.
\y superiors never discussed visa refusal rates. The embassy's goal in the visa process was to
efficiently facilitate issuing visas to travelling Emiratis and therefore waived personal
\s extensively. Travel agencies were not used to initiate visa applications.

| [does not believe that a personal interview of Fayez Banihammad would have
helped him decide Baniharnrnad's eligibility for a visa. This individual was an anomaly, and
interviews then never focused on the possibility of ineligible terrorist or criminal applicants.
That applicant presented only his U.A.E. passport which seemed to be perfectly valid, and the
post's policy was to issue a visa under those circumstances. Furthermore, there was the practical
consideration that the post had neither the staff nor equipped, secure work space to interview all
Emirati visa applicants; only four interview windows were available. The embassy concentrated
its small workforce on the more difficult third country national cases. Most of the latter
applicants were obliged to queudi up outside the embassy in temperatures that reached 140
degrees Fahrenheit and 100 percent humidity during the six month summer.

The limited revalidation studies conducted at Dubai pertained only to third country nationals,
never for host country nationals, and! inever heard of Emiratis wanting to emigrate
to the U.S. It was the other way around -- American wives of Emiratis immigrated into the
U.A.E. Incidentally, FBI records were not available to the post at that time.

I jdoes not speak Arabic, and as post has no language-designated positions, he and the
other American visa adjudicators were obliged to use FSNs as translators. He considers that his

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9/11 Working-level Employee

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FSI training was just adequate to ineet the needs of his position, especially since had just come
from a similar position id "\ large visa processing post. He did not benefit from an
:essor.\
overlap with his predecessor,! ~1 although \t extensive notes behind. The
post was not visited by a regional consular officer at that time I I believes that FSI
needs to offer more training specifically focused on visa adjudicator and consular needs,
especially language and interviewing skills. Much more information on proscribed organizations
needs to be available to visa adjudicators, "who can not read the minds of visa applicants."

I bummed up his review of the Banihammad case: "Sometimes I wonder, what if he


applied again today?) \d that he receives notices from the Department that they have revoked

nonimmigrant visas of particular Emiratis, but he never knows why. "The people being revoked
look a lot like the people I'm still issuing. Is there something we should be told?"

In addition to the information above pertaining to Fayez Banihammad, | [expressed


the following points. New U.A.E. passports are of excellent quality and are secure documents,

_/The post is also experiencing a high level of


frustration caused by slow and unclear SAO responses - the Department currently is providing
very little background or reasoning for these individual cases.

9/11 Law Enforcement


Sensitive

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