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9/11 Working-level Employee

I SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

\ OF STATE
f, UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY

Office of Inspector General

1 \m of Conversation

I Visas for the 9/11 Hijackers Foreign Service Institute 2/6/03


I \ Office Date

Bert Krieg and Kevin Hrvnkow

Official Inspector

Mr. Krieg stated that the purpose of the interview was to respond to a congressional request that
OIG report on visa issuance to 9/11 hijackers. He added that OIG will protect the identities of
the adjudicators and that OIG's response will not single out specific individuals.

I I read the questions for the visa adjudicators given to her and answered them as
follows.

1. For the record, please tell me your name, present rank and position.

2. Were you the officer (or consular associate) who issued nonimmigrant visas to (names of
applicants) on (dates) at (name of post)?

I [examined the computerized visa files of Satam Al Suqami who was issued an NTV
on Nov. 21, 2000 at Riyadh.

Yes, this appears to be a copy of his application.

3. Is this a copy of the application?

Yes.

If no application is available, then why is it not available?

N/A

4. Did you check the CLASS lookout system for his name, and what were the results?

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We always had to check CLASS to issue or refuse a visa. There were no "hits" or derogatory
information in his case. In identifying terrorists and criminals we depended on CLASS,
information from other agencies at post, and the Visa Viper (terrorist lookout) Program.

5. Did you interview this individual prior to issuing the visa?

Yes. I noted from Al Suqami's visa application that he was a dealer, which is a Saudi
euphemism for businessman. There was nothing unusual about him. He was one of many
Saudis whose family was well off. Younger Saudis wanted to experience nightlife in New York
and the U.S.; there was none, no entertainment, in Riyadh.

6. If not, why not?

N/A

7. What was the policy at post regarding personal appearance waivers?

I tried to interview as many as possible, but normally I did not have time to interview that many
applicants. Personal appearances were the exception at Riyadh. We didn't have the tune to
interview many applicants.

8. How were you informed of this policy? In writing? Orally? By whom?

It was just my general understanding and knowledge.

9. Were you personally given any instructions by your supervisors or superiors about asking
applicants to appear in person for an interview?

No.

10. Did a travel agency submit the case?

No.

11. If so, what was the policy at post regarding travel agency procedures?

We didn't use travel agents at that time.

12. How were you informed of this policy? In writing? Orally? By whom?

I helped develop the Visas Express program later in 2001, and even then we never permitted
travel agents to influence the issuance of visas. Their job was to provide the data and help fill
out visa applications.

13. Would a personal interview of this applicant have helped you decide his eligibility for a visa,
and why?

I interviewed him.

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14. If you interviewed this individual, what details can you recall?

I do recall this specific case - however, he was just another young Saudi with a profile like any
other - nothing remarkable about him. I have a photographic memory, and I remember his
photo. If I had to do it again under the same circumstances, I would issue him another visa.

The Saudis, Bahrain and the U.A.E. all could have been Visa waiver countries because of their
low visa refusal rates, but probably because the were Middle East countries they were not
included. These nationals were also cleared by the INS at ports of entry in the U.S.

15. Did he present any documents in support of his application?

He had a passport and all the right paperwork.

16. If so, can you recall any details of the documents that were presented?

No. I can't recall anything unusual.

17. What specific elements obtained from the interview or the application convinced you that
this applicant was entitled to a visa?

There was nothing negative. His story made sense, like so many others. There was nothing
remarkable about him.

18. 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?

Yes, I think I had plenty of time.

19. 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?

The assumption was that we didn't need to interview everyone. If we had more time, more might
have been interviewed. But then we would not have had enough interview windows or other
support. Everything at that time was geared towards getting visas out quicker and in a customer
friendly way. I arrived early and stayed late at the embassy, from 7 am to 9 pm and later.

20. What other elements would have helped you make a better decision regarding the applicant's
eligibility for a visa and why?

No really, given our visa policy at that time.

21. Did your superiors ever discuss the post's NTV refusal rates in general with you?

No, but my colleagues and I had an informal competition about who had the most refusals.

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22. Did your superiors ever counsel you to raise or lower your own refusal rate?

No. Nobody ever counseled or attempted to persuade me to increase or decrease my refusal rate.

23. Did you or anyone in the consular section conduct NIV return validation studies? If not, why
not?

Yes, I tried to check on the TCNs. They were the real visa problem, not the Saudis.

24. How well did you speak and read Arabic?

Neither. I understand somel . I I did a lot


of outreach ftom the embassy and am very good at meeting people. Speaking the language is not
the answer to the problem of screening out terrorists.

25. Did the Department train you in this language?

No. 9/11 Working-level Employee

26. Do you consider that the training you received in the Department to carry out your visa
adjudication responsibilities was adequate?

Yes, the ConGen Rosslyn consular training course was excellent. I also felt extremely well
prepared because of| \. But unless-L

beforehand or had some good information about an applicant's intentions or affiliations I could
never know if he was a terrorist or not.

27. If not, what additional training would have enabled you to do a better job?

I can't think of anything beyond what my experience has taught me.

28. What other comments would you like to make at this time regarding this visa case?

The lack of training is not and was not a problem in detecting terrorist. If anything, the problem
was the lack of good intelligence about terrorists. Congressional pressure to issue visas to
friends or associates of a congressional constituent added to our problems.

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