My Word for October 23, 2001

In light of new information revealing an anthrax letter bomber had set his sights on the White House, I'd like to revisit my opinion that we must do something about our procedures for letting visitors into this country — particularly visitors from Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, which we now learn teaches rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Westernism.

I don't get U.S. postal mail anymore, but many people have emailed me that tightening up the customs posts would be a very good thing, and that maybe we ought to revoke visas for people from certain Middle Eastern countries until we can get this terror threat straightened out.

Other people accuse me of being un-American and racist, and call me names for even suggesting we ought to sort people out by nationality. This despite the obvious fact that the Sept. 11 killers were all Middle Eastern and were all here on visas. Not a citizen among 'em.

Now let me tell you how one of the planners of that terror mission was issued a visa to get into the U.S. so he could wander around and scope out targets.

Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri is the former head of the Egyptian jihad terror group — the one that killed Anwar Sadat — and he has joined up with Usama bin Laden.

According to both the New Yorker magazine and the New York Times, he traveled the country in 1995 under the name of Dr. Abdel Muez.

At the time, he hadn't yet hooked up with bin Laden, but he had been kicked out of Egypt for sponsoring terrorist cells bent on overthrowing the Egyptian government. He was a first class, festering boil of terror waiting to explode.

He got into the U.S. on a fake passport with a fake name. He travelled the country raising funds and picking out targets. Can we assume he looked over the World Trade Center — in fact — all of New York? Probably. And God knows what else.

Doesn't this illustrate how much fixing we have to do when it comes to our rules on who we admit, even for visits?

If somebody wants to bomb New York City, they should have to go on the Internet and look at Mapquest. They shouldn't be able to stroll around midtown sizing things up first hand.

It's time to revoke the visas. We did it with the Iranian students in 1979, and we should do it again now.

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