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What Went Wrong with Vetting Tashfeen Malik’s Visa

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) released key findings of a review of San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik’s immigration file on Friday.

Malik came to the United States on a K-1 fiancée visa in 2014. On December 2, 2015 she and new husband Syed Rizwan Farook carried out Islamic terror attacks at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 22 injured. The case has brought increased criticism of the visa vetting process.

“After reviewing Tashfeen Malik’s immigration file, it is clear that immigration officials did not thoroughly vet her application,” Goodlatte said in a statement released on Friday.

Those seeking to obtain a fiancée must have met in person. Goodlatte said Friday, “Malik’s immigration file does not show sufficient evidence for this requirement. What is worse, the immigration official reviewing Malik’s application requested more evidence to ensure the two met in person but it was never provided and her visa was approved anyway.”

Goodlatte points out that immigration officials made requests for additional information regarding whether Malik and Farook did indeed meet while each was in Saudi Arabia in 2013. However it does not appear that the information was ever produced. The only immigration file documents on the subject were: “(i) a statement by Syed Farook that he and Malik had been together in Saudi Arabia, and (ii) copies of pages from their passports, containing visas to enter Saudi Arabia and stamps in Arabic.”

A researcher for the House Judiciary Committee was charged with translating stamps in Malik’s passport. It was determined that Malik entered the country on approximately June 4, 2013 with a 60-day visa. A translator could not determine the day and month Malik left, but the year showed 2013. Farouk entered Saudi Arabia on October 1, 2013 according to his passport, and an exit stamp read October 20, 2013. Goodlatte points out that it is unlikely the two were even in the country at the same time, but even if they were, it was not proven that the two met during that time.

Immigration files for Malik did not produce proof that a request for translation of the K-1 applicant’s passport were actually completed.

“Visa security is critical to national security, and it’s unacceptable that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not fully vet Malik’s application and instead sloppily approved her visa,” said Representative Goodlatte.

The State Department defended their part in vetting Malik, telling the Los Angeles Times, “All required procedures were followed in the K-1 visa case for Ms. Malik.” Department spokesperson Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau went on to say, “There were no indications of any ill intent at the time that the visa was issued.” The Times reported that officials claim Farook and Malik’s names were checked against criminal and counterterror databases, but no negative information was found.

Further debate has surrounded the social media exchanges between Malik and a group of Pakistani friends sent in 2012 and 2014 according to the Times. Those messages–in which Malik pledged support for Islamic jihad and hope to join the fight–were not included in vetting to visa applicant.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana

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