State Dept. Official Details the Security Checks San Bernardino Terrorist Cleared to Get to U.S.

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The San Bernardino terrorist who came to the U.S. on a fiancé visa cleared all applicable security checks required for admission to the U.S., a State Department official detailed Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“With respect to the San Bernardino case, yes indeed that was a fiancé visa, which is a type of visa issued to a fiancé of a U.S. citizen for the purpose of coming to the United States to get married within 90 days and I can confirm, as the department already has, that all applicable security checks were done for that individual, Ms. [Tashfeen] Malik,” Edward Ramotowski, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for visa services, testified before the Senate panel.

Ramotowski was not on the original panel convened by the committee to examine the Visa Waiver Program. Ramotowski was in the audience and brought up to testify in order to answer Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s (R-NH) about Malik’s visa.

The State Department official detailed a rather extensive process through which Malik passed. Ramotowski said:

That includes an immigrant visa interview, it includes facial recognition screening, it includes interagency counterterrorism screening. It included a review by the visa security unit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement which has a detachment in Islamabad, in our embassy there. And it included full biometric fingerprint checks and in all cases the results of those checks were cleared. There were no indications of any ill intent by that individual at the time that visa was issued.

Ayotte questioned Ramotowski on the public reporting that some of the information Malik provided was inaccurate on her application, specifically the kind of verification officials do to check what an applicant claims. He responded:

That varies by application and by location. If we have doubts about a particular part of a visa application our embassies and consulates have anti-fraud units that can investigate further to verify the data on an application or form. With respect to this particular case there is an investigation led by the FBI. We have shared all of our details and records with them and we’re working closely with them on any of the data that was provided.

Ramotowski noted that such a verification process is not required for each applicant but that it would be triggered if an officer felt that there might be something amiss about an application.


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