How well do we screen visa applicants?

A Pakistani doctor on a temporary H-1B visa to work at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota is serving time in federal prison for conspiring to kill other Hippocratic sworn advocates “behind enemy lines.” as he wrote in an encrypted jihadist social media channel.

He was tired of constantly smiling at the incredulous “kuffar” doctors around him at the world-famous medical clinic his visa had sponsored “just so as not to make them suspicious.” I can not stand it anymore. There is so much I wanted to do here. Lon Wulf [sic] things you know I want to kill and be killed. . . and kill and be killed. . . again and again.”

Luckily, in March 2020, the FBI caught Dr. Muhammad Masood was snatched before he could implement a new plan to capture a cargo ship in Los Angeles destined to deliver him to the terrorist group Islamic State in Syria, where he had instead decided to work as a trained hitman and combat medic.

“I wonder if I’ll miss the opportunity to attack the enemy when I’m in the thick of things,” he told an FBI informant about his plan to go abroad.

Last week, a federal judge sentenced the 31-year-old to 18 years in prison for providing material support to IS.

Luckily, in March 2020, the FBI caught Dr. Muhammad Masood caught before he could implement a new plan to hijack a cargo ship in Los Angeles.

But no one should be satisfied and move on.

The typically superficial media coverage of this latest instance of Islamic terror has belied the civic obligation to address the broader internal security issues that it naturally raises.

The main question is whether US visa security clearance is sufficient to detect, or at least reasonably anticipate, acute threats among doctors, software developers and other qualified H-1B visa applicants before they leave their home countries where US terrorism is a concern is, like Pakistan, the last homeland of Osama Bin Laden.

The government received more than 483,000 H-1B visa applications for 2023 and more than 780,000 for 2024.

President Donald Trump’s “travel ban” on seven countries where terrorism is a concern didn’t affect Pakistan, but the ban’s goal was to block threats like Masood (although he wasn’t in the country when he arrived in 2018). terror risk profiles).

President Joe Biden ended Trump’s “discriminatory” visa restrictions – amid criticism from institutions like Mayo that the policy is wrong blocked the entry of doctors from these countries.

This leads American security experts to believe that credibility fields protect doctors from scrutiny.

But they shouldn’t say anything about the doctors’ interest in global jihad, no matter where they come from, as we know from Dr. Nidal Hasan learned of the 2009 massacre of US Army comrades at Fort Hood, Texas, and from an unexpectedly long list of other terrorist Hippocracy oathbreakers.

Research-based evidence and other reports show that doctors from abroad are becoming terrorists or terrorist leaders in shocking numbers.

There is, of course, Osama bin Laden’s successor, Egyptian al-Qaeda mastermind and surgeon Ayman al-Zawahiri.

There’s George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who became a notorious bomber and hijacker of passenger planes in the 1960s and 1970s, and Fathi Shaqaqi, who founded the blood-soaked Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the 1980s.

Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden
Getty Images

Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, the late Hamas leader, was a pediatrician.

Doctors and other highly qualified professionals can also be operators.

Eight suspects in the foiled 2007 “doctor plot” to bomb targets in London and Glasgow were doctors and medical professionals, including Iraqi-born Dr. Bilal Abdullah, who was arrested when he tried to blow up a jeep loaded with gas cylinders at Glasgow Airport.

There is the US-educated “Lady al-Qaeda”, the Pakistan-born Aafia Siddiqui. She is in federal prison in Texas after being convicted in 2010 for taking an M4 rifle from US soldiers who captured her in Afghanistan and opening fire on her while screaming “Allah Akbar!”

Siddiqui is an MIT-trained neuroscientist who earned his PhD from Brandeis University before planning mass attacks on New York City landmarks and killing Americans in Afghanistan.

Doctors and medical students from all over the world lined up in 2015 when IS launched a call for foreign health workers.

Her boss was Kefah Basheer Hussein, a rheumatologist and ISIS “minister of health.”

This doctor oversaw the removal of organs and blood from prisoners who were about to be executed.

For his part, Muhammad Masood looked great on paper, which probably led to US officials being inclined to speculate since he was a doctor.

court records and his LinkedIn profile show that he earned a Bachelor of Medicine from Islamic International Medical College in Islamabad and a Bachelor of Surgery from Riphah International University.

He earned a General Certificate of Education from the University of Cambridge and was licensed by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.

Masood joined the Rochester Mayo Clinic in early 2018, and court records suggest he likely already held extreme views; A brief marriage broke up shortly after his arrival – “an obvious consequence of the defendants’ demand that their conduct be conformed to strict Islamic principles,” according to the government’s verdict memorandum.

Masood Bachelor of Medicine from Islamic International Medical College, Islamabad.
Masood earned a Bachelor of Medicine degree from the Islamic International Medical College in Islamabad.
AFP via Getty Images

Throughout 2019, he continued to study the lectures of Hellfire missile-killed American Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, whose repeated calls for violence still incite jihadists.

The Masood case raises the question: how do we screen such professionals from countries of terrorist significance?

Not very good, like this immigration studies center Database showing security check errors.

Federal officials familiar with H-1B visa review processes say the Homeland Security and State Departments review applications for apparent fraud and maintain databases for terrorism watch lists or criminal history hits.

A US consular officer in the country might invite the applicant for cursory interviews. But there isn’t much online life scrutiny or interviews with friends, relatives and former employers who might report terrorism tendencies.

“It’s the same amount of screening as there is on a vacation to Walt Disney World,” a DHS screening veteran recently told me. “You’re doing everything you can, and you know? If all his paperwork was in order and a consulate official said, “He’s a doctor and goes to the Mayo Clinic,” they just won’t check much.”

In other words: keep your fingers crossed.

Todd Bensman is the author of Overrun: How Joe Biden Unleashed the Greatest Border Crisis in US History.


DUSTIN JONES is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. DUSTIN JONES joined USTimeToday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with DUSTIN JONES by emailing

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