Video: Marry A Terrorist - For Money?
updated 3/2/2006 1:22:27 PM ET 2006-03-02T18:22:27

Are Americans actually helping terrorists by marrying them for money? 

According to the 9/11 Commission, several of the terrorists involved in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center were in this country because they had legal status for marrying an American. 

NBC terror analyst Evan Kohlmann and also from the Center for Immigration Studies, Michael Cutler, a 30-year veteran with the INS joined ‘Scarborough Country’ to discuss this shocking development.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, ‘SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY’:  Michael, how dangerous of a problem is this for us? 

MICHAEL CUTLER, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES:  It's a very big problem.  You know, there has been so much emphasis on securing our border, but this is kind of like putting secure locks on your house and then handing keys out to people that enable them to open the door. 

When give somebody a green card and ultimately United States citizenship, it not only gives them free access to our borders, it gives them access to borders of so many other countries of the world. 

And we know from the results of the information developed by the 9/11 Commission that prior to the attacks, the terrorists needed to travel often and extensively, and we're making it so much easier for them because there's just not enough resources to uncover immigration fraud, whether it's marriage fraud or labor fraud, document fraud, major problem and very little attention being paid to it in terms of resources and manpower. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Evan, I don't want to offend anybody here, but I've just got to tell you a story.  An undercover FBI agent was sitting around having drinks, telling me that the greatest risk to America's safety was fat women.  I said, fat women, what are you talking about?  Thinking he was joking. 

He said, a lot of these terrorists team up with insecure women.  They get married to them, and then their entire family comes in and we can't do a damn thing about it.  Does he have a point? 

EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  Well, I think it's more money than anything else.  Money is the real motivator here.  You're talking about folks that are pretty desperate.  Some of these guys that are coming in, these terrorists that are seeking fraudulent marriages, they don't come across as the most normal or as the most trustworthy kind of guys. 

But if you have a group of women that are really desperate for money, this is a very easy way of making it.  Now, I think really the focus here, though, needs to be on oversight.  It's not so much regulation.  We need more inspectors.  We need to have them more carefully examining some of these marriages because it is a real problem. 

I mean, the imam of James Ujaama up in the State of Washington, that being the plot involving al Qaeda's effort to set up an al Qaeda training camp here in the U.S., that imam had gotten citizenship through a fraudulent marriage. 

You even had someone affiliated with the 9/11 hijackers out in San Diego, Mohdar Abdullah, a Yemeni national who on September 10th eloped with a 16-year-old girl and September 12th, one day after 9/11, attempted to marry her.  Now, do you think that was a romantic situation or do you think that was a marriage of convenience? 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Evan, what does our government do?  I mean, obviously we can't go through all these marriage certificates and look for Arab-sounding names and then question them.  How do we enforce this? 

KOHLMANN:  I think we're getting better at it.  And one of the reasons we're getting better at it is because we're getting better at really figuring out who's a terrorist and who's not.  I think when you look at someone, you start looking at their background and you find out they've been involved in Social Security fraud, you find out that they have a funny situation going on with their marriage to an individual they have no previous contact with. 

These are warning signs.  And eventually they add to a profile of a terrorist, a real profile.  Not a racial profile or a religious, but the profile of someone who is really involved in this, because let's face it, a lot of the people that are involved in marriage fraud are also involved in other kinds of basic identity theft: Social Security fraud, credit card fraud. 

These are the kind of activities where if we have investigators who are familiar with the phenomenon, who understand these kinds of trends when they see them, they should be able to pick these examples up.  And we're going to have to have enough folks on the job, number one, and they're gong to have to be properly trained to look for these kind of warning signs. 

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