Terror Suspect’s Visa Kept Valid For Larger Probe, Hearing Told

Terror suspect's visa kept valid for larger probe, hearing told

By Nathan Hurst
The Detroit News, January 28, 2010

Washington, DC –The State Department didn't revoke the visa of foiled terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to protect a larger investigation, a top State Department official revealed Wednesday.

Patrick F. Kennedy, an undersecretary for management at the State Department, said Abdulmutallab's visa wasn't taken away at the request of federal counterterrorism officials concerned that doing so would have foiled an investigation into al-Qaida threats against the United States.

'Revocation action would've disclosed what they were doing,' Kennedy said in testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Allowing Abdulmutallab to keep the visa increased chances federal investigators would be able to get closer to apprehending the terror network he is accused of working with, 'rather than simply knocking out one soldier in that effort.'

When asked about why the State Department wouldn't revoke the visa despite indications he was involved in a terror plot, Kennedy reiterated his assertion that intelligence agencies sometimes request visas not be revoked 'for the purpose of rolling up an entire network, not just one person.'

That revelation came during a hearing on Capitol Hill into the events surrounding the Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam on which law enforcement officials say Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old native of Nigeria, tried, but failed, to detonate an explosive shortly before the plane landed in Detroit.

Washington politicians have focused criticism on two key areas: the intelligence community breakdown that led to Abdulmutallab being able to board the plane, and the handling of the suspected terrorist after his apprehension.

Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, the only Michigan lawmaker on the committee, and other Republican colleagues, including Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., said they want to question Attorney General Eric Holder over the Justice Department's decision to read Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights and offer him court-appointed defense attorneys without consulting intelligence officials first.

That issue has become a contentious one on Capitol Hill in recent weeks.

Miller and King also introduced House Bill 4415 on Wednesday. The bill calls for a suspected terrorist who is 'closely associated with or has provided material support to al Qaeda or any other organization dedicated to committing acts of terrorism' to be detained 'for military purposes' per the authorization of the president 'regardless of the location of the individual's capture.'

A similar Senate bill is being sponsored by Susan Collins, R- Maine, and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.