Hindu Vivek Kendra
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Pakistan, S. Arabia high terrorist risks

Pakistan, S. Arabia high terrorist risks

Author: Anwar Iqbal
Publication: Washington Times
Date: December 17, 2002
URL: http://www.washtimes.com/upi-breaking/20021217-010327-6655r.htm

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been added to the list of countries whose nationals are considered high terrorist risks.

Citizens of both nations visiting the United States must register with the Immigration and Naturalization Services between Jan. 13 and Feb. 21. They will also be fingerprinted and photographed.

"The requirement becomes effective from the day it is published in the Federal Register," said Jorge Martinez, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice. "It has been placed for public viewing today (Tuesday) and will be published tomorrow (Wednesday)."

The addition of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan brings to 20 the number of countries covered under the registration program.

"The embassy has not yet been informed officially," said Mohammed Sadiq, the deputy chief of mission at the Pakistan Embassy. "We are going to send a very strong demarche to the Justice and State Departments."

Sadiq, however, urged visitors from Pakistan to follow the instructions.

"While in the United States, they have to follow the law of the land," he said.

Muslim rights groups also have criticized the registration program, saying it does little to catch potential terrorists.

The INS says it netted 179 suspects using the fingerprinting and registration techniques, but none of them was a terrorist.

The inclusion of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia may upset the two nations, both U.S. allies in the war on terror.

But U.S. officials have criticized both governments for failing to check a rising tide of religious extremism.

U.S. officials say the Saudi government is not doing enough to stop charities from helping religious extremists. FBI officials are investigating charges that some members of the royal family may have made payments to one of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers.

The electoral gains made by an anti-U.S. religious alliance in Pakistan caused alarm in some quarters of the United States, forcing Washington to put Pakistan on the list of high-risk countries, U.S. officials said.

The latest registration notice affects males from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who are ages 16 or older and who entered the United States on or before Sept. 30, 2002. If they plan to stay in the United States into late February, they will have until Feb. 21, 2003, to register and provide documentation to the INS about their visit.

Under the National Security Entry Exit Registration System, the U.S. government must maintain photographs and fingerprints of all male visitors from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria and Sudan. An additional 13 countries were added to the list in October.

More than 3,000 men ages 16 and up from the five countries on the first list were needed to register by Monday evening. Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria are also on the U.S. State Department's list of the countries that sponsor terrorism.

Another group of more than 7,000 males from 13 other nations are required to register by Jan. 10. Out of these 13 countries, 12 -- Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen -- are Muslim. North Korea is the only non-Muslim country on this list.

Those who fail to register can be deported. The program does not affect permanent residents, men with INS "green cards" or naturalized citizens from those countries. Diplomats also are excluded, as well as those who are seeking political asylum in the United States or have been granted it.

"The United States will always welcome visitors from foreign countries, but after the tragic events of September 11th, it is clear that we have to understand better who is entering and exiting our country," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "The registration program assists us in protecting the safety of the American people and the rights of those visitors coming to our country."

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