Last week in the U.S., Europe, and the Caucasus, people are asking how the terrorists got to Europe and then into the United States. Why didn't they have problems when moving into these countries, while ordinary citizens encounter enormous problems trying to enter these countries even on tourist visas.
Just a week before the infamous acts of terrorism in Boston, I began to study the way in which a hypothetical terrorist could conceivably enter legally into the United States.
I am not arguing that this happened in the case of Tsarnaev, but it is a fact that this route is accessible to terrorists. And it does not require any special knowledge or financial costs.
I got this idea from something that happened to one of my friends here in the Republic of Georgia. She is an ethnic Kurd.
Georgia and Azerbaijan have become very close to Turkey. The Georgian government, under pressure from the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, began to build a mosque named after the conquering Sultan Suleiman Abdel Aziz in Georgia, using Georgia taxpayers' money.
In part because of this, ethnic Kurds have started gradually to leave Georgia, because they do not consider themselves to be protected in this country. They are looking for ways to move to Europe, where, in their opinion, they will be more secure than at home in Georgia.
One Kurd told me a story that is very interesting to me, and I think part of her story will raise the curtain on how some terrorists enter the United States.
As we all know, for citizens of the former Soviet Union, it is very difficult to get a U.S. visa. For example I was traveling as a journalist to a conference in New York at the invitation of Pamela Geller, but the State Department refused me a visa. How then are Chechens and other jihadists are finding the way?
If you want to enter the E.U. from Georgia, you need a visa. As with the U.S., even getting a tourist visa can be very difficult. You need to collect a lot of documents, including a birth certificate and a document from your bank certifying that you have the money for the trip -- about 8,000 U.S. dollars. Of course, not everyone can gather all these documents, and even if you have collected all the documents, there is no guarantee that you will be given a visa. But there's another way. It is cheaper but more dangerous. My Kurdish acquaintance wanted to take advantage of just this way.
This is her story. From Tbilisi she flew to Minsk, Belarus. In Minsk she boarded the train and reached the city of Brest. At Brest she boarded the train to Warsaw, Poland. Poland is a member of the E.U., and there is a camp there for those who are running away from the former Soviet Union. On the train with her were for some young people who were ethnic Chechens.
"They joked with me all the way," she recalled. "They said I wasn't missing anything in Europe, and that it was better to go home. They said I wouldn't be let into Europe anyway. I did not believe that. I told them that the Turks kill Kurds, and that it was dangerous to live in Georgia. They continued to laugh. They said that if I accepted Islam, I could avoid being sent to the harem of some Turkish businessman. And they also said that as Muslims, they had a very strong diaspora in Poland, Germany, France, and England, and that they had no problems entering any of those countries."
She went on:
The train reached the border of Poland and Belarus, and stopped. The Polish border guard boarded the train and asked us to show our passports. We were warned that we should say that we were "Azul" -- that is, that we were refugees.
We were taken off from the train and taken to an interview with a police officer. What Chechens told me happened: they were allowed to enter Poland, and I was not.
When I asked the officer why the Chechens were allowed in and I was not, she said, "There is a war in their country! They need our support."
While I was traveling with these Chechens, they told me that many Chechens who fought against Russia were already citizens in Poland, Germany, France and even the UK, and from there were easily able to enter the United States.
She told me this story when she came back to Georgia, and I could not understand why the Chechens were allowed to pass into Poland and she was not.
There is also another way to sneak into the U.S. This method is also not difficult. You need to take Georgian citizenship. Many citizens of Islamic countries became citizens of Georgia.
Some of them are terrorists. Pamela Geller wrote about it in her article: Chechens linked to terrorism have been arrested in Turkey with Georgian passports. Chechens have no difficulty acquiring the citizenship of Arab States, Turkey and even Iran. A very large Chechen diaspora is in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Even as far back as 1995, many jihadists went to Europe using a path through Georgia to Turkey.
Many of the Caucasian mujahideen go through Georgia to go to wage jihad in Syria and elsewhere. Receiving Georgian citizenship, they can go to Turkey without a visa and without a passport. Unfortunately, they can go from there to Iran, too.
Back in 1996, Osama bin Laden wanted to establish a road by which jihadists could pass legally through Georgia to Europe and then into the United States. That is why he began to finance the construction of the road from Grozny in Chechnya to Tbilisi in Georgia. Back in 1996, many jihadists tried to settle in Poland and France. Did they succeed? And if so, are we going eventually to see even larger and more terrible acts of terrorism?