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9/11 Working-level Employee


Office of Inspector General

Memorandum of Conversation
Visas for 9/1 1
Subject Embassy Berlin
Office 1/27/03

Arriving at pmbassy Berlin in July 2001, Jim Levy had just completed an assignment in China at
lEmb^ssy Beijing. He has subsequently interviewed by the FBI and the GAO regarding the visas
issued to the ieirorist hijackers Mohamed Atta on May 18,2000 and Ziad Jarrah on May 25,
^000. Those visas were issued bv two American visa adjudicators who are no longer at post.
One of |hem (the Atta visftlwasy la Foreiai Service Officer currently/^ I The
other (tne Jarrah visa) wasA
[ \s was a Consular Associate at the time he issued the visa, and was the dependent
spouse on \o has since been divorced from his wife.
vas a teroprament
u aland
a n consered
considered to be a "tough" visa adjudicator. His
er vears
father recently attempted to locate him after years nf c<»«!M-<>*«''»~ and
of separation, —ii.L-w"
the FSNs at post believe
they have traced him td J using the website

In M|iy 2000 Brian Flora was the embassy's Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, Dennis
the Consular gg«^ti
Imwdldj^asJifiirhief of the «tion nifcnn t » ars, enn
ChiefF J was the Visa Chief, and] thi» American Citizen Services
in t [vas a Consular Associate worki

The visa applications of both terrorists were destroyed in accordance with the Department's
document destruction policies in effect at that time. Once every month Consular Section Berlin
destroyed all applications of visa cases that had been issued 12 months earlier. Berlin stored
such applications in envelopes marked with the month/year of issuance to simplify retention and
destruction. A review of the computer records of their visa cases at the post suggests that neither
terrorist was interviewed or had previous refusals.

The post's visa policies in May 2000 regarding third country applicants (TCNs) were apparently
unwritten although general visa procedures were published on their website
Liz Wolfson, the current American Citizen Services chief, was at post in that capacity in May
2000, recalled that all TCN applications were submitted to the visa adjudicator either through the
mail or through publically accessible "drop boxes" at the embassy. Very few applicants were
actually interviewed.


In 2000, the post considered that TCN students in Berlin, particularly medical students, had a
stake in returning to Germany after a visit to the U.S. The visa officers' view then was that
German was a difficult language for most TCNs and enrolment in a German university a major
accomplishment. TCNs therefore had a real investment in Germany and an incentive to return.
The post was quite liberal with its visa issuances and didn't differentiate between TCNs coming
from western countnes with well established economies and so-called difficult countries such as
China and Nigeria, The prevalent belief was that successful studies in Germany were indicative
of sufficient ties here and, therefore, such students were unlikely to overstay their visits in the
U.S. This policy changed in July 2001 because Jim Levy's experiences in China convinced him
that certain groups of TCN student and other visa applicants were "poor risks" who were indeed
likely to overstay their visits and work in the U.S.

Mr. Levy was proud of the fact that in July 2000, Embassy Berlin refused the visa applications of
potential terrorists Escabar, who was apparently considered to be one of the hijackers who
planned to be in the aircraft that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11th, and Binal Shibh.