On Sept. 11, 2001, four passenger jets were hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists and used as weapons, resulting in the deaths of 2,996. The hijackers organized into four teams that day, with 15 of the 19 being citizens of Saudi Arabia, including one here on a student visa.
Since that fateful day, the number of Saudi Arabian students in the United States has increased by more than 500 percent, CNS News reports.
Based on numbers by the Institute of International Education, used by the Department of Education, there were 5,579 Saudi nationals enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education in the 2001-2002 school year — the Sept. 11 attacks took place near the beginning of that school year.
In the 2011-2012 school year, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 34,139 Saudi nationals enrolled in institutions of higher education in the United States.
That is an increase of more than 500 percent, according to CNS News.
Fox News reported last month that Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to extend a program intended to give “trusted traveler” status to low-risk airline passengers to include Saudi travelers.
After the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt in 2009 by al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia was placed on a list of countries whose U.S.-bound travelers would face higher scrutiny.
Travelers cleared through the “trusted traveler” program are able to bypass normal customs line after providing passports and fingerprints.
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