Shayna Steinger, was a US visa official working in the Jeddah, Saudi Arabia US consular office, who issued visas to 12 of the 19 hijackers blamed for the attacks of September 11th 2001. The 9/11 Commission Report does not mention her by name, but states that a single official gave visas to 11 of the hijackers - though other information included in the report suggests that the correct number should be 12, a figure Steinger herself has reportedly confirmed. However, Steinger gave verbal testimony to the State Department Inspector General in 2002, in which she stated that it did not matter that all the hijackers’ visa applications were incomplete, because Saudis were eligible for visas anyway thru the "Visa Express Program". She also stated that she did not interview most of the hijackers she issued visas to and, even if she had interviewed them, she would probably have issued them with visas regardless. She also claims that the Jeddah office was understaffed and overwhelmed with applicants.
Yet she was met with criticisms from inside the consular office by her coworkers who said she was irresoluble in allowing many of the applications, which went without review, that shouldn't have been approved. There were even rumors that Steinger herself was affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency at some level. This incident is similar to what happened during the Afghan-Soviet war where a former US consular official, J,Michael Springmann, denied applications that were incomplete but overruled and approved by another consular official, Stephanie Smith, who happened to also be a CIA official. In this episode i explore the months leading up to the 9/11 attacks and what was happening inside the Jeddah consular office.
Shayna Steinger interview with State Department Inspector General report: