Medical clinics across the country have been flooded with requests from foreign nationals from Pakistan and other Muslim countries to help them gain visa entry into the U.S. as patients. The post-9/11 trend concerns authorities who fear al-Qaida could be using the medical industry to infiltrate terrorist cells into the country. Some clinics have sponsored foreign patients only to have them fail to show up at their facilities. The Caster Eye Center in Beverly Hills, Calif., for example, stopped granting such foreign requests after a couple of no-shows.
In the wake of the recent "doctor jihad" in the UK, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are scrutinizing foreign nationals who have applied to the U.S. for visas to attend medical school or practice medicine here.
Two of the UK physicians who plotted to car-bomb London's entertainment district had applied for permission to work in the U.S. One made contact with the Philadelphia-based Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.
Terrorists posing as patients also are a growing concern, federal authorities say.