House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King is asking Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for an explanation about why a member of a terrorist organization was granted a visa to visit the United States.
Hani Nour Eldin, a newly elected member of the Egyptian parliament, received the visa and participated in “high-level” meetings at the White House and State Department despite being a self-identified member of Gamaa Islamiya.
Gamaa Islamiya is one of 47 designated foreign terrorist organizations currently listed by the State Department.
Eldin was arrested in 1993 on terrorism charges after a shootout broke out between members of Gamaa Islamiya and Egyptian security officials at a mosque, according to The Daily Beast.
“Mr. Eldin’s membership in [Gamaa Islamiya] is a matter of public record, and reportedly even disclosed on his Facebook page,” wrote King in a letter to Napolitano.
King’s letter said that there may be “legitimate diplomatic reasons to grant a member of a designated terrorist organization a visa to visit the United States,” but that “the nature of Eldin’s visit suggests an absence of full vetting.”
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters on Friday that this particular case “is one that we are now looking into.”
Nuland also said that the entire delegation of Egyptian parliamentarians, including Eldin, came at the request of the Wilson Center, a foreign policy think tank located in Washington, D.C.
Wilson Center public affairs assistant Drew Sample did not speak about the nature of Eldin’s visit, but made it clear to TheDC that “this is not a Wilson Center initiative.”
“We were one stop along the way,” Sample said.
John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations, told the Washington Post that Eldin’s presence is harmful to national security.
“Whether this terrorist’s admission was an error or deliberate effort to appease the extremists, the consequences are harmful to the U.S.,” Bolton said, adding, “Congress should investigate.”
King asked for a response from Napolitano by July 3.