The State Department broke with normal procedures last week when it ordered the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) not to conduct a secondary inspection on members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) on their way to visit government officials and think tanks in the United States.
This happened despite the fact that one member of the delegation had been implicated – though not charged – in a U.S. child pornography investigation, the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has learned.
According to senior enforcement sources and documents reviewed by the IPT, investigators had information tying Abdul Mawgoud Dardery to the pornography investigation that was based in Pennsylvania. He was the senior member in the four-person FJP delegation which held court with academic groups and met with senior officials at the White House and State Department last week. (For more on what they said, click here.)
The FJP recently won a plurality of seats in recent elections to determine makeup of the next Egyptian Parliament.
Before returning to Egypt, Dardery lived in the United States long enough to attain legal permanent residency, known as a green card. That status lapsed after he left the country for more than six months. The child pornography investigation took place during Dardery's time here and was noted in his immigration file. It surfaced when CBP officials learned of his pending visit.
A U.S. official familiar with immigration procedures told the IPT that extra inspection is standard operating procedure when a foreign visitor has been tied to criminal or terrorist activities. "Secondary inspections" involve going through the visitor's baggage and viewing the contents of computers and other electronic devices to search for evidence of illicit activity. Agents would typically search other members of the party to ensure Dardery did not hand off his computer equipment to an associate to avoid detection.
In addition, the Brotherhood's relationship with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas would have triggered extra scrutiny for the incoming delegation. But that "secondary inspection" never happened, a law enforcement source said. The State Department ordered CBP not to do it.
The State Department issued a cable specifically barring Customs officials from carrying out any inspections of Dardery and the other members of the delegation on their arrival at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. The immigration official described this action by the State Department as "extraordinary."
Beyond the State Department's prohibition on conducting extra scrutiny of Dardery and members of his delegation, the State Department barred US Customs officials from carrying out even the standard inspection mandated for foreigners arriving from Egypt, where an enhanced security program is in place as a result of the 9-11 attacks.
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 with the goal of establishing a worldwide Islamic state through jihad and martyrdom. The group is considered the parent of all Sunni terrorist groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.