A senior member of Congress wants Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to explain how an Egyptian tied to a terrorist group secured a visa to visit American officials last week.
Hani Nour Eldin, a member of the banned Islamic Group (Gamaa Islamiya), met with government officials as part of a delegation of Egyptian parliamentarians. Eldin's presence was first reported last week by the Daily Beast's Eli Lake, who called it a budding "political fiasco."
The Islamic Group's spiritual leader is Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, considered the inspiration behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and convicted of conspiring in a subsequent plot to blow up New York landmarks and tunnels.
In a letter dated Sunday, U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., asked how Eldin received a visa and came to the United States.
"I am aware that there may be legitimate diplomatic reasons to grant a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization a visa to visit the United States, such as for example in furtherance of peace negotiations," King wrote. "However, the nature of Eldin's visit suggests an absence of full vetting rather than a policy choice, or perhaps a break-down in the screening missions of and coordination among our Federal agencies."
He asked for information about the scrutiny Eldin's visa received, including any consultation with the Department of Homeland Security about Eldin's Islamic Group ties.
In addition, King asked Napolitano for its position about "any potential custodial transfer, or release, of Omar Abdel Rahman," which is something several Egyptians have expressed as a goal.
Eldin's admission into the country is the latest in a series of questionable actions by the administration when it comes to hosting Egyptian Islamists.
In April, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported on extraordinary measures taken to allow members of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party to glide through border security. The State Department ordered that no secondary inspection be done on the group, despite their ties to a radical organization. In addition, one member of the group had been implicated in a child pornography investigation when he lived in the United States.
But due to bureaucratic interference, his laptop computer and other personal items were not searched for illicit material.