WASHINGTON: A member of an Egyptian "terrorist" group who met U.S. officials in Washington this month despite U.S. law barring such visits did not pose a threat to the United States, the State Department said on Tuesday.
Hani Nour Eldin, a member of Egypt's dissolved parliament, obtained a U.S. visa and meetings with U.S. officials despite his membership in Egypt's Gama'a al-Islamiyya, which the State Department deems a "foreign terrorist organization" (FTO).
The incident has embarrassed the State Department, which has declined to explain in detail how Eldin was granted a visa in spite of a U.S. law that generally bars members of "foreign terrorist organizations" from visiting the United States.
It has also pointed up the ticklish nature of U.S. contacts with some politicians that have emerged in Egypt since U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was ousted as president on Feb. 11, 2011 - many of them Islamists whom the U.S. government once largely shunned.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the department had concluded Eldin posed no threat to the United States and said she was not aware of any evidence that U.S. laws were broken.
"Based on the background checks that were conducted as part of his visa application and other additional information that has come to light since that time, we neither had then nor do we have now any reason to believe that this particular individual, who at the time of his application was a member of parliament, would pose a threat to the United States," Nuland said.
Under U.S. law, being a member of a "foreign terrorist organization" generally bars a non-U.S. citizen from visiting the United States though waivers can be granted, Nuland said.
She declined to say whether the department knew of Eldin's membership in Gama'a al-Islamiyya when it granted him the visa or whether he would have been given a waiver if it had known.