The US State Department broke with procedure last week when it ordered US 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 in the US.
It is not clear where the order was issued from.
This happened despite the fact that one member of the delegation had been implicated – though not charged – in a US child pornography investigation, according to the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
The person of interest to the US State Department was Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, who was part of a pornography investigation 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.
Dardery had 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 in the US and was so noted in his immigration file. It surfaced when CBP officials learned of his pending visit.
A US official said 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 JFK Airport.
The Brotherhood recently won a near majority in parliamentary elections – a sweep by any evaluation.
Ironically, they are keen on introducing legislation to block Internet access to pornography in Egypt.
The IPT report is here.