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Ordered Liberty

One should always hesitate before jumping to the conclusion that the something that just happened is the worst thing that has ever happened — history usually has many worse “worsts” ready to hand. Still, if there has been a more breathtakingly arrogant performance by an administration official in the modern history of the United States than the one Jen Rubin reports on at the Washington Post today, I can’t think of it.

The Obama administration recently issued a visa to an Egyptian named Hani Nour Eldin, an operative of a foreign terrorist organization — formally designated as such under U.S. law — so that the administration could consult with the jihadist about Egypt’s future under the governance of Eldin’s pals at the Muslim Brotherhood. This is not speculation: Eldin brags about being a member of the organization and the administration concedes the visa was issued and the meeting happened.

Outrageous as this sounds, it does not do the outrage justice. The terrorist organization in question, the Islamic Group (Gama’at al Islamia), is the group led by Omar Abdel Rahman, the notorious “Blind Sheikh” currently serving a life sentence in U.S. federal prison for his foundational role in forming the jihadist cell that carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and was later thwarted while attempting simultaneously to bomb several other New York City landmarks. (I handled the case for the United States, back when its government thought jihadists should be prosecuted rather than cultivated.)  The Blind Sheikh’s cell, essentially, was a U.S. branch of the Islamic Group (IG).

Moreover, the IG has committed numerous atrocities the goal of which has been to extort the United States into releasing the Blind Sheikh from prison. These include the barbaric murders of several dozen tourists in Luxor, Egypt, in 1997. The IG, in conjunction with its allies in al Qaeda, has openly and repeatedly threatened violence against the United States if the Blind Sheikh is not released and repatriated to Egypt. A staple of the Egyptian Islamic Ascendancy Arab Spring is the now routine and hostile IG-driven demonstration outside the U.S. embassy to demand the Blind Sheikh’s release. So seriously has our government heretofore taken the IG that the Bush Justice Department prosecuted the Blind Sheikh’s lawyer, Lynne Stewart, for material support to terrorism over her communication of messages from the Blind Sheikh to IG members in Egypt.

Despite being 70 years old, Stewart was ultimately sentenced to ten years in prison for consulting with and advising the IG. The Obama administration is now doing essentially the same thing Stewart was doing but calling it “foreign policy.” The administration is actively aiding and abetting members of a terrorist organization with a hellacious record of violence and threats of violence against the United States. That is not just a departure from American policy against negotiating with terrorists; it is a serious violation of federal law.

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