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Who waived US law to allow an “alien engaged in terror activity” into the US?

Maurice Hirsch, Adv.  |

A clear provision of US law denies entry of officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to the US. Despite this clear prohibition, on October 5 and 6, 2022, Hussein Al-Sheikh, who in May 2022 was appointed to Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the PLO, not only entered the US, but also held high-level discussions with officials of the Biden administration, including, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, and Andrew Plitt and Megan Doherty of USAID.  

Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part II, § 1182(a)(3)(B)(i)(I) of the U.S. Code prohibits entry to the US of aliens who have “engaged in terrorist activity.” Subsection (IX) adds that “An alien who is an officer, official, representative, or spokesman of the Palestine Liberation Organization is considered, for purposes of this chapter, to be engaged in a terrorist activity.” 

For many years, while the PLO was permitted to operate an office in Washington DC, successive US administrations predominantly waived the aforementioned prohibition. However, in 2018, the PLO offices were closed, after the State Department concluded that the “PLO had failed to use its Washington office to engage in direct and meaningful negotiations on achieving a comprehensive peace settlement and, therefore, closing the PLO’s Washington office would serve the foreign policy interests of the United States.” [Legal opinion of the US State Department, “Statutory Restrictions on the PLO’s Washington Office”, Sept. 11, 2018]  

Since that designation, the PLO has done nothing to change the situation. In fact, as Palestinian Media Watch has shown, since then, the PLO has not only continued to fail to engage in meaningful negotiations, it has also taken active steps in the opposite direction and promoted terror against Israel.  

As a result, despite campaign promises, the Biden administration has failed to reopen the PLO offices, because it is prohibited to do so under US law.  

The most important reason to continue denying PLO officials entry into the US is that the PLO factions are still actively engaged in terror

The PLO is dominated by the Fatah faction, headed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Al-Sheikh is not only the Secretary General of the PLO (the most senior position after Abbas in this organization), but he is also a senior member of Fatah. Fatah’s "military wing", the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, is a US-designated terror organization. While Fatah never abandoned the principle of the use of violence and terror to achieve its goals, the last year has seen a clear rise in Fatah terror. 

The following are just some of the PMW reports that documented Fatah’s incitement, promotion and participation in terror, from the beginning of 2022 alone: 

Other actions taken by the PLO and its members have included the glorification of terrorist murderers and attacks; repeated threats to revoke the already empty PLO recognition of Israel’s right to exist combined with the clarification that the PLO still adheres to its “Program of Stages” to destroy Israel; the PLO renouncing all agreements with Israel; and, the PLO’s continued involvement in the Palestinian Authority’s terror rewarding “Pay-for-Slay” policy

According to Al-Sheikh, during their meetings, the representatives of USAID “announced the increase in the volume of their support for the Palestinian people.” [Twitter account of Al-Sheikh, Oct. 5, 2022]. As PMW has already noted, while the aid provided to the Palestinians through USAID does not strictly breach the provisions of the Taylor Force Act, it certainly does betray the memory of Taylor Force.  

Given the overwhelming evidence proving the continued participation of the PLO and its factions in terror activities, the question begs: Who waived the US law in order to allow Al-Sheikh into the US and what was the justification for doing so?