- - Monday, January 6, 2014

The representative of a human rights group headed by a designated al Qaeda terrorist was denied a visa by the State Department after being invited by congressional Democrats to discuss drone strikes.

Mohammad Al Ahmady, the Yemen director for Geneva-based NGO Al Karama, was expected to brief Reps. Alan Grayson (D., Fla.), Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), and Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) the morning of the Nov. 19, according to press release from Grayson’s office.

Ahmady, who also serves as a top official in an al Qaeda-linked Yemeni political party, did not attend because of visa issues. The State Department said it could not comment on visa matters.

Several Al Karama officials have faced terrorism allegations. Al Karama’s founder and current president Abdul Rahman Naimi was designated as a terrorist and al Qaeda supporter by the U.S. Treasury Department in December, along with the group’s Yemen representative Abdulwahab Al-Humayqani. Al Karama’s legal director, Rachid Mesli, is currently wanted for terrorism charges in Algeria.

Schakowsky’s office referred questions to Grayson and Lee, saying the other offices led the briefing.

A spokesperson for Grayson said Ahmady did not actually attend the briefing and that the terrorist designation of Al Karama’s president was “not in place at the time of the briefing, so again, we had no reason to suspect any wrongdoing on the part of Mohammad [Al Ahmady].”

Lee’s office did not respond to request for comment.

Al Karama executive director Mourad Dhina said he was unsurprised the State Department turned down Ahmady’s visa request.

“To be frank, it was not a big surprise to us, because obviously the report [that Al Karama had recently published on U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and that Ahmady was going to present] was not something to be welcomed by the U.S. government,” Dhina said. “We hoped that Mr. Ahmady would have been able to come and present the thing and debate things with whoever would be interested in debating that.”

National security hawks blasted the Democrats for seeking advice on U.S. policy from a group run by an apparent al Qaeda supporter.

“More than a decade into this war, people serious about American national security need to look at how our leaders can be so consistently fooled by groups like Al Karama, who warn about empowering al Qaeda in public but fund the jihadist group in private,” said the Center for Security Policy’s David Reaboi.

The Capitol Hill briefing is one of several instances of the terror-linked Al Karama attempting to influence U.S. counterterrorism policy through Washington policymakers, international institutions, and the media.

The group has issued reports criticizing the U.S. drone program in Yemen and has worked with major names in the human rights community, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the Daily Beast reported in December.

Naimi is still president of Al Karama, the group told the Free Beacon. He had previously told other media outlets he resigned after his terror designation was announced.

Al Karama’s executive director said the foundation must go through a formal process to decide whether Naimi will resign, beginning with a board meeting that will likely be held next week.

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