WASHINGTON (Apr. 19)
Shafik Al-Hout, the director of the Beirut operation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who had received a “restricted visa” from the State Department to speak and travel in the United States, has left the country after cancelling meetings in Chicago.
Al-Hout was to have addressed the Chicago Council on-Foreign Relations and meet with editors of the Chicago Tribune. The Council said Tuesday that he had sent word to it that he had been called home while the Tribune said he did not explain his cancellation of his appointment with the paper. Al-Hout had met with as yet unidentified groups at Princeton, Columbia, Harvard and Yale, ostensibly, at their invitations. He also met with reporters at a breakfast in Washington.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). which has jurisdiction over the entry of aliens into the U.S., said that it granted a waiver for his entry at the State Department’s request. It provided for his entry for three weeks and he was to come here before April 3.
The INS told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that it does not keep tabs on visitors and it presumes that they will “engage in activities indicated with no deviation or extension of the visit without approval” of the Washington director of the INS. No such request has been made, the INS said.
The INS also said that “once admitted, he was free to travel wherever he pleased” in the U.S. But meeting with the Chicago Triune editors or addressing the Washington Press Club — not to be confused with the National Press Club — which reportedly sought to have him speak, would have been “deviations” of his visa conditions, the INS said.
The State Department has repeatedly contended that Al-Hout is not a terrorist by his own definition and that he opposed terrorism. However, the Department continues to refuse to say or indicate what when or where Al-Hout said he is opposed to terrorism. A number of major Jewish organizations condemned the State Department for giving its approval to Al-Hout’s entry.