Syrian Al-Qaeda-linked leader freely visited the US, but State Dept. says it ‘didn’t know’
Labib al Nahhas, who calls himself “a chief of Foreign Political Relations at Ahrar al-Sham,” arrived in the US capital for a visit lasting a few days in December, according to McClatchy DC news. The report cites “four people with direct knowledge of the trip.”
As one of them told the network’s reporter, Nahhas arrived in the US to speak with “third parties” even though he would not elaborate further. The other speakers revealed a few more details about the visit, saying that Nahhas had been in Washington to meet with lobbyists and Middle East researchers.
Born in Madrid to a Syrian Muslim father and educated in the UK, Nahhas has been using his European roots to reach out to western officials on behalf of Ahrar al-Sham, a group which espouses a strict Salafist form of Sunni Islam and has fought in alliances with Al-Qaeda-linked fighters. In mid-May, Ahrar al-Sham admitted its involvement in a brutal raid at an Alawite Syrian village, reportedly alongside fighters from internationally-recognized terrorist group Al-Nusra Front.
RT asked the State Department’s spokesperson Mark Toner whether US officials were aware of that visit in December. He suggested his office did not know about it at all.
“I’m not sure that we were aware of it,” Toner replied. “I don’t believe he had any meetings here, certainly, but – and I can’t speak to visa records. It’s a privacy consideration, so I don’t have much detail I can share with you regarding whether
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