Last week the US discussed
removing American bases, this
week it removed a consular official
A Saudi Arabian consular official in Los Angeles has had his diplomatic visa revoked by United States authorities without specific charges being made public.
An official source at the Saudi Embassy in Washington told Aljazeera that the embassy would seek clarification on the way Fahd Al-Sumairy was deported.
“The arrest took place in top secrecy. His colleagues at the consulate had tried to appoint a lawyer for him during interrogation but in vain,” the source said.
Arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Frankfurt last week, Fahd al-Sumairy was deported on Thursday, reportedly oblivious to the fact that his visa had been cancelled. He has also been banned from returning to the US for five years.
The Los Angeles Times cited an unidentified source as saying that a State Department communiqué specifically mentioned al Sumairy had "suspected affiliation with terrorists."
"He was placed on an international flight, destined for Riyadh", said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, but would not provide details on an alleged connection with terrorist groups.
Staff at the consulate in Los Angeles and the Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment. Neither the Department of Justice nor other public bodies would give more details either.
"I don't have any comment right now on that," a State Department spokeswoman said.
Al Sumairy had worked for the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles since 1996 and held a post in the Islamic and Cultural Affairs section of the consulate.
He was also the imam at the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, which has one of the largest Muslim congregations in the region. The mosque, built with financing from the Saudi government, was the target of an unsuccessful bomb attack by a member of the Jewish Defense League in 2001.
"He never dealt with politics, in his public comments or in private gatherings," said Tajuddin Shuaib, who directs the mosque, which is run by a nonprofit group.
"Like the rest of us, he was really shocked about September 11. He felt it was wrong and, in the long term, that it would harm Muslims. His impression was that it would have some bad repercussions," Shuaib said.
Since September 11, the US has increased scrutiny of visa applications from Muslim nations around the world substantially. The number of Saudis who received visas dropped nearly 70 percent in 2002 to about 14,100.