Lebanese officials will investigate how the United States managed to dump former USF adjunct professor Mazen Al-Najjar into their country before it decided whether to grant him a six-month tourist visa, the Agence France Presse reported .
Sami Al-Arian, Al-Najjar’s brother-in-law, was informed of the plans to leave the stateless Palestinian in Beirut Monday by the French news service.
Al-Najjar was escorted by Immigration and Naturalization Service agents on Thursday by a corporate jet to Bahrain. However, when officials in Bahrain learned Al-Najjar was on the jet, they refused to accept him. The flight was redirected to Ireland to refuel and later landed in Italy where he had to stay on board the jet for more than 24 hours.
“We told American authorities to put him on a commercial flight to Bahrain,” Al-Arian said. “He would have been able to go just like everyone else. He had a legal visa.”
Al-Arian said he was told the publicity generated from Al-Najjar’s search for a permanent home caused Bahrain’s refusal to accept Al-Najjar and worried the Lebanese authorities.
“The Lebanese government is a bit nervous about his stay,” Al-Arian said. “They just sneaked his plane into the airspace there and dumped him off there.”
Now the Lebanese government wants to summon the U.S. ambassador and pass on a rejection of Al-Najjar’s deportation, according to a report released on Monday from the Associated Press.
“If a human cannot have a country, and they just dump a stateless Palestinian there in front of the world, then it looks like any stateless Palestinian could do the same,” Al-Arian said. “They want him out because of all the publicity.”
Al-Najjar hopes to relocate to South Africa, where he has been offered a job to teach at a Muslim school. His wife, Fedaa, is awaiting travel documents from Egypt so she can reunite her three daughters with their father. Al-Arian, a suspended USF professor who is under federal investigation for alleged ties to terrorism, said Fedaa plans not to comment on the details of her travel documents because she fears that publicity from the media will generate a last- minute visa refusal to join her husband.
Al-Najjar, who is living with his sister, Hala Al-Najjar, and her family in Beirut, has been asked not to comment on the investigation. Al-Arian said his brother-in-law was happy to have finally found freedom, even though his family is wary of what will happen next.
“It is because of all the arrogance,” Al-Arian said. “There has been too much publicity, and it has been hurting his chances to get a permanent home.”