Mimi Hall, USA Today, May 1, 2008
Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the situation “embarrassing,” and some members of Congress vow to fix it.
The requirement applies to former South African leader Mandela and other members of South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC), the once-banned anti-Apartheid organization. In the 1970s and ’80s, the ANC was officially designated a terrorist group by the country’s ruling white minority. Other countries, including the United States, followed suit.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela, here in March, is on U.S. terrorist watch lists because of his ties to the African National Congress, which was listed as a terrorist group in the 1970s and 1980s. The group now governs South Africa.
Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., chairman of the House International Relations Committee, is pushing a bill that would remove current and former ANC leaders from the watch lists. Supporters hope to get it passed before Mandela’s 90th birthday July 18.
Members of other groups deemed a terrorist threat, such as Hamas, also are on the watch lists.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says “common sense” suggests Mandela should be removed. He says the issue “raises a troubling and difficult debate about what groups are considered terrorists and which are not.”