Universities take another stab at hosting online event with terrorist hijacker

Leila Khaled (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP via Getty Images) • April 22, 2021 5:10 pm

Two California colleges are violating anti-terrorism laws by hosting an upcoming event with a convicted Palestinian terrorist, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.) informed the schools on Wednesday.

The University of California, Merced, and San Francisco State University will cohost on Friday a virtual Zoom event with Leila Khaled, a veteran member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terror group that has murdered Americans. Khaled, one of the PFLP’s most notorious faces, was the first woman to hijack a plane, once in 1969 and again in 1970. She was later freed from custody as part of a prisoner swap between the United Kingdom and the terror group.

Lamborn told University of California president Michael Drake and San Francisco State University chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz that the event violates federal laws barring Americans from providing material support to terror organizations, according to a copy of that letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

“The upcoming event is a travesty to any kind of legitimate academic inquiry, and, moreover, is illegal,” wrote Lamborn, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “The First Amendment protects freedom to express ideas, no matter how repugnant. It does not, however, protect providing services and equipment to terrorists and terrorist organizations.”

Pro-Israel groups have been exerting pressure on Zoom to cancel the event, but it is unclear if the video-conferencing company will comply with these requests. Lamborn’s letter is certain to increase pressure on both Zoom and the schools to further assess the situation and determine if it is worth potentially exposing themselves to prosecution. Lamborn’s letter was also sent to the Departments of Justice and Education, which could prompt an investigation into the event.

This is the second time in recent months that San Francisco State University has attempted to host Khaled for a virtual event. In September, Zoom canceled a similar event organized by the


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