JANUARY 05, 2007
A popular Muslim leader long defended by the nation’s largest civil liberties organization is finally being deported for concealing his strong ties to the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Fawaz Damra was convicted last year in Cleveland federal court of lying to immigration authorities, during naturalization proceedings, about his ties and fundraising ventures with Palestinian terrorist groups. He was also stripped of his coveted United States Citizenship but the U.S. could not find a country to take Damra until his native Palestine finally agreed this week.
Described as an innocent and peaceful man by his numerous Muslim supporters, Damra was the Imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, Ohio’s largest mosque. He preached about interfaith brotherhood and Islam’s peace but he raised money for groups that recruited and funded suicide bombers.
In fact, Damra founded a militant group in Brooklyn’s Little Arabia section that spawned violence, sponsored military training and peddled weapons. The world’s most powerful and radical Muslim leaders passed through Damra’s so-called Alkifah Center, including Osama bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam.
When federal agents began investigating Damra, cries of discrimination were immediately launched. The American Civil Liberties Union jumped on the bandwagon, filing a court brief challenging a Justice Department and FBI probe that monitored Damra’s communications. Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act the FBI intercepted nearly 21,000 hours of phone calls and faxes that proved crucial to the case.
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