- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 25, 2001

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service yesterday arrested Mazen Al-Najjar, whom the government described as having "established ties to terrorist organizations," in Tampa, Fla.
"The arrest is based on a final order of deportation recently upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, Ga. Al-Najjar was ordered deported because he "violated his visa and was ineligible for any form of relief from deportation," the Justice Department said in a statement.
Al-Najjar entered the United States from Gaza in 1981 and overstayed his student visa. A former instructor at the University of South Florida, he was jailed for more than three years after U.S. authorities accused him of supporting terrorist groups.
The evidence was kept secret for reasons of national security. Last December, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered him released from jail, after a federal judge in Miami ruled that he had been denied due process because the government did not share the classified evidence with him.
In its statement yesterday, the Justice Department said Al-Najjar "held leadership positions in the Tampa-based Islamic Concern Project (ICP) and the World and Islam Studies Enterprise."
The Justice Department described those groups as "front organizations that raised funds for militant Islamic-Palestinian groups, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas."
Two weeks ago, the Justice Department asked the federal appeals court to overturn the May 2000 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lenard that found the INS had violated Al-Najjar's constitutional rights.
The Nov. 15th decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for his deportation, Al-Najjar's lawyer told reporters after the ruling. But the lawyer, David Cole, also said he would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block his client's deportation.
In its announcement yesterday, the Justice Department said the appellate court's affirmation of the deportation order against Al-Najjar gave the INS authority to take him into custody and proceed with removing him from the United States. "His current detention is not based on classified evidence," the department said.


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