Monday, June 6, 2005

A 43-year-old Israeli-born Palestinian and naturalized U.S. citizen, described as a member of a suspected terrorist organization, was arrested yesterday in Falls Church by federal agents on a grand jury indictment charging him with fraudulently procuring U.S. citizenship.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Dean Boyd said Maher Amin Jaradat appeared at a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Poretz in U.S. District Court in Alexandria and was ordered detained. An arraignment is scheduled for Monday before U.S. District Court Judge T. S. Ellis III.

Mr. Jaradat was arrested by ICE and FBI agents assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), who also executed a search warrant at his Falls Church residence, Mr. Boyd said.

On May 17, a federal grand jury in Alexandria returned a one-count sealed indictment charging Mr. Jaradat with unlawful procurement of citizenship. The indictment, which has been unsealed, accused Mr. Jaradat of entering the United States in June 1988 as a visitor and later marrying an American citizen.

According to the indictment, Mr. Jaradat submitted an application for U.S. citizenship with immigration authorities in March 1995 and, in June 1995, appeared before immigration authorities to whom he swore under oath that the contents of the application were true, even though he knew the application contained false statements.

The indictment said Mr. Jaradat failed to disclose he had been a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) for 16 months beginning in 1980; that he had also studied bomb making and the use of small arms at a DFLP training camp in Syria; and that he had engaged in security duties in Lebanon.

It also said that Mr. Jaradat failed to disclose that beginning in 1981, he had also been a member of Al-Fatah, the military arm of the Palestinian Liberation Organization responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and airplane hijackings.

Mr. Boyd said Mr. Jaradat falsely asserted he had never been arrested, cited, charged, indicted, convicted, fined or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance, when, in fact, he had been arrested for assault and battery in Alexandria in 1990.

“Our citizens have a right to know if an immigrant to this country has been associated with terrorist organizations,” said U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty. “Catching and punishing those who enter this country under false pretense is a major element of our terrorism prevention strategy.”

The case was investigated by FBI and ICE agents assigned to the JTTF and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg and Special Assistant Heather Schmidt.

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