- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

DETROIT (AP) — A Muslim leader from Ohio who was convicted of lying about his involvement with a group the U.S. government designated a terrorist organization has been deported to his native Palestinian territories, immigration authorities said yesterday.

Fawaz Damra, 46, was convicted in June 2004 of concealing his ties to Palestinian Islamic Jihad when he applied for U.S. citizenship in 1994.

Damra, who served as an imam at Ohio’s largest mosque, the Islamic Center of Cleveland, was deported Thursday, said Tim Counts, spokesman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He was flown to Amman, Jordan, then crossed to the West Bank.

A message seeking comment from his attorney, Michael Birach, was not immediately returned.

Damra, who emigrated to the United States in the mid-1980s, is married with three U.S.-born children.

In Ohio, he had become involved in interfaith activities, particularly after the September 11, 2001, attacks. But soon afterward, a tape of a 1991 speech in Chicago became public in which Damra said Muslims should be “directing all the rifles at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation and that is the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews.”

Damra apologized, saying he had made the remarks before he had any interaction with Christians and Jews.

At his 2004 trial, prosecutors showed video footage of him and other Muslim leaders raising money for an arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The State Department had placed the group on its list of terrorist organizations in 1989.

Damra had been the imam of a Brooklyn, N.Y., mosque in the mid-1980s that became a focus of fundraising for anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan. His replacement there, Omar Abdel-Rahman, was convicted in a 1995 foiled plot to blow up New York City landmarks.

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