- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An old accusation that the imam of the largest mosque in Portland, Oregon, encouraged local Muslims to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan has been revived by government lawyers seeking to strip him of his citizenship.

Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye told members of the so-called Portland Seven that they should join the fight and collected money for their travels, according to a court document filed by lawyers with the Justice Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation in Washington, D.C.

“Kariye was present when members of the Portland Seven left to go wage jihad, and he wished them good luck on their journey,” the filing says.

The Portland Seven case grabbed attention in the early days of the fight against terrorism. Then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced indictments in 2002, hailing the move as a defining day in the war.

The arrests were made on the same day John Walker Lindh was sentenced to prison for fighting for the Taliban.

Unlike Lindh, the Portland Seven never actually saw battle. The six male members traveled to China in late 2001 but failed to gain entry into Afghanistan. Most returned to the U.S.

Five of the six men eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and the one who did not return to the U.S. was killed in Pakistan. A woman who remained in Oregon and wired money pleaded guilty to money laundering. Sentences ranged from three years to 18 years.

It’s been more than a decade since the government first maintained that Kariye provided support to the group. The imam, however, has never been charged with any crime related to the claims.

Kariye’s lawyer, Nicole Nelson, declined comment on the specifics of the Portland Seven allegation.

She wants to have the citizenship case dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, saying the law requires the local U.S. attorney to bring the naturalization complaint, not the Washington, D.C.-based Office of Immigration Litigation.

“There isn’t anything new that they haven’t known about since 2001, 2002,” she said. “So why now after all this time?”

U.S. authorities filed the denaturalization lawsuit against Kariye in July. They allege he withheld required information from immigration workers in 1998.

The newest document states Kariye lacks the moral character to remain a U.S. citizen, and that his involvement with the Portland Seven shows he “was not well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States at the time of his naturalization.”

___

Follow Steven DuBois at twitter.com/pdxdub


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide