U.S. authorities took rare action Monday to strip U.S. citizenship from a man convicted in 2003 of terrorism-related charges related to an al Qaeda plan to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Justice Department filed a civil suit to revoke the naturalization of Iyman Faris, a Pakistan native, who is currently serving a 20 year prison sentence for providing material support to the terrorist organization. Authorities said Faris was targeted for revocation because of his terrorism-related conviction but the civil action was based on evidence that he lied during the course of the naturalization process - including fraudulently using another man’s passport when he initially entered the United States in 1994 and lying about the circumstances under which he entered the United States.
“The Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation will continue to pursue denaturalization proceedings against known or suspected terrorists who procured their citizenship by fraud,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler. “The U.S. government is dedicated to strengthening the security of our nation and preventing the exploitation of our nation’s immigration system by those who would do harm to our country.”
Revocation of an immigrant’s U.S. citizenship is rare, but allowed under the Immigration and Nationality Act if naturalization was “illegally procured or procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation,” according to the DOJ.
Faris previously admitted to traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan in late 2000 to meet with Osama bin Laden and other senior Qaeda leaders, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. When he returned to the United States in 2002, he investigated how blowtorches could be used to sever the Brooklyn Bridge suspension cables and sent updates back to al Qaeda operatives about the plan, finally telling them security was too tight around the bridge to carry out the attack.
Faris is scheduled to be released from prison in 2020, according to the Bureau of Prisons.