- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Palestinian man who was part of a 2015 riot, clashing with Israeli soldiers, was charged Wednesday with fraudulently procuring a visa and trying to enter the U.S. on false pretenses.

Customs and Border Protection officers say the 19-year-old man, Waad Alzerei, has ties to Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, both of which are designated by the U.S. as terrorist organizations.

Mr. Alzerei was stopped at Boston’s Logan International Airport late last month after arriving on a flight from Cairo, via Paris.

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He said he was in the country to get medical treatment and showed a visa. But Customs and Border Protection officers stopped him near baggage claim and determined he was lying about the nature of his injuries.

He said he was wounded in the leg by stray Israeli gunfire while picking olives near the Gaza border, and his leg was amputated.

But the CBP officers, using the broad powers the government claims to search phones and other electronic devices at ports of entry, pored through Mr. Alzerei’s cellphone and found photos of him taking part in a terrorist group attack on Israeli soldiers on the day he was shot.

One photo, including in Wednesday’s court charging documents, shows Mr. Alzerei in the motions of using a sling to hurl a large rock at the Israelis. Another photo shows him with his face concealed, standing over a pile of burning debris, also apparently on the battlefield.

“That is me in the black and yellow,” he told the officers, according to transcripts of his CBP interview.

He then admitted he’d lied about his visa application and lied to the CBP officers who first approached him at the airport.

Alzerei told the CBP officers that he lied because he did not want to get arrested by the Israelis, and also because he knew he would not get a U.S. visa if he told the truth about his activities on October 23, 2015,” Brian Goldsworthy, a special agent at Homeland Security Investigations, wrote in a court affidavit filed Wednesday.

Alzerei had obtained a visa in October 2016, lying about the circumstances of his injury. He then came to the U.S., successfully, in 2017, where he was fitted for and provided a prosthetic leg.

Given his age now, he would have been a juvenile at the time of that first entry.

The government’s ability to search electronic devices at border crossings, airports and seaports has been controversial in recent years, as the number of such searches has increased.

Wednesday’s charges could give authorities something to point to as they fend off criticism about the necessity of the powers.

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