Source Pravda.Ru

Imam accused of terror ties to leave U.S.

World

A mosque leader accused of having ties to terrorism has reached a deal with the U.S. government that will allow him to settle in one of four countries or the Palestinian territories, officials said Thursday.

&to=http://english.pravda.ru/culture/2001/12/11/23362.html' target=_blank>Imam Fawaz Damra, who faced deportation hearings in U.S. immigration court, will end up in Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Egypt or the Palestinian territories, said Greg Gagne, a spokesman for the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Damra, the leader of Ohio's biggest mosque, was convicted in June 2004 of concealing ties to alleged terrorist groups when he applied for U.S. citizenship a decade earlier. His conviction wasn't enough to warrant deportation because he has legally lived in the United States for five years.

Immigration officials have been seeking to remove him on charges that he raised funds for terrorist organizations.

A judge has approved the agreement between Damra's lawyers and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which will make the final determination on where Damra ends up.

Matt Albence, deputy special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigations in Detroit, would not say where Damra is headed and said it will take some time to arrange flights and prepare travel documents. Until Damra leaves, he will remain in federal custody, Albence said.

Damra, is the imam, or spiritual leader, at the Islamic Center of Cleveland. Haider Alawan, a Damra supporter and member of the Islamic center's council of elders, said Damra could not afford to fight his case any further.

"He's resolved to the fact that you'd have to have unlimited resources to prove his innocence," Alawan said. "How far can you go without putting the family in a bad situation?"