Israel's Shin Bit holding top imam deported by U.S.

Israel's Shin Bet internal security service admitted for the first time Tuesday that it's holding the former imam of Ohio's largest mosque, who has been deported by the United States last week.

Israel's Shin Bit holding top imam deported by U.S.

Fawaz Damra, 46, who served as the imam of Ohio's Islamic Centre of Cleveland, was arrested because of his ties to the Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian resistance group classified by Israel and the U.S. as a "terrorist" organization, the Shin Bet said.

No further details were provided.

The 46-year-old imam was convicted in the U.S. of hiding his ties to the Islamic Jihad when he applied for the American citizenship in 1994.

Last week, U.S. authorities finally deported Damra, originally from the West Bank city of Nablus, ending a legal battle that lasted for nearly two years.

He was then flown to Jordan after being incarcerated in Monroe County, Mich., for a year while awaiting deportation.

Damra crossed into the occupied West Bank last Thursday, and his whereabouts had not been disclosed, though his family asserted that he had been caught by the Israelis.

Damra, who immigrated to the U.S. in the mid-1980s, became involved in interfaith activities in his community after the September 11 attacks.

His lawyer, Michael Birach, had described him as a "bridge-builder" and a "healer" who had made a real contribution to religious understanding in the Cleveland area.

Birach called Damra a victim of federal officials who wanted to look tough after 9/11. "He was just a poster boy for the war on terrorism," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations has said the she found the deportation "difficult to accept".

"We have deep concern for the family and the three young daughters who are U.S. citizens and his wife, who did not get a chance to say goodbye," said Julia Shearson, director of the group's Cleveland chapter.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16