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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Cleveland Imam Fawaz Damra deported to PA released by Israel despite terror ties- CAIR claims media campaign helped

Cleveland Imam Fawaz Damra deported to PA released by Israel despite terror ties- CAIR claims media campaign helped

January 26, 2007

MIM: Moderate friends of terror at CAIR pat themselves on the back for getting Damra deliberately ignoring the fact that their efforts had no influence on the United States court decision to deport Damra and would been of no consequence in Israel.

To imply that CAIR had any influence on the Israeli decision to release Damra is another example of their disinformation strategy.

The publicity gave CAIR another forum in which to take a swipe at the United States, the country which the Saudi funded front group for Hamas "and defendent in a 9/11 terrorism lawsuit which aims to make Islam the dominant religion in the United States claims that by Damra's arrest by the Israelis "was not the American way".

Isam Zaiem, chairman of the Cleveland office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says he's "cautiously optimistic" and "hopes for the sake of his family" that Damra will be released. He believes the intense pressure in the U.S. media and from the public played a role in Damra's release.

He deplores the fact that the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they were deporting Damra to the PA, but instead handed him over to the Israeli government.

"This is not the American way," says Zaiem. "I expect our government to provide everyone with due process and the rule of law. When we start to sneak behind the rule of law, we should start worrying about this country that we love and care for."

Israeli Judge orders Damra's release on bail http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/articles/2007/01/25/news/local/ccover0125.txt An Israeli military-court judge on Tuesday ordered the release of Imam Fawaz Damra, former spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Cleveland. He has been detained in an Israeli prison near Haifa for almost three weeks.


His release was delayed, however, because Israeli authorities asked, as is their right, for 72 hours to consider whether or not to appeal the judge's decision, says Damra's Israeli attorney Smadar Ben-Natan. According to Mo Abdrabboh of Dearborn, Mich., Damra's American attorney, Israeli security officials told Ben-Natan on Wednesday that they do not intend to appeal the judge's order.

Military courts almost always err on the side of security, says Abdrabboh. The fact that a military judge ordered Damra's release is significant, the Michigan lawyer says. "I am cautiously optimistic he's going to be released by Friday morning."

The judge set Damra's bail at 10,000 shekels (about $2,300), a normal bail in this situation, Ben-Natan says. In his decision, the judge said interrogation led to "no progress" regarding evidence to further detain Damra, Ben-Natan notes.

ordered Damra's release is significant, the Michigan lawyer says. "I am cautiously optimistic he's going to be released by Friday morning."

The judge set Damra's bail at 10,000 shekels (about $2,300), a normal bail in this situation, Ben-Natan says. In his decision, the judge said interrogation led to "no progress" regarding evidence to further detain Damra, Ben-Natan notes.

"It seems like this is moving to the end," she told the CJN in a phone interview from Israel. "This means the Israelis have no evidence against him. He presents no danger."

While in Kishon prison, Damra was not harmed in any way, Ben-Natan says. He was interrogated for only three days. After that, Israeli agents most likely relied on information from collaborators in his cell, before concluding there was no basis to continue to detain him, the Israeli human-rights attorney adds.

Once Damra is released, theoretically he could be detained again for interrogation, or he could be charged with a crime, Ben-Natan says. But if no further proceedings take place, in a few months the bail money will be returned to him.

Damra was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 2004 for not disclosing his ties to terrorist groups on his citizenship application. He served two months in prison for the immigration offense and spent over a year in a Michigan jail awaiting deportation.

During his trial, the prosecution showed jurors several hours of videotape in which Damra is raising funds for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), before it became a federal crime to do so. In one tape, Damra exhorts his audience to murder Jews, whom he calls "the sons of monkeys and pigs." PIJ has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings and attacks which have killed over 100 Israelis.

The government never charged Damra with providing material support to a terrorist group, although he appears to be an un-named, unindicted co-conspirator in a 2003 terrorism indictment.

After the Palestinian Authority agreed to take him, Damra was flown to Jordan. On Jan. 4, he was transported to the West Bank's border with Israel. He thought he was being deported to the PA. But at the Israeli border checkpoint, Shin Bet, the Israeli security service, arrested him.

During her arguments to the judge, Ben-Natan says she emphasized that Damra was not charged in the U.S. for anything related to terrorism, but only convicted on an immigration offense. Everything he did or said was many years ago, and the statute of limitations for these alleged offenses has passed, she argued.

Isam Zaiem, chairman of the Cleveland office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says he's "cautiously optimistic" and "hopes for the sake of his family" that Damra will be released. He believes the intense pressure in the U.S. media and from the public played a role in Damra's release.

He deplores the fact that the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they were deporting Damra to the PA, but instead handed him over to the Israeli government.

"This is not the American way," says Zaiem. "I expect our government to provide everyone with due process and the rule of law. When we start to sneak behind the rule of law, we should start worrying about this country that we love and care for."

mkarfeld@cjn.org
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467820523&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull Deported imam denies ties to Islamic Jihad
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
A Palestinian cleric deported from the US insisted Friday he never had ties to a radical Islamic group and says he has reformed. Fawaz Damra, 46, the former spiritual leader of Ohio's largest mosque, was convicted in the US in 2004 of concealing in his citizenship application ties to groups the American government classifies as terrorist organizations. Damra, who says he is innocent of the charges, was stripped of his citizenship and deported to his native West Bank earlier this month. There, he was turned over to Israeli authorities who imprisoned him for three weeks. He was released on Thursday after a military court determined it did not have sufficient evidence to hold him on charges of ties to Islamic Jihad. "I was never a terrorist," Damra said from his parents' home in Nablus on Friday. "I was always a man of peace who wanted to speak to people of other faiths and hear what they had to say." http://www.israelnationalnews.com/article.php3?id=6872 Israel's New Public Enemy #1 by Fred Taub
January 25, 2007

Imam Fawaz Damra, who the FBI calls a threat to US national security, was deported from the US to Palestinian Authority controlled areas in Judea and Samaria, a.k.a. the West Bank, via Jordan. While crossing into Israel, Damra was detained by the IDF, questioned, and then released by Israeli courts claiming there is not enough evidence to detain him further.

The fact is that Damra is a very dangerous man, the FBI calls a threat to US national security. Considering that Damra is more of a threat to Israel than he ever was to the US, and that Damra will be in position to take a direct role in leading terrorist attacks on Israel, the decision to allow Damra to roam free will surely be remembered as a low point in Israeli history.

Damra was found guilty in the US of lying about his past on his US immigration form, hiding his links to terrorist organizations and persecuting Jews. The case centered on video taped sermons in which Damra openly called for Jihad against the "sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews." These tapes were sent across the US to incite violence and raise money for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Other charges and allegations against Damra include a link to Osama Bin Laden, a counterfeiting operation at mosque he led in Brooklyn, working with Sami al-Arian to raise money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, money laundering, funding families of suicide bombers, and obstructing an FBI investigation,

Damra also associated with both El Sayyid Nosair, who murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane and was involved with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as well as with the "Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman.

While all this was going on, Damra was meeting with local Jewish community leaders, charming them with rhetoric of peace and then simultaneously calling for their deaths in his Arabic sermons.

Thus, Israel has granted the terrorists a new ideological leader, one with instant credibility specifically because he was deported from the US and held for questioning by the IDF.

Damra will easily gather an instant following in PA controlled areas, and will be able to raise large sums of money to support terror via his network of worldwide supporters. Damra will also be able to make and distribute as many video tapes as he wants with impunity.

Whatever knowledge and experience Damra has in counterfeiting from his Brooklyn mosque days is an additional threat to Israel. The FBI showed Damra printed currency inside his own mosque, but the details appear classified by the US. As such, we do not know exactly what Damra knows about counterfeiting, but considering the PA's financial situation, and their desire to destroy Israel's economy, such skills and knowledge are likely be appreciated by the Abbas and PA.

On the international stage, while the PA's welcoming of Damra is not a violation of the Oslo accords, it is likely Damra will become a catalyst for incitement to violence, which is a violation of Oslo. Additionally, Damra may have aspirations of surpassing the fame of his old friend Osama Bin Laden, if not his deeds.

Israel, however, has done more than just free an emerging terror leader. By allowing the PA to grant asylum to Damra following his deportation, Israel has de-facto granted the PA the ability to take part in international sovereignty and border treatiesórights that only sovereign nations have.

Thus, Israel has once again granted more authority to the PA than it has to itself with limited home-rule authority of Jewish cities in Judea and Samaria.

Israel failed to deny a border crossing privilege to a known threat, allowing Damra to freely roam where he poses an obvious threat to international peace and stability. So far, the only thing Israel has not done to welcome Damra is send him a dozen roses. The best we can hope for now is that Israel keeps a close eye on Damra, to say the least.

Fred Taub is a boycott consultant and is the President of Boycott Watch (www.boycottwatch.org) which monitors and reports about consumer boycotts, and Divestment Watch (www.divestmentwatch.com) which exposed the illegal nature of the divest-from-Israel campaign as well as why divestment is bad for the US and is anti-peace.

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