Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Imam Wagdy Ghoneim 'leaving' to Qatar or Bahrain- US Immigration: "We can't just sit around and wait for people to blow up buildings"
Imam Wagdy Ghoneim 'leaving' to Qatar or Bahrain- US Immigration: "We can't just sit around and wait for people to blow up buildings"
Algerian in San Diego who met with 2 of the 9/11 hijackers being deported- US "said to mull lifetime terror -suspect detentions "
January 1, 2005
MIM: The American Muslim organisations supporting Wagdy Ghoneim include CAIR and the head of the LA office, Hussam Alyoush who is also quoted in the article below defending Ghoneim . It is worth noting that at the end of the article Ghoneim's wife says " we came to this country for free speech"...
Promoting anti-Semitism. The head of CAIR's Los Angeles office, Hussam Ayloush, routinely uses the term "zionazi" when referring to Israelis. CAIR co-hosted an event in May 1998 at which an Egyptian militant Islamic leader, Wagdi Ghunaym, called Jews the "descendants of the apes." http://www.danielpipes.org/article/394
A Muslim cleric suspected of terrorist ties agreed Tuesday to leave the country rather than fight a legal battle with immigration officials.
"I came to this country in peace," Imam Wagdy Mohamed Ghoneim said during a court hearing at which the deal was struck. "I did not come here to scare anybody."
Ghoneim, whose case has drawn widespread support from Muslims in Southern California, agreed to leave by Jan. 7 for Qatar or Bahrain, where he holds visas, in exchange for his release. His family, including his wife and seven children, also must leave. U.S. Immigration Judge D.D. Sitgraves approved the agreement, which bars Ghoneim's return for 10 years.
The government alleges that Ghoneim, who came to the U.S. in 2001 from Egypt, participated in fundraising activities around the country that could have helped terrorist organizations, said Bill Odencrantz, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director of field legal operations.
Ghoneim has not been charged with terrorist activity, however. Instead, he was arrested at his Anaheim home Nov. 4 on suspicion of overstaying his religious-worker visa. He was charged with the immigration violation, Odencrantz said, "because it was the easiest charge to prove."
"Frankly, our task is not to sit around and wait for people to blow up buildings," Odencrantz said. "Our task is to look at situations and circumstances and take action against people."
Since his arrest, Ghoneim has been held at the federal detention facility in San Pedro.
On Tuesday, Ghoneim was in court to seek release on bond. But he faced questioning from Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorney Elena Kusky, who quizzed him about speeches he has made, his opinion of suicide bombers and about teachings in the Koran.
Ghoneim's attorney, Valerie Curtis-Diop, called the government's line of questioning a "fishing expedition."
"It's outrageous that they can arrest and detain someone with no real evidence," Curtis-Diop said. "These are the efforts the government thinks they need to take to find terrorists, but they're attacking the wrong people."
Curtis-Diop said Richard Garcia, assistant director-in-charge of the L.A. office of the FBI, testified at an earlier hearing that the FBI did not have an interest in Ghoneim and did not request that he be detained.
More than 100 of Ghoneim's supporters, many of them members of the Islamic Institute of Orange County, where he serves as the imam, braved heavy rain and gusty winds Tuesday morning to protest his detainment.
After the hearing, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, criticized the government's aggressive pursuit of the imam.
Ghoneim's case is part of a disturbing trend, which Ayloush described as "the selective application of laws on Muslims, especially on minor violations; the targeting of Muslim travelers at airports; the revoking of visas of Muslim visitors coming to the United States."
The government, for example, this year revoked visas of the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam, and Swiss scholar Tariq Ramadan, who was scheduled to teach at the University of Notre Dame.
Many supporters said they agreed with Ghoneim's decision to leave voluntarily but expressed sadness that the government believed he might be helping raise money for terrorists.
And some said they no longer believed that the U.S. supported freedom of speech and religion.
"I am very sad today," said Ghoneim's wife, Somaia. "When we came to the United States, we came for freedom, for free speech."
MIM:In 1998 Ghoneim managed to weasel his way out of Canadian immigration custody and was brazen enough to demand financial compensation because he claimed that had made him look like "a criminal and a terrorist" (!)
Jan. 12, 1998
Egyptian Cleric Seeks Apology, Damages from Canada
TORONTO, Jan 12 (Reuters) - A Muslim cleric held for nearly 24 hours and strip-searched at the Canadian border demanded a formal apology and financial compensation on Monday from the Canadian government.
"I must retain my image, honor and character and my position as a scholar of Al-Azhar University," said Imam Wagdy Abdel Hamid Mohamed Ghoneim, 47, who is also a senior accountant in the Egyptian finance ministry.
"What happened to me makes me look like a criminal and a terrorist," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. An imam is a religious figure who leads prayers in mosques.
Ghoneim was detained and strip-searched by Canadian officials as he crossed the border into Windsor, Ontario, from neighboring Detroit last Wednesday on his way to a speaking engagement in Toronto.
A report in the Windsor Star newspaper on Saturday quoted Gerald Belanger, manager of Canada's immigration port entry operations, as saying Ghoneim was held on suspicion of being a member of Hamas, a Palestinian extremist organization.
Belanger declined comment when reached by Reuters. Ghoneim was released on Thursday after a meeting with immigration and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) officials and returned to Detroit, said Patrick Ducharme, the Windsor-based lawyer who is representing him.
Ducharme told Reuters he understood that immigration officials detained Ghoneim because he gave conflicting information to immigration officials and a visa officer at the Canadian consulate in Detroit.
He said one immigration official told him they had put the wrong last name, Mohamed, in the database and had come up with the wrong person.
"They (Canadian immigration) can take the high road and apologize, or they can try and cover their tracks," he said.
Other immigration officials were not immediately available to comment on the incident.
Ghoneim, who was on a 20-day lecture tour of the United States, speaks to Muslim communities around the world. He said his detention by Canada jeopardized his chances of getting visas to other countries.
"That's why I insist on an apology -- to make it clear that it was not my fault," he said. "It was a mistake."
The Muslim Arab Youth Association, which arranged Ghoneim's tour in the United States and Canada and retained Ducharme, said it had not asked Egyptian diplomats for help.
"We view this as an issue between us as Canadians and our government," said Hussein El-Hennawy, the executive director of the group's Canadian chapter.
News of the detention aroused anger among Muslims in Canada and the United States.
"A man of God should be respected, not humiliated," said Arafat El-Ashi, director of the Toronto branch of the Saudi Arabian Moslem World League. "This is disgusting to the Muslim community, it's an insult."
Ghoniem flew back to Egypt from Detroit on Monday, but has applied for another visa to visit Canada.
MIM: The world according to Wagdy Ghuneim
He had also referred to Jews as "monkeys" and "pigs" during a Brooklyn College conference of the American Muslim Alliance on May 24, 1998.
Before leading the audience in anti-Jewish verse, Ghuneim said: "The Jews distort words from their meanings. ... They killed the prophets and worshipped idols.
Speaking about suicide bombings that took place in Israel in 1996: "Those young people who explode themselves to kill the Jews were not committing suicide but jihad," Ghuneim said, "They are mujahedeen because there is no way to struggle and fight the Jews except that way. Allah bless those martyrs."
On May 24, 1998, for example, CAIR co-sponsored an incendiary rally at Brooklyn College that featured speakers spouting anti-Jewish rhetoric. One speaker was Wagdy Ghuneim, a radical cleric from Egypt. He told listeners, "Allah says he who equips a warrior of jihad is like the one makes jihad himself." He led the audience in a song with the lyrics: "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes." http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=meetuhf.htm
MIM: 'Khalifornia Dreaming' Wagdy Ghoneim was a speaker at this conference in 2003 - Islam: Today California - tommorrow the world...The event was co sponsored by CAIR and attended by it's director, Nihad Awad. One of the participants was Al Subahaily of the Institute for Islamic and Arabic Science in Virginia which was raided by the FBI a few months ago.
26 December 2003, Friday. First Annual Islamic Convention "Saving Our Families" Continues on 27 December 2003, Saturday. Location: Nob Hill Center, 1111 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94108. Time: 11:00 AM to 10:45 PM Speaker(s): Dr.Jamal Badawi, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Sheikh Wagdy Ghoneim, Dr.Zulfiqar Ali Shah, Dr.Suhail Ghanoushi, Dr. Muhammad Radman, Sheikh Alaa' Aldeen Mansour, Dr.Ali Suliman, Sheikh Safwat Morsy, Dr.Abd Alhakeem Jackson, Imam Suhaib Webb, Dr.Ahmad Saker, Dr.Ihsan Bagby, Imam Amen Al Saidi, Dr.Abdullah Idrise, Dr.Ahmed Azzam, Dr.Ismail Azoun, Imam Saadiq Saafir, Mohammed Abu Ratib. International Speaker(s): (invited) Yusuf Islam, Dr.AbdulBasit Said, Al Muqri'a Al Idresy, Sheikh Mekdam Alhadry, Harun Yahyah. Ticket: 3 Day Pass - $10/Individual $25/Family. Organized by: Alsabeel- Masjid Noor Al Islam. Contact: For more information, please call 415-292-9707 or fax 415-292-5209 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sfislamicconvention.org. Babysitting will be provided. Halal meals will be available for purchase. Parallel sessions, special programs and activities for youth and women. Bazzar open all day at the exhibition hall.
Algerian who knew two Sept. 11 hijackers deported from San Diego
SAN DIEGO - A man who met with two Sept. 11 hijackers before they crashed an American Airlines jet into the Pentagon has been deported from San Diego to Algeria, the Department of Homeland Security said Friday.
Samir Abdoun, 38, was arrested 11 days after the 2001 attacks and convicted of immigration and passport violations and Social Security fraud, according to Homeland Security.
He had met with hijackers Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar, according to Homeland Security, and lived in San Diego with four men who were arrested as material witnesses in the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 77.
Abdoun met the two hijackers for coffee several times but was never arrested as a material witness, said Lauren Mack, a department spokeswoman. He told federal agents that he was not friends with them, she said.
"He moved in the same circles as the 9/11 hijackers," said Ron Smith, field office director for detention and removal operations in San Diego.
Armed federal agents escorted Abdoun onto a commercial flight Thursday in San Diego and he arrived Friday in Algeria, where authorities took him into custody, Mack said.
Abdoun entered the United States in August 1998 by presenting a false French passport in Los Angeles, Homeland Security said. Border Patrol agents first arrested him in November 1998 at a checkpoint on Interstate 5 in San Clemente, but he failed to appear at deportation proceedings.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration is preparing plans for possible lifetime detention of suspected terrorists, including hundreds whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
Citing intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials, the newspaper said the Pentagon and the CIA had asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for those it would not set free or turn over to courts at home or abroad.
As part of a solution, the Defense Department, which holds 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, plans to ask the U.S. Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence, defense officials told the newspaper.
The new prison, dubbed Camp 6, would allow inmates more comfort and freedom than they have now, and would be designed for prisoners the government believes have no more intelligence to share, The Post said.
"It would be modeled on a U.S. prison and would allow socializing among inmates," the paper said.
"Since global war on terror is a long-term effort, it makes sense for us to be looking at solutions for long-term problems," Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, was quoted as saying. "This has been evolutionary, but we are at a point in time where we have to say, 'How do you deal with them in the long term?"'
A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke of the Air Force, had no information on the reported plan.
The Post said the outcome of a review under way would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations.
One proposal would transfer large numbers of Afghan, Saudi and Yemeni detainees from the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center into new U.S.-built prisons in their home countries, it said.
The prisons would be operated by those countries, but the State Department, where this idea originated, would ask them to abide by recognized human rights standards and would monitor compliance, a senior administration official was quoted as saying.