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Ohio Cleric Arrested; Terror Link Is Cited

New York Times, USA
Jan. 14, 2004
Eric Lichtblau • Wednesday January 14, 2004

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 A leading Islamic cleric who runs Ohio’s largest mosque was arrested Tuesday on charges that he concealed his ties to terrorist causes when applying for citizenship to the United States a decade ago.

The cleric, Fawaz Mohammed Damrah, has been an outspoken figure who represented Muslims in Cleveland in interfaith gatherings after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but was also forced to apologize for anti-Semitic and incendiary statements he made years earlier.

In an indictment unsealed Tuesday, Mr. Damrah, who officials said is a Palestinian by birth, is accused of lying to immigration officials about his association with terrorist groups when he applied for American citizenship in 1993. He also denied engaging in religious persecution “when in fact he had previously incited and/or assisted others, including terrorist organizations, that advocated the persecution of Jews and others by means of violent terrorist attacks,” the indictment said.

Mr. Damrah pleaded not guilty in federal court in Cleveland and was released on bond. Officials declined to discuss the evidence in any detail. He faces up to five years in prison and possible deportation if convicted.

The F.B.I. questioned Mr. Damrah, 41, after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing about his association with a Brooklyn mosque where several of the plotters gathered, and he has also associated with prominent Islamic figures like Sami Al-Arian, the former Florida professor who was indicted last year on charges of supporting terrorism.

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