PLO terrorist who became US citizen faces deportation

Vallmoe Shqaire obtained US citizenship in 2008 but never told authorities he was convicted by Israel of trying to blow up a bus.

By ZACK EVANS
April 27, 2019 05:26
2 minute read.
A man enters the headquarters of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), in Ramallah Septembe

A man enters the headquarters of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), in Ramallah September 10, 2018. (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

Palestinian terrorist Vallmoe Shqaire was sentenced on Friday by a Los Angeles court to nine months in federal prison to be followed by deportation to Jordan, after it was discovered that he lied about his past in order to obtain US citizenship, according to a report from CNN.


The case was reminiscent of that of Rasmea Odeh, who succeeded in obtaining US citizenship even though she had been imprisoned by Israel for her role in two terror bombings, one of which killed two people.
The judge in Shqaire's case questioned how he was able to even enter the United States. Shqaire first came to the US in 1999, and federal authorities did not become aware of his terrorist background until after 2010. This means that authorities were unaware that a terrorist was living in the US for over 10 years, and that it took nearly a decade after his past was discovered before he was finally arrested.


Assistant US Attorney Annamartine Salick, the prosecutor for the case, said that information-sharing between countries was not as efficient at the time, which probably hindered the vetting process.


According to Salick, it took two years of work with Israeli officials to find records of Shqaire.


Documents from the court file of Shqaire, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, indicate that he was trained by the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the use of rifles and grenades, as well as in bomb-making. 


Shqaire and an accomplice tried to blow up an Israeli bus in 1988, according to the court records, though while they managed to detonate a bomb within range of a bus, the attack did not cause any injuries.


He was later caught by Israeli forces and given a ten-year prison sentence in 1991, but released after four years following agreements as part of the Oslo peace accords.


Shqaire would go on to assert that his confessions were coerced by the IDF as he was beaten during interrogations, and was subjected to alternately freezing or extremely hot showers and made to live in a small cell where it was impossible for him to stand up or stretch out his legs. US prosecutors wrote that his allegations were not supported by Israeli records.


Shqaire managed to enter the US on a visitor's visa in 1999, and proceeded to get married to a US citizen in order to obtain a green card. They divorced in 2002, but he remarried the same year, after which he was able to become a permanent resident. He never mentioned his previous arrest or any involvement with terrorist groups to immigration authorities.


In 2008, he recieved full US citizenship.


Over the following decade, federal authorities investigated Shqaire for suspicious money transfers to Ramallah in the West Bank. While he was never charged in connection with these transfers, he was eventually convicted in a different context of credit card fraud, was jailed for four months and placed on five years' probation.


However, investigations continued into his past, and he was charged in October 2018 for unlawful procurement of US citizenship.


It seems that because he obtained citizenship the investigation into Shqaire was made more difficult, because he enjoyed Constitutional protections.


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