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The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) confirmed Tuesday that Israel is holding Fawaz Damra, the former imam of Ohio's largest mosque, who was deported last week by the US for alleged membership in Islamic Jihad.
Damra, 46, was arrested, the Shin Bet said, due to his suspected ties to the terror group. He is suspected of raising funds for Islamic Jihad as well as involvement in additional anti-Israel terror activity.
Damra was deported by American authorities last week because he concealed his ties to Islamic Jihad when he applied for American citizenship in 1994. Originally from Nablus, Damra was deported to Jordan after being incarcerated in Monroe County, Michigan, for a year while awaiting deportation.
He was arrested by Israel after he crossed the Allenby Bridge last week on his way to the West Bank.
His brother, Nabil Damra, said the Red Cross and the Center for the Defense of the Individual, an Israeli advocacy group for Palestinians, told him that Fawaz Damra was in custody and had been taken to Israel's al Jalameh detention facility near Jenin.
"Our biggest fear is that he might stand trial in Israel," said Don Bryant, Damra's friend and president of the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network. "This is a nightmare for him."
Damra was convicted in June 2004. At his trial, prosecutors showed video footage of Damra and other Muslim leaders raising money for an arm of Islamic Jihad.
He was imam at the Islamic Center of Cleveland. His attorney, Michael Birach, has said Damra was a victim of immigration officials who wanted to look tough after the September 11, 2001, attacks. Damra immigrated to the United States in the mid-1980s.
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