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."