Deported imam arrested upon arrival in W. Bank, brother says

Fawaz Damra, head of Ohio's largest mosque, concealed his aid to Islamic Jihad when he applied for citizenship in 1994.

ohio imam 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
ohio imam 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The former imam of Ohio's largest mosque, who was deported to his native West Bank last week, was arrested by Israeli authorities after crossing from Jordan, his brother said Monday. Fawaz Damra, 47, had been jailed in Monroe County, Michigan, for a year while awaiting deportation for concealing his aid to Islamic Jihad - classified by the US as a terrorist group - when he applied for US citizenship in 1994. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced his removal on Friday. His brother, Nabil Damra, said Monday the Red Cross and the Center for the Defense of the Individual, an Israeli advocacy group for Palestinians in the PA territories, told him that Fawaz Damra was in custody and had been taken to the Al Jalameh detention facility in Israel, the West Bank town of Jenin. IDF and security officials had no comment, and a Red Cross official in Jerusalem said he did not know of the case. Nabil Damra, speaking through a translator by phone from the West Bank, said: "He was arrested the moment he arrived to the border." A lawyer had been hired for his brother, he said. "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." Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore said Damra was flown to Jordan on Thursday and handed over to Palestinian authorities at the Allenby Bridge, which connects Jordan to the West Bank. If Damra had been arrested, Palmore said, Palestinian - not US - authorities must have handed him over to Israel. 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 Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Damra immigrated to the United States in the mid-1980s.