A terror-linked imam who previously was given permission to stay in the United States is facing a further battle, as an appeals court has returned the case to be re-evaluated.
The case against Mohammad Qatanani, the imam at the Islamic Center of Passaic County in New Jersey, is one of two in which Muslims are actively fighting plans by the United States to return them to their country of origin.
The second case involves a woman who was convicted of terrorist bombings in Israel and failed to mention that fact when she applied for and obtained permission to stay in America. A new trial is to be held in that case.
The reports on Qatanani come from the Investigative Project on Terrorism, which said the imam has been the subject of deportation efforts since 2006 when he was found allegedly to have failed to disclose his connections with Hamas when he applied for U.S. residency permission.
When he came to the U.S. he claimed he never had been arrested or belonged to any terror group.
IPT said the focus of a hearing this week was Qatanani’s October 1993 arrest and conviction by an Israeli military court on charges he provided support to Hamas.
He claimed Israeli authorities detained him but never charged him.
His case already has been up and down the administrative and judicial ladders, with a ruling from Immigration Judge Alberto Reifkohl in 2008 that he should be granted residency. However, the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals sent the case back to the judge after ruling he erred in discounting government evidence.
IPT reported that DHS attorneys uncovered two confessions that included statements from Qatanani about his Hamas links.
Chris Brundage, deputy chief counsel for the DHS, told IPT that the agency needs only to show that Qatanani had links to Hamas that he hid on his visa application.
He said it’s impossible for Qatanani to get around the fact he lied when he said he never was arrested.
The hearing is scheduled to resume next month.
In the second case, also documented by IPT, the dispute concerns Rasmieh Odeh, who was convicted of obtaining residency status after misleading officials about her convictions for terror bombings in Israel.
U.S. District Judge Gershwin A. Drain ruled Tuesday that there is no legal basis to prohibit Odeh from presenting testimony about her claim she suffered from post-traumatic stress when she applied for naturalization.
That was when she failed to disclose her Israeli conviction for two 1969 bombings in Jerusalem, IPT reported.
One of the bombings killed college students Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner.
Odeh alleges her confession was based on weeks of torture, but Israeli court records show she actually confessed when she was captured and then helped identify other operatives in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine group responsible for the terror attacks, IPT reported.
Such psychological testimony was not allowed during Odeh’s 2014 trial, so she will get another trial.