‘Humble Man’ is Free on Bail: Student Visa Requirement is Key to U.S. Government’s Case Against Sharon Spiritual Leader

November 22, 2006

Author: Lane Lambert

Source: The Patriot Ledger


BOSTON - Did he leave the United States as he was supposed to, or did he stay?

That 15-year-old question is at the heart of the government’s immigration case against Imam Hafiz Muhammed Masood, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of New England’s mosque in Sharon, who was detained last week.

During a bail hearing held yesterday in federal immigration court, where the 48-year-old cleric was freed on a $7,500 bond, a government attorney said Imam Masood ‘‘may not have left the U.S.’’ to return to his native Pakistan in 1991, as required by the student visa he used to enroll at Boston University in 1988. Government attorney Richard Neville said the imam got a traffic ticket here in 1992 when he was supposed to be back in Paskistan.

If that claim is proved, the cleric could be denied a new immigrant visa or green card, and deported to his native country some time next year.

Neville said the student-visa question ‘‘goes to the core of whether he should be allowed to remain.’’ But Imam Masood’s attorney, William Joyce of Duxbury, said in a Patriot Ledger interview that the case is based on ‘‘conflicting evidence,’’ including the traffic ticket.