Israel Arrests Muslim Cleric Deported by U.S.

January 9, 2007

Source: Beliefnet

JERUSALEM, Jan. 9 - Israel arrested the former imam of Ohio's largest mosque after he was deported from the United States last week, the Shin Bet internal security service said Tuesday, ending a four-day mystery about his whereabouts.

Fawaz Damra, 46, was arrested because of his ties to Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group classified by Israel and the U.S. as a terror organization, the Shin Bet told The Associated Press. It gave no other details.

Smadar Ben-Natan, the Israeli attorney retained by Damra's family to represent him, said Damra was being held at the Kishon prison facility in Israel. She planned to see her client on Wednesday.

Damra, a Palestinian originally from the West Bank city of Nablus, was deported by American authorities last week because he concealed his ties to Islamic Jihad when he applied for American citizenship in 1994. However, relatives waiting for him to enter the West Bank from Jordan on Friday said he never showed up.

"We waited for him all day and he didn't come," said Nabil Zamra, the imam's brother. "He is not an extremist and we don't understand why he was arrested."

"My mother is crying. Our house is sad. My father, who is 83, is waiting for his son. We pray that my brother will come home and see his father before he dies," he said.