Court rejects US efforts to strip terrorist citizenship

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The government can’t strip a terrorist of their AMERICAN citizenship, a federal judge ruled this month in a decision, together with a Pakistan born man who, in the last few years with a 20-year prison sentence for his guilty plea to plotting to destroy New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.

The case involves Iyman Faris, who was sentenced in 2003 for abetting al-Qaeda by the scoping of the bridge as part of a plot to cut through cables that support it. His case was one of the first and highest-profile terrorism cases after Sept. 11 attacks.

Faris met with Osama bin laden in Afghanistan and worked with Sept. 11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, although some critics questioned how realistic the plot was, given the post-Sept. 11 security in New York.

A court filing last year in the U. S. District Court in the southern Illinois argued that Faris lied on immigration papers for becoming a naturalized citizen of the u.s. in 1999, and that his terrorist connections has shown that a lack of commitment to the U.S. Constitution.

“The U.S. government is dedicated to … the prevention of exploitation of our nation’s immigration system by one which is harmful for our country,” Chad Readler, deputy assistant attorney of the Department of Justice civil division, said in a statement at the time.

The government filed in Illinois because Faris was imprisoned there. He has now been moved to the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Faris, who is 49, was also known as Mohammad Rauf before he became a U.S. citizen, employed as a truck driver in Columbus, and was married to an American woman for a while. He is scheduled for a release Dec. 23, 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Federal Judge Staci Yanle said this month there is not enough evidence to Faris’ representations of issues that affect the decision to grant him citizenship.

“American citizenship is precious, and the government bears a heavy burden of proof upon an attempted transfer of a citizen of his or her citizenship,” she wrote on 11 July.

The Ministry of Justice declined to comment.

One of the many objections of Faris’ lawyer, is that the government action violated the terms of the 2003 plea agreement, which was never the possibility of denaturalization, or deportation.

“We look forward to defending this case,” Chicago lawyer Thomas durkin said. “It is an incorrect decision of the government to go further on this way.”


Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter

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