Federal prosecutors led by a Department of Justice (DOJ) official appointed by President Donald Trump have filed a civil lawsuit to strip illegally-procured American citizenship from a man who pleaded guilty to an al-Qaeda-linked plot to attack New York nearly 14 years ago.
“Iyman Faris, a native of Pakistan, is currently serving a criminal sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois for conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, al Qaeda, and for providing material support to al Qaeda,” notes DOJ in a press release.
“The Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation will continue to pursue denaturalization proceedings against known or suspected terrorists who procured their citizenship by fraud,” proclaimed Acting Assistant Attorney General (AG) Chad Readler, who submitted the lawsuit along with Donald Boyce, the U.S. attorney for southern Illinois.
“The U.S. government is dedicated to strengthening the security of our nation and preventing the exploitation of our nation’s immigration system by those who would do harm to our country,” added Readler, a former lawyer for Trump’s presidential campaign.
Assistant AG Readler and U.S. Attorney Boyce filed the lawsuit against the Pakistani jihadist on Monday.
Court documents showed that the terrorism convict Faris met Osama bin Laden and the September 11 ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in late 2000.
Trump administration officials moved to file “a rare denaturalization lawsuit against Iyman Faris, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for conspiring to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge,” reports the Guardian.
“Faris, a 47-year-old Pakistan native who worked as a truck driver in Columbus, Ohio, is accused of illegally obtaining citizenship in 1999 by falsely swearing allegiance to the U.S.,” it adds.
In the civil complaint, the federal prosecutors argue that the jihadist’s ties to al-Qaeda are a testament to his unwillingness to defend and support the U.S. Constitution as he vowed to do when taking the naturalization oath of allegiance to the United States.
“I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” reads the oath of allegiance for naturalized American citizens.
U.S. authorities also accused the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist of failing to disclose his association to jihadist groups in Bosnia and Pakistan.
Moreover, he illegally entered the United States in 1994 using another man’s passport and also failed to disclose that he participated in military combat in the Muslim-majority disputed region of Kashmir and Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The civil complaint alleges that Faris entered the United States fraudulently by using another’s passport that he willfully misrepresented the circumstances under which he entered the United States on subsequent applications for immigration benefits, and that he twice testified falsely to obtain immigration benefits.
Additionally, the complaint alleges Faris lacked the required attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution at the time of his naturalization, as proven by his 2003 federal conviction for providing material support to al Qaeda, a designated terrorist organization.
The Immigration and Nationality Act grants the U.S. government the authority to revoke a naturalized American citizen’s citizenship if the naturalization was illegal obtained by concealing fact or by willful misrepresentation.
“It is important to ensure the path to legal naturalization remains secure and free of fraud,” declared U.S. Attorney Boyce. “When people enter the United States, immigrate, and later become citizens, all done through fraud and misrepresentation, their unlawful actions harm the integrity of our immigration system.”
“Prosecutors in Oregon are seeking a similar denaturalization against Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye, the imam of what is said to have been Portland’s biggest mosque, for alleged ties to a jihadist plot. The court case, which began in July 2015, is ongoing,” notes the Guardian.