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Paterson, NJ - Judge: Muslim Leader Can Stay in U.S.

Published on: September 4, 2008 02:36 PM
By: AP
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During a lunch break of his immigration trial,  Imam Mohammad Qatanani (center) Paterson, NJ - An influential New Jersey Muslim leader whom U.S. authorities had sought to link to a terrorist group and have deported has won his fight to gain permanent U.S. residency.

A federal immigration judge ruled today that Mohammad Qatanani, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, can remain in the U.S.

The 44-year-old Palestinian has served as the imam, or Muslim religious leader, since 1996 at the mosque in Paterson, a city that is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the region.

U.S. immigration authorities had sought to deport Qatanani on grounds that he failed to disclose on his green card application a prior arrest and conviction in Israel for being a member of Hamas — a group classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Qatanani has denied being a Hamas member and said he was detained, not arrested, by the Israelis while traveling to his native West Bank in 1993.


In 2005, he initiated a meeting with immigration officials to inquire about the delay in his green card application, during which he told them about his detention in Israel. U.S. officials later received documents from Israel that claimed he had been arrested and convicted.

A 71-page written decision issued by immigration Judge Alberto J. Riefkohl called the U.S. government’s case against Qatanani “patently incomplete” and found its two key witnesses — both federal agents — to not be credible.”
Their testimony is tainted by the lack of an accurate record and their inconsistent and contradictory testimony,” Riefkohl wrote.

Qatanani emigrated from Jordan in 1996 on a religious worker visa to lead the New Jersey mosque. He applied for permanent U.S. residency in 1999 for himself, his wife and three of their six children who were not born in America.

Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sought to portray Qatanani as a terrorist-affiliated Muslim activist, quoting a sermon he gave at the Paterson mosque in which he called Israelis “transgressors” and questioning his ties to his brother-in-law, a convicted Hamas terrorist who was killed by the Israelis.

The judge found no credible evidence linking him to terrorism and wrote that family ties to a convicted terrorist do not make someone a terrorist. He said testimony in support of the imam from U.S. law enforcement officials made his application credible.

His immigration fight garnered national attention for the unusual spectacle of high-ranking law enforcement officials taking the stand on his behalf.

The story gained national attention when a prominent New Jersey rabbi took the stand to defend the imam and ask the judge to let him stay.

Both parties have 30 days to appeal the ruling.

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Read Comments (10)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 04, 2008 at 02:46 PM avi Says:

Scary all around!!!


 Sep 04, 2008 at 03:08 PM Anonymous Says:

I hope the govt. appeals & gets a judge who isn't a FOO (Friend of Obama) or a bleeding heart liberal.


 Sep 04, 2008 at 03:20 PM Anonymous Says:

obama could take him now for vice president


 Sep 04, 2008 at 03:29 PM yoli Says:

i bet the judge was threatened by his henchmen


 Sep 04, 2008 at 04:25 PM Bryna F. Says:

There is no indication to state this this guy was bad or evil.


 Sep 04, 2008 at 04:55 PM McCain-Palin 08 Says:

Bryna says the state has no indecation that the guy is bad or evil.

hmmmmmmmmmm how about the fact that his sermons are hateful and anti semetic.........


 Sep 04, 2008 at 06:47 PM Tzoorba Says:

The Bush prosecution record on radical Muslims is absolutely atrocious. They have lost every major case and every minor case and even Sami Al Arian was recently let out.

Bush is creating a radical Muslim country in Iraq while allowing us to be overrun and overtaken by radical Muslims here in America.

Cair gives guidelines to the FBI, CIA and the Pentagon.

A major Muslim expert was fired from the Pentagon because some shmoiger named England asked his friend Hashem Islam (another radical Muslim) what to do.

We strongly need rachamei shomaim. We need to to do teshuva, mispallel and work on our bitachon in Hashem because America is not being protected by its leaders at all.


 Sep 04, 2008 at 08:19 PM Vote McCain - Palin In 08! Says:


It is very difficult to get anything good accomplished with left leaning judges on the bench. I would not blame it on the president at all. These left wing wakko judges were appointments of previous presidents.


 Sep 04, 2008 at 10:41 PM Avrohom Abba Says:

Good news !
You know why?
He will ow be so paranoid!
There will not be even one word that this rasha writes or speaks that will not be recorded or televised.
The man is now in a government run wide open prison. He will not know who to trust.
The man is walking around but he is in prison.


 Sep 05, 2008 at 09:56 AM Anonymous Says:

To Bryna:
No evidence? Here are some facts:
1)Qatanani was a speaker at an Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) conference in Chicago on November 27, 1999. IAP is no longer an active organization, but for years it was a central player in Hamas' U.S. support network. In a 2001 memo, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service identified IAP as "part of Hamas' propaganda apparatus." In the summer of 2007, the Dallas trial charging the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) with providing material support for Hamas produced extensive evidence that IAP played a central role in the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee, shorthand for Hamas' U.S.-based infrastructure.

2)He is in favor of supporting families of suicide bombers.
3)He has publicly prayed for Hamas members who were in court.
4)He has condemned all christians to eternal hell.
5)He claims all of Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine (including Israel) as "Muslim land," and that fighting to conquer these lands is a divine commandment...

hmm... not so bad?!


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