Now here’s a twist: Majid al-Massari is charged with various ties to Al-Qaeda, but he is fighting deportation to Saudi Arabia on the grounds that his father supports Osama’s desire to overthrow the House of Saud, and that therefore he will be tortured and killed there. So he is asking the United States to protect an Al-Qaeda sympathizer.
From the Seattle Times, with thanks to Anthony:
To his co-workers at the University of Washington School of Nursing, Majid al-Massari was a happy guy who bounced down the halls and seemed like a “big teddy bear.”
What his friends didn’t know about the burly, bearded 34-year-old computer-security specialist was that he had helped set up a Web site for a group linked to al-Qaida, quoted Osama bin Laden in his own Internet postings, lashed out against American policies on his father’s London-based radio show and had landed in the sights of U.S. terrorism investigators.
Now the Saudi national is being targeted for deportation, but immigration officials say it’s not because he’s a terrorist. Instead, they cite a nearly 2-year-old misdemeanor drug conviction that, under immigration law, is considered an “aggravated felony” and the basis for deportation.
In response, al-Massari is seeking asylum in the United States, claiming he would be tortured in his home country because his father, a prominent bin Laden supporter, has openly called for the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy and has praised terrorist attacks against Saudi and Western targets. The son’s hearing, which is closed to the public, began earlier this month in Seattle and will continue, after a break, in February.
While his friends and former co-workers rally for his release, al-Massari awaits his fate in federal detention near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. In his deportation case in Immigration Court, federal lawyers have filed thousands of pages of pleadings, including posters of bin Laden, that focus not on al-Massari’s crack-cocaine conviction but on his father and his al-Qaida connections.
Majid al-Massari has not been charged as a terrorist. His Seattle attorney, Cheryl Nance, said his case is “purely guilt by association.”
There is nothing in the government’s filings that leads her to believe her client is anything more than a Muslim with unpopular opinions about America’s role in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, she said.
Nance thinks the U.S. and Saudi governments are targeting the senior al-Massari and “using my client as bait.” Al-Massari, through Nance, declined to be interviewed.