Imam Fawaz Damra (PBS)
Imam Fawaz Damra, the Cleveland cleric and erstwhile media darling as a famous “moderate” Muslim, now stands accused of lying about his ties to terrorist groups. And today he is in more hot water. From AP:
CLEVELAND – A Muslim cleric accused of hiding terrorist ties is now the subject of a federal investigation into his finances, according to court documents.
Fawaz Mohammed Damra, who already is charged with lying about his ties to terror on immigration forms, could be charged with tax evasion, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, according to documents filed Tuesday by federal prosecutors.
Damra, 41, leader of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, has pleaded innocent to a charge of obtaining U.S. citizenship by providing false information. He is accused of having ties to several terrorist groups, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and concealing those affiliations when he applied for citizenship.
If convicted in the trial scheduled to begin June 15, Damra could lose his citizenship and be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Prosecutors revealed the financial investigation of Damra while explaining in a memo to U.S. District Judge James Gwin how they plan to use evidence seized in a search of Damra’s home in suburban Strongsville in January.
Authorities seized a computer, copies of sermons and political speeches, the manifesto of the terrorist Palestinian Islamic Jihad and stacks of financial records in the search.
The “speeches, sermons, notes and articles are in many respects critical, inflammatory, and inciting toward the U.S., U.S. policy, the state of Israel and to Israelis and Jewish people in general,” federal prosecutor James V. Moroney wrote in the memo.
Damra’s lawyers want Gwin to exclude the evidence seized from the cleric’s home. They said Damra’s wife, Nasreen, consented to the FBI search at the time but was so upset by her husband’s arrest that her judgment was clouded. The lawyers also say the search was illegal because it went beyond the scope of an arrest warrant.