CLEVELAND – A terrorist group’s manifesto and other items seized by the FBI in a search of an Islamic cleric’s home were taken in an illegal search and cannot be used at his trial, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge James Gwin, in a decision filed late Monday, ruled in favor of Fawaz Mohammed Damra, 41.
The Palestinian-born imam is accused of concealing ties to terrorist organizations when he applied for citizenship, which he received in 1994.
FBI agents searched his suburban Cleveland home without a warrant after his Jan. 13 arrest and seized a computer, copies of sermons and political speeches, the manifesto of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and stacks of financial records.
The agents said they had permission to search the home, but Damra’s wife, Nasreen, was instructed to go to the basement during the arrest, apparently because she was upset. The judge said her absence prevented her from finding out she had the right to ask them to leave.
Federal prosecutor James V. Moroney Jr. said the manifesto was the only item from the search that the government intended to use at the trial. He said no decision had been made on whether to appeal the judge’s ruling.
Prosecutors had said they wanted to use the manifesto to show the strength of Damra’s ties to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, suggesting only a high-ranking official would have a copy.
But the judge was skeptical, noting Damra might have such a document for his teaching duties at colleges in Cleveland.
UPDATE: Charles as LGF has a wealth of illuminating information about the Catholic dhimmi who is serving as an expert witness for Damra.