Accused Dallas terrorist Aynan Sabri Ismail took the stand in federal court and swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
“I love this country,” the bearded Kuwaiti-born Palestinian told U.S. Immigration Judge D. Anthony Rogers during a hearing earlier this month. “It’s been good to me and this is where my family is. I want to build a peaceful, decent life for them. I just want to be a normal, decent person.”
At stake for Ismail in the nearly empty Dallas immigration court was deportation to Jordan or a chance to prosper in America with his wife and five children, all citizens.
Despite professing love for his adoptive country, the 34-year-old illegal immigrant who came on a college student visa in 1988 now faces imminent expulsion, labeled a dangerous terrorist by the U.S. government. This week, Ismail decided not to appeal Judge Rogers’ decision to reject an application to stay.
“He’s not going to be in this country. He’s not going to be acting as a sleeper. He’s not going to be raising funds in this country,” said Carl Rusnok, spokesman for the Dallas bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “He’s going to be out of this country where he’s not going to do us direct harm.”
Ismail’s lawyer, John Wheat Gibson, said his client’s deportation is part of a government agenda by a “small group of anti-semitic thugs” to rid the country of Muslims.
“They’re fanatic,” Gibson said of the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who argued against Ismail’s application to stay. “They’re fundamentalists. They’re just like Hamas.”
Government lawyers, under pressure to use any legal means to rid the nation of perceived dangerous elements, put on evidence they said showed Ismail served as a top fundraiser for the banned Richardson-based Holy Land Foundation. President George Bush dubbed the organization a clandestine fundraising arm of Hamas and froze its assets in November, 2001.
Government lawyers said that from 1996 through 2001 Ismail had to have known that the money he raised for the nation’s largest Muslim charity was going to the families of Hamas suicide bombers, providing “martyrs” with an incentive and comfort to attack Israeli civilians.