The spiritual leader of the Lodi mosque who was arrested in a sweep earlier this month admitted to the FBI that when he was in Pakistan he gave speeches to Muslims urging them to fight Americans in Afghanistan in the months following the September 11 attacks.
However, in his immigration hearing on Friday, Shabbir Ahmed told a judge that “it was a requirement of all imams. If you don’t people turn against you. They sort of force you to say something.”
Ahmed, 39, a citizen of Pakistan, is fighting to stay in the U.S. after he being arrested two weeks ago in a sweep that also netted two men accused of having ties to the terrorist group al-Qaeda.
Ahmed was a student and then a teacher at the Jamia Farooqia, an Islamic university in Pakistan, during the 1990s. He came to the United States in January 2002 after he was recruited to be the imam at the Lodi mosque.