DETROIT – A Muslim leader from Ohio who was convicted of lying about his involvement with a group the U.S. government designated a terrorist organization has been deported to his native Palestinian territories, immigration authorities said Friday.
Damra, who served imam at Ohio's largest mosque, the Islamic Center of Cleveland, was deported on Thursday, said Tim Counts, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was flown to Amman, Jordan, then crossed to the West Bank.
A message seeking comment with his lawyer, Michael Birach, was not immediately returned.
Damra immigrated to the United States in the mid-1980s and is married with three U.S.-born children.
In Ohio, he had become involved in interfaith activities, particularly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. But soon after, a tape of a 1991 speech in Chicago became public in which Damra said Muslims should be "directing all the rifles at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation and that is the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews."
Damra apologized and said he made the remarks before he had any interaction with Christians and Jews.
At his 2004 trial, prosecutors showed video footage of him and other Muslim leaders raising money for an arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The State Department placed the group on its list of terrorist organizations in 1989.
Damra had been imam of a Brooklyn, N.Y., mosque in the mid-1980s that became a focus of fundraising for anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan. His replacement there, Omar Abdel-Rahman, was convicted in a 1995 foiled plot to blow up New York City landmarks.