CHICAGO – Muhammad Salah, a suburban Chicago man who fought off charges he supported Hamas, has died. He was 62.
Salah died Sunday of complications from cancer, Dr. Zaher Sahloul, a member of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, told the Chicago Tribune. Services were held later that day.
A Palestinian native and U.S. citizen since 1979, Salah was classified as a "specially designated terrorist" by the U.S. Treasury Department in the 1990s. He was imprisoned in Israel for 4 1/2 years after $95,000 was found in his East Jerusalem hotel room that police said was to bankroll terrorism.
Salah, who contended the money was for humanitarian purposes, pleaded guilty to charges of providing support to Hamas extremists. His lawyers said the confession was coerced by days of sleep deprivation and physical abuse. He was released in 1997.
Salah was tried and acquitted in 2007 of racketeering conspiracy for his alleged support of Hamas. However, he was convicted of obstruction for lying under oath about the fatal Hamas shooting of an American teenager in a 1996 drive-by shooting on Israel's West Bank. A federal judge sentenced him to 21 months in prison.
Despite being acquitted of the terrorist charges, Salah couldn't get a job, pay rent, buy groceries or obtain medical care without approval from the U.S. Treasury Department for a time. Salah worked as a grocer and car dealer.
"Brother Salah was not wealthy. He did not hold positions. He was not a doctor, lawyer, politician, businessman or community leader, but he was an exemplary simple man," Sahloul told the newspaper.
In 2012, Salah was removed from the "specially designated terrorist" list after he filed a lawsuit contending U.S. government monitoring of his economic transactions was unconstitutional.
Salah is survived by his wife, Maryam, five children and a grandchild.