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Friday, June 18, 2004

Palestinian Leader of Ohio's Largest Mosque CONVICTED

file photo: Fawaz Damra
Charged with lying about connections to terrorist organizations
Newsday/AP: AKRON, Ohio -- The Palestinian-born leader of Ohio's largest mosque was convicted Thursday of lying about his connections to terrorist organizations when he applied for U.S. citizenship.

Fawaz Damra, imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, showed no emotion as the verdict was read in federal court. He could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, stripped of his citizenship and deported for providing false information to become a citizen in 1994.

Prosecutors claimed that Damra, 41, concealed ties to Afghan Refugee Services, the Islamic Committee for Palestine and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, groups the government classifies as terrorist organizations.

Prosecutors showed video footage of Damra raising money for an arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has been listed as a major terrorist group by the State Department since 1989.

Fawaz Damra, second from right, imam of the Islamic Center
of Cleveland and his wife, Nasreen, second from left, are
escorted from the federal building Thursday, June 17, 2004
in Akron, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Jurors also were shown footage in which Damra called Jews "the sons of monkeys and pigs" during a 1991 speech and said "terrorism and terrorism alone is the path to liberation" in a 1989 speech. . . .

Damra's attorneys asked Judge James Gwin to acquit their client based on what they called insufficient evidence. The judge said Thursday he would rule on that and other post-verdict motions within 15 days. Damra was allowed to remain free on bond while awaiting sentencing, set for Sept. 9.