* Winds of Jihad featured Qantanani Â on several occasions, Â and how his supporters beleagered the courthouse for weeks and months to excert pressure on the judiciary. It seems to have had the desired effect: the creep got his residence permit.
Popular Passaic County cleric can stay in U.S.
byÂ Amy Ellis Nutt/The Star-Ledger
A U.S. immigration judge has granted permanent residency to a prominent Passaic County Muslim leader accused of ties to Palestinian militants.
“I believe in the justice system,” Mohammad Qatanani said after learning the decision.
(Of course he does. That’s why he wants to replace it with sharia…/ed)
Qatanani, 44, was accused of lying on his application to become a permanent U.S. resident when he failed to disclose an alleged 1993 conviction in an Israeli court for assisting Hamas militants.
U.S. Immigration Judge Alberto J. Riefkohl handed copies of his decision to Qatanani’s lawyer, Claudia Slovinsky, and immigration officials shortly after 1 p.m. Slovinsky flipped to the end of the 69-page ruling, then turned toward Qatanani and smiled.
The imam’s dozen or so supporters in the courtroom burst into cheers. Some wept. Qatanani, wearing a white robe and holding prayer beads, hugged his lawyer.
Prosecutors will consider an appeal, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Harold Ort. The have 30 days to file, he said.
Qatanani, the imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, has been in this country for more than a decade. During that time, civic and government officials have hailed his outreach to other religious leaders.
During testimony in June, the cleric denied he was ever a member of Hamas or that he made a confession to that effect to the Israelis. In fact, during his three months in police custody in Nablus on the West Bank, he says he was never told he’d done anything illegal.
“The judge’s decision is a victory not only for the imam — but for all men of good will,” said Aref Assaf, president of the Denville-based Arab American Forum.
Terror claims against NJ Muslim leader rejected
NEWARK, N.J.:Â An influential New Jersey Muslim leader accused by some federal officials of having terrorist ties but praised by others as being an important ally won his fight to gain permanent U.S. residency Thursday.
A federal immigration judge in Newark ruled that Mohammad Qatanani, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, can remain in the U.S.
The ruling brought cheers, tears and applause from about a dozen Qatanani supporters who gathered in the courtroom.
“I would like to thank the judge for working hard in this case,” Qatanani said. “This is a beautiful thing. The justice system in this country is great.”
U.S. immigration authorities had sought to deport Qatanani on grounds that he failed to disclose on his green card application a prior arrest and conviction in Israel for being a member of Hamas Â— a group classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Qatanani has denied being a Hamas member and said he was detained, not arrested, by the Israelis while traveling to his native West Bank in 1993. He said he was not notified of the charges against him or his conviction and that he was mentally and physically abused while in detention.
In ruling for Qatanani, immigration Judge Alberto J. Riefkohl questioned the reliability of the records submitted by the Department of Homeland Security purporting to show Qatanani’s arrest and conviction in Israel. The judge called the U.S. government’s case against Qatanani “patently incomplete,” and found its two key witnesses Â— both federal agents Â— to not be credible.
Riefkohl also noted that Qatanani has received support from U.S. law enforcement officials. One supporter, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, was among several high-ranking law enforcement officials who attended a Ramadan fast-breaking celebration at the Paterson mosque.
“My view is he’s always had a very good relationship with us, and he’s a man of great goodwill,” Christie said Wednesday before exchanging traditional cheek-kiss greetings with Qatanani and wishing him well.
Qatanani’s lawyer, Claudia Slovinsky, said she hoped the ruling would send a message to government officials that they should not wield terrorism accusations lightly.
“The government does not believe we can have a Muslim imam who truly is what he says and appears to be,” she said. “In addition to being a well-deserved victory, it goes beyond Dr. Qatanani, because it tells the government our judicial system doesn’t rely on prejudice and discrimination, as they have urged.”
Harold Ort, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said after the hearing that the government has not yet decided whether to appeal.
The 44-year-old Palestinian has served as the imam, or Muslim religious leader, since 1996 at the mosque in Paterson, a city that is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the region. Thursday’s decision means that Qatanani, his wife and their three foreign-born children are granted legal permanent U.S. residency and will eventually be eligible for American citizenship.
His immigration fight garnered national attention for the unusual spectacle of high-ranking law enforcement officials taking the stand on his behalf.
Christie, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark office, county prosecutors, sheriffs and the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security praised Qatanani and mosque members for helping to build bridges with law enforcement in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
During Qatanani’s immigration hearing, Jewish, Catholic and Episcopalian leaders testified that they viewed him as a moderate Muslim leader dedicated to interfaith outreach. Hundreds of his supporters kept a vigil outside the courthouse during his trial, which began in early May.
Qatanani emigrated from Jordan in 1996 on a religious worker visa to lead the New Jersey mosque. He applied for permanent U.S. residency in 1999 for himself, his wife and the three of their six children who were not born in America.
In 2005, he initiated a meeting with immigration officials to inquire about the delay in his green card application, during which he told them about his detention in Israel. U.S. officials later received documents from Israel that claimed he had been arrested and convicted.
Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sought to portray Qatanani as a terrorist-affiliated Muslim activist, quoting a sermon he gave at the Paterson mosque in which he called Israelis “transgressors” and questioning his ties to his brother-in-law, a convicted Hamas terrorist who was killed by the Israelis.
Government lawyers also said Qatanani had been an outspoken university leader during his student days in Jordan.
The judge found no credible evidence linking him to terrorism and wrote that family ties to a convicted terrorist do not make someone a terrorist.
Comment by Hugh:
immigration Judge Alberto J. Riefkohl questioned the reliability of the records submitted by the Department of Homeland Security purporting to show Qatanani’s arrest and conviction in Israel. The judge called the U.S. government’s case against Qatanani “patently incomplete,” and found its two key witnesses — both federal agents — to not be credible.”
— from a posting above
The only thing that is “incredible” here is an immigration judge, one Alberto J. Riefkohl, woh finds the Department of Homeland Security records not credible — either Qatanani was or was not arrested and convicted in Israel, and it’s not hard to check — and who makes the curious remark that the case against Qatanani is “patently incomplete” (what does that mean?) and finds “its two key witnesses — both federal agents — to not be credible.”
It is Riefkohl whose record needs to be examined, to see if on other cases he exhibits such hostility and suspicion of Federal authorities, and such naivete about Islam. And the same goes for Christopher Christie.
I’ll repeat again here what I’ve suggested many times: special courts are needed, in all such cases involving either terrorism or other weapons of Jihad, with judges who have been made very familiar with the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmospherics of the…well, let’s call it the “ideology of Jihad” and avoid the word “Islam” if we must.
Such courts are set up for cases involving tax law, and patent law. Some subjects are simply too complicated for judges and prosecutors. All cases involving identifiable threats, physical threats, and threats to undo our legal and political insitutions, including a steady assault on the key provisions of the First Amendment, arising from a political ideology “connected to an identifiable ideology” should be sent to courts where that “identifiable ideology” will have been studied by those judges, and everyone else involved in the case.
It has to come to that. The series of trial-court missteps, with people who pose an obvious danger managing to get off because of the ignorance or naivete or parti-pris of judges, or of even more confused juries, makes clear the need for such special courts.
Posted by: HughÂ Â atÂ September 5, 2008 10:53 AM
The right to peacefully assemble is not absolute, any more than the right of free speech is absolute. There can be, have been, limits placed on demonstrations — for example, on demonstrations outside of abortion clinics.
The courts — and the Supreme Court — have been ordinarily solicitous of the right to peacefully assemble, and that includes sidewalks across from courthouses — see Cox v. U.S. — and attempts to limit the kind of signs one carries, for example, outside the Supreme Court have been struck down (U.S. v. Grace).
On the other hand, disruption and riot have been held to be legitimate reasons for the police demanding that certain demonstrations be disbanded.
Here we have a new situation. What is that new situation? It is the systematic attempt, by large numbers of Muslims, to show up, and to intimidate by numbers and by the ferocity of the demonstration, jurors and judges. No statement is being made about politics; in size and scope this amounts to sheer intimidation. And it is systematic.
I hope that there will be legislation forbidding this kind of thing, and then let it be challenged in the courts, and percolate upwards to the Supreme Court where, I have hope, intelligent war-time limits — there is a war being conducted against our legal and political institutions, and that includes our legal and political institutions.
And that war, a war to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then ultimate dominance, of Islam, includes efforts by the American government to enforce its own immigration and naturalization laws, and certainly would include an attempt to prevent any future efforts to intelligently strip of citizenship those who were perjuring themselves when they took an oath of allegiance to the American Constitution.
The unrandom, systematic, well-organized attempt to show up at courthouses where every so-called “pillar of the Muslim community” brings suit in an attempt to defy American justice, and to throw a spanner into the works, constitutes a campaign, and there are ways that should be attempted to limit those who are so hell-bent on using our liberties to undo those very liberties.
Let the laws to intelligently limit, in such cases, such courthouse behavior, be passed — and then let the constitutional challenges be brought.
We’ll see what limits, in the case of such a sinister, widespread, and systematic effort to undo our ability to defend ourselves against those whose loyalty is not to, and cannot be to, the Constitution but is, rather, to Islam and the Umma, the Supreme Court is willing to accept, and what reject.
It’s a good subject — a subject that requires, however, that one understand the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam, and of how Islam, or rather the Holy Law of Islam, the Shari’a, in spirit and letter flatly contradicts the American Constitution. That understanding should not be difficult, if one is willing to study, and not simply refuse to consider the textual and historical evidence.
Posted by: HughÂ Â atÂ May 12, 2008 10:18 AM