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Immigration officers carry pairs of handcuffs at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 12, 2014.    (REUTERS/Damir Sagolj) Immigration officers carry pairs of handcuffs at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 12, 2014. (REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)  

Moroccan arrested for bomb plot able to stay in US by lying to immigration officials

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

The Moroccan man arrested for allegedly planning to use remote-control planes to bomb a university building and federal building was able to remain in the United States by lying to immigration officials.

El Mehdi Semlali Fathi was able to avoid a final order of removal last year — after remaining in the country for seven years after his visa expired — by claiming a fear of persecution based on his political beliefs, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit.

“There is probable cause to believe, and I do believe that FATHI’s application for withholding of removal status was obtained by fraud,” Special Agent Anabela Sharp wrote in the affidavit obtained by The Daily Caller Tuesday. “The fraud included, but is not limited to, FATHI’s claims that he was repeatedly arrested by the Moroccan government and assaulted by government officials.”

Despite his claims of persecution, according to the FBI, there is no record that Fathi was ever arrested in Morocco.

“Moreover in his application for refugee status, FATHI claimed that the government of Morocco believed he was a member of an organization known as ansar El Mehdi and that while he was attending a university in Marrakech he participated in demonstrations and he (FATHI) was arrested in 2007 by the Moroccan government because the Moroccan government believed that he was a member of this organization … the Moroccan government, FATHI’s father, and FATHI’s own statements confirm that FATHI was never arrested or charged with a crime in Morocco, nor did he ever attend any university in Marrakech,” the affidavit reads.

The FBI’s Sharp concluded that based on the evidence, “there is probable cause to believe and I do believe that EL MEHDI SEMLALAI FATHI, in the District of Connecticut and elsewhere made false statements to a federal law enforcement agent in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001, has executed and submitted a false and frivolous asylum application in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1546, and has made repeated false statements under oath to an Immigration Judge in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1621.”

Fathi’s arrest comes about two months after the release of an internal government audit, which revealed that at least 70 percent of asylum applications in 2009 had signs of fraud.

In addition to his false application and statements to authorities, Fathi was also arrested — prior to his arrest for the alleged plot to bomb two buildings — for trespassing and theft in the United States while technically in the country unlawfully.

According to the affidavit, the FBI was able to record some of his phone calls, upon learning of his plot. Fathi got the idea to apply for asylum from a Nigerian national he met in prison and fabricated his story using information from the library about abuses by the Moroccan government.

“In one of the recordings, FATHI is clearly heard stating that the more he thinks about the case, he laughs because he cannot believe the judge believed him. FATHI stated that he worked on creating for his case for three months and studied all cases of asylum — not just in Morocco,” the affidavit reads.

The FBI says Fathi sought to bomb an educational university outside of the state of Connecticut and a federal building and courthouse in Connecticut.

A congressional aide reacted to the news by slamming the administration for its lack of immigration enforcement.

“Is it the Administration’s policy to wait until criminal illegal aliens are about to blow up a building before moving in?” the aide emailed TheDC.

FATHI Affidavit

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