Federal prosecutors on Tuesday initiated legal action to strip U.S. citizenship from a naturalized immigrant who illegally funneled charitable donations to a designated foreign terrorist.
In a civil action filed federal court in Missouri, prosecutors alleged that Sudanese native Mubarak Ahmed Hamed lied about his illegal activities on his application for naturalization and in an interview with immigration authorities. U.S. law allows the government to strip citizenship from people who naturalize under false pretenses.
Hamed used his position as the CEO of the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA) to divert tax-exempt donations from the organization’s account to parties overseas in violation of U.S. sanctions, according to the complaint. Hamed moved more than $1 million from 1997 through 2000 to an account in Jordan controlled by Khalid Al-Sudanee, knowing that Al-Sudanee would transport the funds into Iraq.
As Hamed was applying for U.S. citizenship in 2000, he continued to funnel money to Al-Sudanee. During a naturalization interview in May 2000, Hamed denied ever having engaged in criminal activity for which he was not arrested, according to the complaint.
The U.S. Treasury Department named Al-Sudanee as a specially designated foreign terrorist in 2004.
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A federal grand jury indicted Hamed in October 2008 on 41 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Iraq sanctions. In his plea agreement, Hamed admitted to illegal financial transactions going back to the period before he naturalized, according to the complaint.
Hamed came to the U.S. on a student visa and gained permanent residence through the green card lottery, according to immigration authorities. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said his case illustrates the need to end the program in favor of a merit-based approach to immigration.
“Under the guise of running a non-profit to assist in the famine crises in Africa, a ‘Diversity Visa’ recipient allegedly transferred funds on a regular basis to a known terrorist, undermining our nation’s lawful immigration system, public safety, and national security,” Sessions said in a statement. “Immigration is a national security issue, and a merit-based immigration system would better serve our national interest because it would benefit the American people.”
Under Sessions, the Department of Justice has prioritized high-profile civil denaturalization cases against people who lied about material facts while applying for citizenship. Most recently, DOJ filed denaturalization lawsuits in November against five people who allegedly concealed child sexual abuse crimes they had committed prior to naturalizing.
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