On Thursday, the Department of Justice filed a motion with a federal court to revoke the naturalized citizenship of a native of Sudan. According to the DOJ, Mubarak Ahmed Hamed first entered the United States on an F-1 student visa and became a lawful permanent resident through the diversity visa lottery program. He has been charged with violating sanctions imposed against Iraq under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), as well as obstructing Internal Revenue laws, from 1997 through July 21, 2000 -- the date of his naturalization.
Serving as Executive Director of the non-profit Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA), Hamed regularly authorized and transferred tax-exempt funds from IARA accounts in the United States to an account in Jordan controlled by Khalid Al-Sudanee, a/k/a Khalid Ahmad Jumah Al-Sudani, knowing that Al-Sudanee would take the funds to Iraq. Both Al-Sudanee and IARA were designated a”Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) in 2004 by the federal government. At the time, IARA was implementing projects funded by the United States through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Hamed pleaded guilty in2010 to conspiring to illegally transfer more than $1 million to Iraq in violation of federal sanctions, and to obstructing administration of the laws governing tax-exempt charities. He was sentenced to four years and 10 months in federal prison on January 11, 2012.
On Jan. 16, 2018, DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint “Section 11 Report,” which focused on the current immigration system and how it can be used to undermine national security and public safety. The report revealed inter alia that nearly three out of every four individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between Sept. 11, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2016 were foreign-born.
“This alleged denaturalization case is indicative that America needs this reform to our broken immigration system now more than ever. 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,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “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.”
“The defendant has pleaded guilty to despicable crimes, including the funneling of money to a known terrorist organization, from 1997 through his naturalization as a U.S. citizen in July 2000, all while conveniently failing to disclose his nefarious activities," said Thomas Homan, Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "Plain and simple, if you defraud the U.S government during the naturalization process, you risk having your citizenship revoked.”
“Every visa decision is a national security decision that affects individual Americans. We commend the work of the Department of Justice and look forward to continued coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence and law enforcement communities to protect our nation’s borders,” said Assistant Secretary Carl Risch of the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. “Continued efforts to improve interagency security vetting for visa applicants will enhance our ability to identify persons who mean us harm and prevent their entry into the United States.”
Unlike natural-born U.S. citizens, whose citizenship cannot be taken involuntarily, a naturalized U.S. citizen can be stripped of citizenship if the federal government can prove defendant meets the criteria for denaturalization. Once denaturalized by federal court action, the defendant is subject to deportation.
The government alleges that Hamed should lose his U.S. citizenship because he allegedly swore falsely under oath during his naturalization proceedings in 2000 that he had never knowingly committed a crime for which he had not been arrested.
In 2007, the Islamic American Relief Agency and five of its officials were charged in a 33-count indictment by a grand jury in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri for sending $1.4 million to Iraq during the sanctions that took place from 1990 to 2003. In 2008, Mark D. Siljander, former U.S. Representative from Michigan, was indicted for helping IARA raise more than $130,000 that was allegedly sent to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. In 2010, Siljander pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent, and Abdel Azim El-Siddig, formerly a part-time fundraiser for IARA, pleaded guilty to conspiring to hire Siljander to lobby for IARA's removal from the US Senate Finance Committee's list of organizations supporting terrorism. AS part of a plea in 2008, IARA admitted it secretly funneled $1.375 million in cash or merchandise to Iraq in violation of United States economic sanctions dating to 1990. The original indictment alleged the charity sent about $130,000 to help Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the United States has designated as a global terrorist. The money was sent to banks accounts in Pakistan. The funds were sent in 2003 and 2004 and masked as donations to an orphanage located in buildings that Hekmatyar owned. Authorities described Hekmatyar as an Afghan terrorist leader who has participated in and supported terrorist acts by al-Qaida and the Taliban.