A federal judge, at the request of President Donald Trump’s administration, has revoked the “illegally procured” U.S. citizenship of an Egyptian-born “confessed al-Qaeda operative” who was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in the late 1990s for terrorism-linked offenses in Egypt, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced.
“The Justice Department is committed to protecting our nation’s national security and will aggressively pursue denaturalization of known or suspected terrorists,” declared Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“We will protect our national security and our borders, and when we identify individuals tied to foreign terrorist organizations who procured their U.S. citizenship by fraud, we will initiate denaturalization proceedings — whether you reside here or abroad — and ensure you are denied entry into the United States,” he added.
The defendant, 57-year-old Egyptian-born naturalized American citizen Khaled Abu al-Dahab, is also a “confessed member” of the terrorist group Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), notes DOJ in the press release announcing the judge’s decision.
While he was supposed to be establishing good moral character to become a naturalized American citizen, as mandated by U.S. law, Dahab was operating a communications hub for EIJ jihadists out of his apartment in California that assisted the group in carrying out terrorist attacks in Egypt and Pakistan, reveals the Trump administration.
The Egyptian jihadist conceded that he “received military-style training and taught foreign fighters to fly hang gliders in preparation for terrorist attack” at a training camp near Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, located along the Pakistan border, notes DOJ.
Dahab reportedly facilitated the distribution of fraudulent passports, documents, money, and other items among EIJ terrorists.
He also admitted to authorities that he recruited American Muslims into the al-Qaeda jihadist group during the 12 years he spent in California after entering the United States in 1986 on a nonimmigrant visitor visa.
Al-Dahab told the investigators that Osama bin Laden was eager to recruit American citizens of Middle Eastern descent because their U.S. passports could be used to facilitate international travel by al Qaeda terrorists, and that bin Laden personally congratulated him for this work. Al-Dahab was naturalized as a U.S. citizen on Feb. 7, 1997. Upon departing the United States sometime in 1998, al-Dahab was arrested by Egyptian authorities. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for terrorism related offenses.
The Trump administration has identified the defendant as a Silicon Valley car salesman known by various aliases.
“Due in part to alleged false statements and false testimony related to the defendant’s applications for citizenship, the government seeks revocation of the defendant’s naturalization and cancellation of his Certificate of Naturalization as both illegally procured and procured by willful misrepresentation or concealment of material facts,” argued DOJ before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, court documents.
DOJ further explains:
[Dahab] illegally procured his citizenship on account of his false written statements and testimony during his naturalization proceedings regarding his current and past addresses; employment history; travel outside the United States; marital history; prior false testimony; prior claims of U.S. citizenship; commission of crimes for which he had not been arrested; and membership in or association with EIJ, as well as his affiliation with an organization that advocated terrorism.
On Wednesday, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell granted the administration’s request to strip Dahab of his citizenship.
Howell’s opinion granting the Trump administration’s request stressed that naturalization is a privilege, not a right.
The Immigration and Nationality Act grants the government the authority to revoke a naturalized American citizen’s citizenship if the naturalization was either procured illegally, obtained by concealing material facts, or by willful misrepresentation.
Dahab has refused to respond to the accusations, note the court documents.
Nevertheless, Judge Howell ordered Dahab to:
Immediately surrender and deliver his Certificate of Naturalization and any other indicia of United States citizenship, as well as any copies thereof in his possession, and to make good faith efforts to recover and then surrender any copies thereof that he knows are in the possession of others, to the Attorney General, or his representative, including counsel for the United States in this action.
Dahab married at least three times after entering the United States in 1986, obtaining Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status and ultimately becoming a naturalized American citizen through his marriages.