Deported Imam Arrested by Israeli Officials

DETROIT (AP) - The former imam of Ohio's largest mosque who was deported to his native West Bank last week for hiding his ties to a suspected terrorist group was arrested by Israeli authorities after crossing from Jordan, his brother said Monday.

Fawaz Damra, 47, had been jailed in Monroe County, Mich., for a year while awaiting deportation for concealing his ties to Islamic Jihad when he applied for U.S. citizenship in 1994.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced his removal Friday.

His brother, Nabil Damra, said the Red Cross and the Center for the Defense of the Individual, an Israeli advocacy group for Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, informed him that Fawaz Damra was in custody and had been taken to Israel's Al Jalameh detention facility near Jenin in the northern West Bank.

"He was arrested the moment he arrived to the border," Nabil Damra said through a translator by cell phone from the West Bank. He said a lawyer had been hired for his brother.

Don Bryant, president of the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network and a friend of Damra's, was alarmed when he learned Damra had been detained.

"Our biggest fear is that he might stand trial in Israel," Bryant said. "This is a nightmare for him."

He said Damra's wife, Nesreen, declined to comment.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore repeated Monday what had been said Friday - that Damra was flown to Amman on Thursday and taken to the Allenby Bridge, where he was directly handed over to Palestinian authorities.

Any parties crossing the Allenby Bridge must first go through an Israeli-controlled checkpoint.

Palmore said that if Damra were arrested, Palestinian authorities - not U.S. authorities - must have handed him over to the Israelis.