Justice officials seeks to denaturalize Ypsilanti man convicted of supporting Hamas

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to revoke the citizenship of a Ypsilanti man who was convicted in Israel of supporting Hamas, officials said.

Prosecutors want to denaturalize Abdul Jabbar Naji Shalabi, 39, who allegedly concealed bomb-making materials twice for a known Hamas bomb maker. 

Shalabi, a native of Jordan, was convicted in Israel of providing support to Hamas, designated by the U.S. as a terrorist group, according to the Justice Department’s civil complaint filed in federal court in Detroit.

The complaint alleges that throughout his 2005 citizenship proceedings, Shalabi "lied about and concealed his provision of support to Hamas, arrest, conviction and imprisonment" in Israel.

"Any person who obtains American citizenship through lies is not entitled to the benefit of citizenship in our country, and this is especially true for people who support violent terrorist organizations such as Hamas," U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement.

According to the complaint, Shalabi immigrated to the United States in 1997 but later left to study at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank.

The complaint indicates that in October 2002, Shalabi was arrested by Israeli authorities on suspicion of having concealed acetone, a bomb-making component, on behalf of Hamas bomb maker Ahmad Abu-Taha.

He pleaded guilty in an Israeli court in March 2003 to "providing service" to a hostile entity in a plea agreement. He was sentenced to seven months imprisonment, three years of probation and a fine.

The complaint alleges that following his release and return to the U.S., Shalabi was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 2005, but lied about his Israel conviction.

The department alleged that the false statements were made by Shalabi on May 31, 2005, when he said he only traveled out of the U.S. for 160 days to Jordan in the five years preceding his naturalization application submission. He also said he had never been a member of or associated with any terrorist organizations.

"(He stated he had) never been convicted of a crime or offense; never received a suspended sentence, been placed on probation, or been paroled; and never given false or misleading information to a U.S. government official while applying for an application for an immigration benefit," according to the complaint. "Defendant knew these statements were false."

Officials said that expert comparison of a fingerprint on a certified copy of the Israeli conviction matched fingerprints Shalabi gave during his naturalization proceedings.

It's unclear how the department became aware of Shalabi's alleged overseas conviction or if he is in the country. Attempts to reach a lawyer for Shalabi were unsuccessful.

"This administration is dedicated to keeping the American people safe and protecting the integrity of our legal immigration system," said Ken Cuccinelli, senior official for the Department of Homeland Security. "Through his behavior, this individual has proven unqualified for citizenship in the United States and must be held accountable for fraudulently obtaining that incredible privilege."


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