Cleric popular with ISIS ordered to testify on finances

The Detroit News

Detroit — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered an Islamic cleric with ISIS sympathizers to testify about his finances, days before his supervised probation for a fraud conviction is set to expire.

During a hearing in U.S. District Court, Chief Judge Gerald Rosen ordered Ahmad Jebril, an Islamic cleric based in Dearborn, to testify under oath Wednesday about the source of his income.

Jebril, who was convicted in 2005 of insurance fraud and ordered to pay $250,000 restitution, refused during a deposition last August to answer hundreds of questions.

Jebril cited his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office asked a judge to intervene. Rosen encouraged the government to consider immunity for Jebril. The judge suggested he’ll hold Jebril in contempt of court if he gets immunity but still cites the Fifth Amendment.

Jebril — who sat silent during the court proceedings Tuesday and read the Quran — declined to comment afterward. Last year, he was named one of the two “most prominent and popular spiritual authorities” among foreign fighters from the West, according to a social media study by the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence.

He has been under court supervision for three years after spending 61/2 years in prison. Federal authorities accused Jebril and his father, who was convicted in the same case, of buying 13 homes and two apartment buildings in Metro Detroit and insuring them for much more than they were worth.

The pair were accused of defrauding six banks of more than $250,000.

Part of Jebril’s sentence is the $250,000 in restitution but so far he has only been making payments of $75 a month, for a total of $3,000, according to court documents.

His court supervision expires March 29.

In the previous deposition, Jebril repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights for most of the 225 questions — even when asked as if he understood how PayPal works and who takes care of the lawn at the house where he is living.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, Jebril’s attorney Rita Chastang said “there is no evidence he is hiding assets.”

Rosen asked, “How do we know, if he doesn’t want to answer the questions?”

Jebril is scheduled for the deposition at 9 a.m.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Hotz is expected to inform Rosen of the outcome of the proceedings by noon.

Afterward, Rosen could issue a written order.

Associated Press contributed.