[Ppnews] Palestinian with Hamas items on computer can be deported

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 17 11:02:01 EST 2011

Man with Hamas items on computer can be deported

<mailto:begelko at sfchronicle.com>Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, February 17, 2011

(02-16) 16:47 PST SAN MATEO -- A Palestinian blocked from joining his 
family in the Bay Area four years ago after being stopped at San 
Francisco International Airport with material on the Islamist group 
Hamas in his computer can be deported as a potential terrorist, a 
federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The man's lawyer said, however, that the United States has not yet 
found a country that will accept him.

Tareq Abufayad, then 24, was returning from college in Egypt to join 
his family in San Mateo four years ago today when he was questioned 
at the airport by a customs agent who said Abufayad had a 
"confrontational" attitude.

A search of his computer hard drive produced what an agent described 
as "jihadist materials," including some that referred to Hamas. The 
group governs Gaza, where Abufayad lived, and the U.S. government 
considers it a terrorist organization.

Abufayad has been in immigration jails ever since. He said he had 
never joined or supported Hamas and that the items in his computer 
concerned current events in Gaza, some of which he hadn't read.

But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said 
immigration officials had reasonably concluded, based on testimony by 
a Department of Homeland Security expert, that Abufayad was likely to 
engage in or support terrorism if allowed into the United States.

The court said Abufayad, as a youth, had lived in a town in Gaza that 
was a Hamas stronghold, and attended a mosque whose imam later joined 
the Hamas government. Two of his cousins were Hamas members, and he 
briefly shared an apartment with four Hamas members or sympathizers 
as a college student in the West Bank, the court said.

The court also said the government's expert had found that Abufayad, 
who had studied computer science in college, would have been an 
"exceptionally attractive target for recruitment" by Hamas.

"The government plainly presented some evidence of Abufayad's future 
likelihood to engage in terrorism," Judge Ronald Gould said in the 
3-0 ruling. Under the law, he said, Abufayad must disprove that 
finding "clearly and beyond doubt" to avoid deportation.

The court also accepted U.S. assurances that Abufayad could be 
deported safely to the Palestinian territories, despite an 
immigration judge's conclusion that he was likely to be tortured as a 
suspected Hamas sympathizer by either Israel or the Palestinian 
Authority, Hamas' rival.

However, Abufayad's attorney, Love Suh, said Israel would prohibit 
Abufayad's return to either Gaza or the West Bank. She said 
immigration officials have told her that both Saudi Arabia, where 
Abufayad was born, and Egypt, where he studied, have refused to accept him.

"No one says he is a terrorist, but they say he's likely to engage in 
terrorism" based on an expert's assessment, Suh said. "That's enough, 
because there's no way to disprove it beyond a doubt."

Abufayad's father, a U.S. citizen, runs a limousine company and has 
sponsored his other five children's immigration to the United States, 
Suh said.

She said she is trying to get Abufayad released from an immigration 
jail in Bakersfield to stay with his family under electronic 
monitoring while the government looks for a country that will take him.

E-mail Bob Egelko at <mailto:begelko at sfchronicle.com>begelko at sfchronicle.com.


This article appeared on page C - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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