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RESPONSE TO TERROR | IN BRIEF / FLORIDA

Palestinian Arrested, Will Be Deported

November 25, 2001|From Times Wire Reports

A Palestinian man who was held for 3 1/2 years on secret evidence was arrested for violating his visa and will be deported as a threat to national security, the Justice Department said.

The department said that Mazen Al-Najjar has ties to alleged terrorist front organizations, including a University of South Florida Islamic studies group.

Martin Schwartz, an attorney for Al-Najjar, said he would fight the decision. "The government is using him as a guinea pig to test their powers to detain foreigners," he said.

The arrest came after the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld Al-Najjar's final deportation order, which would send him to the United Arab Emirates. Al-Najjar lived there before coming to the United States in the 1980s.

Al-Najjar was arrested in 1997 on secret evidence as a threat to national security. He spent 3 1/2 years in prison based on a one-sentence summary of classified evidence against him. When he was released last December, Atty. Gen. Janet Reno said Al-Najjar could be deported for visa violations.

He helped run World and Islam Studies Enterprises and a Palestinian charity in the early 1990s. The U.S. government maintained that the Florida organizations fronted for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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