Bryan Denson writes in The Oregonian:
The FBI acknowledged Monday that a joint investigation by its agents and those of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement prompted the government's move on Monday to revoke the citizenship of the imam of Portland's biggest mosque.
"The U.S. Department of Justice is pursuing Mr. (Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman) Kariye's denaturalization based on his illegal procurement of naturalization; specifically, Mr. Kariye obtained his U.S. citizenship by providing false information and willful misrepresentation and concealment of material facts including his criminal history and failed to establish that he was a person of good moral character during the requisite statutory period," the FBI wrote in a news statement. "Due to the ongoing legal proceedings, no further information is available at this time."
Court papers filed Monday in Portland show that Justice Department officials hope to win denaturalization of the Somali-born imam's citizenship because he allegedly tried to conceal past associations with Islamic groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Associated Press broke the story, based on a 34-page civil petition, which accuses Kariye of failing to tell immigration officials that he raised money, recruited fighters and provided training for insurgents battling the Soviet military in its 1980s war in Afghanistan.
The U.S. backed those mujahideen fighters in a proxy war against the Soviet Union, helping to topple the financially crippled superpower and end the Cold War.
Monday's petition suggests that Kariye for a time had direct dealings with Osama bin Laden, who later came to head al-Qaida, along with a precursor terrorist organization known as Maktab Al-Khidamat. The government alleges that Kariye did not list those affiliations in his application for citizenship.
An associate of Kariye, reached at a post-Ramadan celebration, said the imam had not yet read the government's petition.
Kariye, whose father was one of Somalia's most popular imams, is leader of Masjed As-Saber in Southwest Portland.