A nearly five-year legal saga will conclude Thursday for Falls Church resident Jamal Abusamhadaneh when he takes the oath of citizenship at a federal courthouse, after a federal judge ruled that immigration authorities wrongly drew sinister conclusions about aspects of his Muslim faith.
Abusamhadaneh’s naturalization follows last month’s unusual ruling that overturned the denial of his application by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
USCIS had denied the application and expressed concerns about Abusamhadaneh’s association with a prominent Virginia mosque and a purported link to the Muslim Brotherhood.
U.S. District Judge James Cacheris, who heard three days of evidence at trial earlier this year and issued an unusually detailed 90-page ruling, will personally administer the oath Thursday. He said USCIS’ concerns on all counts were either unfounded or overblown.
“Mr. Abusamhadaneh is a person of good moral character and meets the requirement for naturalization,” Cacheris wrote.
Abusamhadaneh, who first applied for citizenship in February 2008, did not respond to an email seeking an interview. Through his lawyers, he provided a statement: “I am thankful that Judge Cacheris vindicated me in this long and heart-wrenching process. For me citizenship is not just a process but a concept of justice, freedom and happiness.”
“He’s happy that the judge ruled in his favor,” said one of his attorneys, Denyse Sabagh. “He’s happy that, as a matter of law, a judge determined he’s a person of good moral character.”
A finding of good moral character is a requirement for citizenship, and that’s where USCIS contended the former IT worker with the Fairfax County Police Department fell short. Immigration officers contended that Abusamhadaneh lied by denying to interviewers his associations with the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in northern Virginia and the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that is banned in some countries.
The mosque that’s among the largest and most prominent in the region has been a subject of controversy for more than a decade, primarily because a former imam there, Anwar al-Awlaki, later left the country for Yemen and became a high-profile al-Qaida leader before he was killed in a drone strike.
A judge, though, found that Abusamhadaneh was truthful about his associations. In his initial interview, Abusamhadaneh followed advice from his first attorney, Ashraf Nubani, that he shouldn’t discuss his religious affiliations. When it became clear, though, that his interviewers had questions about his religious affiliations, Abusamhadaneh told USCIS that he is not an official member of Dar al-Hijrah but worships there regularly because he lives nearby.
The supposed links to the Muslim Brotherhood were even more tenuous. Abusamhadaneh said he has never been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
USCIS, meanwhile, had an FBI report that linked Abusamhadaneh to the Brotherhood. At trial, it was revealed that the source of the FBI report was Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was Abusamhadaneh’s boss for several years at the American Muslim Council. Alamoudi, a prominent U.S. Muslim activist, is currently serving a prison sentence for participating in a Libyan plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.