Chicago, Illinois - The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit seeking to revoke the naturalized U.S. citizenship of an individual convicted of providing material support to terrorists by, among other means, traveling abroad with the intent to murder or maim U.S. military forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. According to the civil complaint filed in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois, the individual allegedly concealed this conduct and other actions during his naturalization proceedings.
“The United States will use every available law enforcement tool to combat terrorism,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. “Those who are naturalized in the United States swear to support and defend our Constitution and laws against all enemies. Those who have actively supported terrorism and concealed that fact cannot take that oath in good faith and should not have the benefit of continued citizenship. Civil denaturalization is thus one important tool in our anti-terrorism efforts. We will continue to zealously seek out and prosecute individuals like Mr. Ahmed.”
Khaleel Ahmed, 37, a native of India, was convicted pursuant to a guilty plea in 2009 of providing material support to terrorists through his efforts to travel abroad in order to murder or maim U.S. military forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339A. As admitted in his criminal proceedings, between 2004 and 2007, Ahmed and his cousin, Zubair Ahmed, made preparations to travel abroad, and did in fact travel to Cairo, Egypt, with the intent of engaging in acts that would result in the murder or maiming of U.S. military forces. Upon returning from Cairo, the cousins discussed, sought, and received instruction on the use of firearms, including sniper rifles, and in counter-surveillance techniques. They also collected and distributed videos of attacks on U.S. military forces overseas, manuals on military tactics, and military manuals on weaponry. In 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio accepted the cousins’ guilty pleas, and in 2010 sentenced Khaleel Ahmed to eight years and four months in prison and three years of supervised release.
Although Ahmed’s crimes began while he was a permanent resident of the United States, he was not arrested and his criminal proceedings did not occur until after he naturalized in 2004. The civil denaturalization complaint alleges that Ahmed concealed and affirmatively misrepresented his criminal conduct throughout his naturalization proceedings, and that his application would have been denied had immigration authorities known about his provision of material support to terrorists.
"The United States will never be a safe haven for those seeking to support terrorists,” said Special Agent in Charge James M. Gibbons, HSI Chicago. “When individuals lie to obtain immigration benefits, the system is severely undermined and the security of our nation is put at risk."
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation, District Court Section (OIL-DCS). The case is being prosecuted by OIL-DCS’s National Security and Affirmative Litigation Unit, with support from ICE’s Chicago Office of the Chief Counsel and ICE-HSI Chicago.
The claims made in the complaint are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.