Home Detroit Press Releases 2010 Holy Land Foundation Representative Pleads Guilty
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Holy Land Foundation Representative Pleads Guilty

U.S. Attorney’s Office October 14, 2010
  • Eastern District of Michigan (313) 226-9100

United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today that Mohamad Mustapha Ali Masfaka, a 47 year old native of Syria, entered a plea of guilty in federal court in Detroit to a charge of Making False Statements Under Oath in Naturalization Proceedings, a five year felony. Masfaka was arrested on January 22, 2010 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection when he attempted to enter the United States from Canada via the Ambassador Bridge. The guilty plea was tendered before United States District Judge Paul D. Borman.

Joined in the announcement was Brian Moskowitz, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations for Ohio and Michigan and Andrew Arena, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division.

The Indictment charged Mohamad Masfaka, also known as Abu Rateb, who is a singer throughout the Middle East, with lying to federal officials about his involvement with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), an organization that was designated by the U.S. Department of Treasury on December 4, 2001, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. HLF was created in 1988 as a non-profit tax exempt charitable organization purportedly to assist needy individuals in the West Bank and Gaza. In addition to its main office in Richardson, Texas, HLF maintained offices in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and in other cities throughout the United States, including Detroit, Michigan. On November 24, 2008, a federal jury in Dallas, Texas convicted the HLF and five of its employees of 21 charges, including providing millions of dollars in material support to the designated terrorist organization, Hamas. Masfaka’s Indictment alleges that he was employed by HLF in 1997 and 1998 and ran the HLF operations in the Detroit area to include organizing and participating in fund raising events for the HLF. Masfaka admitted during his guilty plea proceeding to lying to U.S. immigration officials about his involvement with the HLF in an attempt to gain U.S. citizenship in 2002 and 2004.

A sentencing date of December 14, 2010 was scheduled by the Court at which Mr. Masfaka will face a federal sentencing guideline range of 10 to 16 months and a judicial order of deportation to Syria.

“The guilty plea in this case puts in motion the process of removing from the United States an alien with known ties to a Treasury Department Designated Terrorist Organization. This individual went to great lengths to avoid apprehension and will now face justice on the criminal charges as well begin the process of his removal from the U.S.," said ICE HSI Special Agent In Charge Brian M. Moskowitz.

The prosecution was handled by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Jebson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth R. Chadwell.

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