Fawaz and Fayez Damra are Palestinian brothers who made their way to America as young men during the 1980s, became naturalized U.S. citizens and set about making new lives in their new homeland.
Fawaz Damra became a man of the cloth, a Muslim cleric who ultimately was the imam Cleveland's largest mosque. Fayez Damra became a businessman, starting a computer software design company in Las Vegas. On the surface, the Damra brothers were on their way to living the American dream. The brothers Damra, however, moved in darker circles.
While publicly posturing as a pious cleric, Fawaz Damra shilled behind the scenes for the likes of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), its leading U.S. operative Sami Al-Arian, and an al-Qaeda-linked organization in New York. Not surprisingly, Fawaz omitted the facts concerning his terror support activities when he applied to become an American citizen. After nearly a decade, he was prosecuted and convicted of that felonious fraud in 2004, stripped of his U.S. citizenship and subsequently deported to the West Bank in 2007.
The prosecution of Fawaz Damra generated interest from the IRS. Shortly after his conviction in 2004, the IRS began investigating his financial activities. In reviewing his tax returns, the IRS discovered a suspicious reporting for $100,000 as payment to Fawaz as a consultant to a software company. The IRS investigation determined the software company was the one owned by his brother Fayez. That investigation further determined Fawaz performed no consulting work.
In fact, Fayez told IRS agents and federal prosecutors that he did not like his brother Fawaz, attributed his (Fayez') involvement in the case to his "disgruntled brother Fawaz Damra." He accused Fawaz of skimming and stealing money that Fayez intended to send to their ailing father in Jerusalem. Fawaz, his brother said, was a "coward and a loser" who was mentally unstable. He paid the $100,000 to Fawaz only after family from the West Bank called and "guilted him" into paying.
Fayez hoped the money would be a "divorce payment" to get Fawaz away from him. It was never compensation for consulting work since Fawaz never brought any business to the computer company.
The IRS investigation found that Fawaz originally invested between $20,000 and $40,000 in Fayez' computer business. Fayez told investigating agents he believed Fawaz got that money by skimming it from his mosque.
Both Damra brothers were indicted for tax fraud in 2006. With Fawaz Damra's 2007 deportation, the tax fraud case against him was suspended, but it continued against Fayez. Against the court's repeated advice, Fayez Damra chose to represent himself at trial. He was convicted in May, 2007 and sentenced to 21 months in prison. He remains free on bond as he appeals to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments in his appeal are scheduled for June 15.
The U.S. court system established that Fawaz Damra, who enjoyed a reputation as a moderate voice of interfaith dialogue, was really a lying supporter of radical Islamic terror. That same court system has further proved Fawaz Damra's corruption extended to his own family.