A radical imam deported from Canada in 2007 was arrested by U.S. border authorities who found him hiding in trunk of a BMW near the U.S.-Mexican border earlier this month. Authorities say Said Jaziri paid $5,000 to members of a Tijuana-based smuggling ring to get him across the border so he could reach a "safe place anywhere in the United States." He is being held as a material witness in the criminal case against the driver of the BMW.
During his tenure as imam of a Montreal mosque, Jaziri stirred controversy with calls for implementation of sharia law, his push for taxpayer subsidies to build a large mosque for the city's growing Muslim population, and his leadership role in local protests against a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Jaziri's refugee status was revoked and he was deported after Canadian authorities learned that he had failed to disclose a 1994 criminal conviction in France. The conviction was related to his role in an assault on someone whose actions led to the closing of a prayer room.
Jaziri unsuccessfully fought to stop his deportation to Tunisia, claiming he was likely to be tortured. The Los Angeles Times reported that it is unclear how Jaziri was treated while in Tunisia or whether his departure from the country is related to the recent unrest there.
Court documents in the case said that a guide led Jaziri and a Mexican illegal into the United States. Passing firefighters said they saw Jaziri and the Mexican get into the BMW's trunk, and the vehicle was stopped by Border Patrol agents approximately 50 miles east of San Diego.
Jaziri said he flew from Africa to Europe, and then to Central America and a town on the Mexico-Belize border. From there he took a bus to Tijuana before entering the United States earlier this month.