Islamic Center of Passaic County
Paterson, NJ

Hamas, Holy Land Foundation (HLF)

Mohammad El-Mezain was one of the founders in August 1989[1] and the first imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) in New Jersey.[2] El-Mezain was convicted of funneling money to Hamas in November 2008, along with four others in the HLF-Hamas financing trial in Dallas. [3] El-Mezain reportedly stated in a 1994 speech at the ICPC that he raised $1,800,000 inside the United States for Hamas activities.[4]

Another imam at the mosque, Mohammad Qatanani, is accused of lying on his immigration documents by failing to disclose his arrest and conviction in Israel when he confessed that he was a member of Hamas. Qatanani admits that he was detained by the Israelis but claims that he was never convicted of any crime.[5] In 2008 an immigration judge's ruling granted Qatanani permanent U.S. residency. However, the Department of Homeland Security filed a notice of appeal which stated that the immigration judge erred in granting Qatanani permanent residency because Qatanani "has by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, sought to procure a visa" and "engaged in terrorist activity." The appeal also noted several other actions by the immigration judge with which the DHS took issue, such as "limiting testimony." It concludes that "The Immigration Judge erred by granting adjustment of status, as a matter of discretion, when the adverse factors outweighed the positive factors of the lead respondent's case."[6]

[1] Articles of Incorporation. Islamic Center of Passaic County. August 11, 1989.

[2] David Koenig. "FBI Links Muslim Charity Figure to Anti-Israel Rally," The Bergen County Record, December 7, 2001.

[3] USA. v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development et, al., 3:04-CR-240-P, "Jury Verdict," (N.D. Tex. November 24, 2008).

[4] "Action Memorandum Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development International Emergency Economic Powers Act," From Dale Watson, Assistant Director FBI Counterterrorism Division to Richard Newcomb, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Department of Treasury, November 5, 2001, 46-47.

[5] Elizabeth L. Lorente, "Battle continues for cleric; Next step in Imam's immigration case set for February," Herald News, December 5, 2009.

[6] "Notice of Appeal from Decision of an Immigration Judge," U.S. Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals, OMB# 1125-0002, October 2, 2008.