February 28, 2008, - 1:19 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE ****
So, let me get this straight:
The head of one of Boston’s biggest mosques in Boston is convicted of visa fraud. He lied to American immigration officials–five counts of lying. But, he won’t serve a day in jail. And the U.S. might not deport him. HUH?!
Call it, “Nada Nadim Prouty, the Sequel” or “America: Desperate But Not Serious”:
A local imam plans to plead guilty to visa fraud charges in a plea deal with federal prosecutors that would give him probation.
Muhammad Masood, a citizen of Pakistan, is the former spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of New England’s Sharon mosque. His lawyer says Masood is expected to plead guilty today to five charges of making false statements to immigration officials.
A joint recommendation from Masood’s attorney and prosecutors calls for him to receive three years of probation, but it is unclear whether Masood‚Äôs guilty plea will result in his deportation.
The arrest of Masood and another local imam on visa fraud charges in November 2006 prompted an outcry from the Muslim community.
Hmmm . . . is your community has a loud enough “outcry,” anything is possible. What a country.
Thanks to reader Chip for sending this absurdity.
**** More on this phony Masood. He overstayed a student visa since 1991. To apply for any new visa, he was required to return to Pakistan for two years before re-entry and/or re-application for a new visa into the country. But instead, he stayed here and then lied to ICE officials, telling them that he returned to Pakistan and then was ushered back into the U.S. by “men in black” who bypassed Customs. Riiight:
In a 2003 immigration interview for a religious-worker visa, Imam Masood explained his re-entry with an account that some who have read the affidavit have dubbed the “men in black” story, a reference to the shadowy agents who show up in pop-culture conspiracy theories.
Imam Masood told immigration agents that two men he didn‚Äôt know helped him onto his 1993 flight from Islamabad – after they took his passport – and that two white Americans in business suits with no badges met him at the baggage claim at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. He said that duo “appeared to know the immigration officers” and escorted him through an unmarked door so he didn‚Äôt have to go through customs.
The imam acknowledged that he had no proof of his account. According to the affidavit, there are no State Department or Customs records of any departure or return after 1990.
Instead of leaving the U.S., according to the criminal affidavit, Imam Masood filed for a leave of absence from BU and worked as a security guard and parking-garage attendant, among other jobs. He also got a couple of traffic tickets.
He continued to live in BU graduate housing with his wife, Rehana, and their children, and he re-enrolled at BU in 1992, bought a car and was with his wife at the hospital when their youngest child was born, the affidavit says.
Some longtime Islamic Center members say Imam Masood was active with campus Muslim groups and Boston-area mosques through the mid-1990s, while his wife worked part-time. (According to the government affidavit, he also claimed to be imam at the Worcester mosque from 1993 to 1997.)
Terminated at BU in 1995 for a lack of academic work, he kept a campus apartment by claiming that he was enrolled. According to the affidavit, the family was still living in BU‚Äôs Warren Hall when the Islamic Center hired him as a religious-school teacher in 1996. (Imam Masood eventually resumed his studies and got a master‚Äôs degree from BU in 2005.)
That this criminal and liar gets to stay here is nauseating. Well, when you are a prominent Muslim religious leader, all bets are off.
Guh-reat job, U.S. Government. Any other plea deals we need to know about? Sadly, there are so many like this.
**** UPDATE, 2/29/08: Forgot to mention that Miss Kelly is a very important, Boston-based site that has been following this story and has excellent coverage. ****
Tags: America, attorney, Boston, BU, BU‚Äôs Warren Hall, Debbie Schlussel, Department of State, former spiritual leader, head, Imam Masood, Islamabad, Islamic Center, John F. Kennedy International Airport, lawyer, Muhammad Masood, Nada Nadim Prouty, New England, New England's Sharon mosque, New York, of New England, Pakistan, reader Chip, Rehana, religious-school teacher, security guard, spiritual leader, U.S. government, United States, Worcester mosque