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IPMN Community Blogger
If any of you are alums of colleges that sponsor tours (mine is called Iowa voyagers and is run through the Alumni Office) please beware of a trip put on by AHI International to Israel this Nov. 12-21. Except for hearing Linda Gradstein--who no longer reports for NPR from there--they are not hearing anything about the Palestinian side of the situation---seeing only "natonal" and "holy" sites in Tel Aviv, the Galilee and Jerusalem. I just called by Alumni Office to register a complaint and urge any of you who get such offers, to do the same.
Man with Hamas items on computer can be deportedBob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, February 17, 2011
(02-16) 16:47 PST SAN MATEO -- A Palestinian blocked from joining his family in the Bay Area four years ago after being stopped at San Francisco International Airport with material on the Islamist group Hamas in his computer can be deported as a potential terrorist, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The man's lawyer said, however, that the United States has not yet found a country that will accept him.
Tareq Abufayad, then 24, was returning from college in Egypt to join his family in San Mateo four years ago today when he was questioned at the airport by a customs agent who said Abufayad had a "confrontational" attitude.
A search of his computer hard drive produced what an agent described as "jihadist materials," including some that referred to Hamas. The group governs Gaza, where Abufayad lived, and the U.S. government considers it a terrorist organization.
Abufayad has been in immigration jails ever since. He said he had never joined or supported Hamas and that the items in his computer concerned current events in Gaza, some of which he hadn't read.
But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said immigration officials had reasonably concluded, based on testimony by a Department of Homeland Security expert, that Abufayad was likely to engage in or support terrorism if allowed into the United States.
The court said Abufayad, as a youth, had lived in a town in Gaza that was a Hamas stronghold, and attended a mosque whose imam later joined the Hamas government. Two of his cousins were Hamas members, and he briefly shared an apartment with four Hamas members or sympathizers as a college student in the West Bank, the court said.
The court also said the government's expert had found that Abufayad, who had studied computer science in college, would have been an "exceptionally attractive target for recruitment" by Hamas.
"The government plainly presented some evidence of Abufayad's future likelihood to engage in terrorism," Judge Ronald Gould said in the 3-0 ruling. Under the law, he said, Abufayad must disprove that finding "clearly and beyond doubt" to avoid deportation.
The court also accepted U.S. assurances that Abufayad could be deported safely to the Palestinian territories, despite an immigration judge's conclusion that he was likely to be tortured as a suspected Hamas sympathizer by either Israel or the Palestinian Authority, Hamas' rival.
However, Abufayad's attorney, Love Suh, said Israel would prohibit Abufayad's return to either Gaza or the West Bank. She said immigration officials have told her that both Saudi Arabia, where Abufayad was born, and Egypt, where he studied, have refused to accept him.
"No one says he is a terrorist, but they say he's likely to engage in terrorism" based on an expert's assessment, Suh said. "That's enough, because there's no way to disprove it beyond a doubt."
Abufayad's father, a U.S. citizen, runs a limousine company and has sponsored his other five children's immigration to the United States, Suh said.
She said she is trying to get Abufayad released from an immigration jail in Bakersfield to stay with his family under electronic monitoring while the government looks for a country that will take him.
This article appeared on page C - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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Twitchy computer access affected blog posting while in Palestine, but
it seems to have ended up on my profile page. So, if you're interested in
the rest of the planting information, please go to my profile page and
We spent our first day with the Keep Hope Alive program touring Bethlehem, including the views from Shepherd's Field of both the newer Palestinian apartments, and the increasing expansion of Har Homa and the wall around the last hillside in the valley. Baha from the Joint Advocacy Initiative for the Olive Tree Planting Program is a wonder! We then traveled to various parts of the greater Bethlehem communities, including parts of Beit Sahour, Beit Jala, and the surround hills. We walked the group of 32 of us through Bethlehem along the contours of the Wall, and then went to visit two of the refugee camps, one by bus and one on foot. Our planting group includes people from Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and a group of 6 of us from the USA.
Tonight the group met at the YMCA in Beit Sahour to study Kairos Palestine, and I have given Joint Advocacy Initiative one of the copies of our Kairos study for their library. The UCC is coming this week to talk about Kairos with the executive committee of Kairos Palestine.
Tomorrow we go to the muddy fields to plant for the first time. It's cold and rainy and damp, but our spirits are high!
A visit to Palestine and Israel is filled with swirling, often contradictory ideas and emotions. It is a challenge to prepare a brief, coherent summary. This trip was no exception. Traveling with 23 Presbyterians, Don and his friend Peter Mann worked together with a wonderful pastor, Rev. Marthame Sanders, to plan and lead the trip, as we followed Jesus’s route traveling from Bethlehem to Galilee to Jerusalem over twelve busy days. What follows is not an official report but our own personal reflections.
Sorry that I haven't been able to write much the past few days -- so much happening, and no easy access to computers. Carol and I have been traveling for the past 36 hours, it seems, and are glad to be home but very sleepy. I'll try to write something tomorrow that tells a bit about our last few days over there. It was a great trip! We'll sleep well tonight, in our own beds, but were really grateful for wonderful traveling companions, and specially for the outstanding leadership that Marthame provided.