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California Muslim cleric to be deported

A cleric facing immigration charges agreed Monday to be deported to Pakistan, a week after being accused of plotting to open a terrorism camp in California to train followers to kill Americans.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A cleric facing immigration charges agreed Monday to be deported to Pakistan, a week after being accused of plotting to open a terrorism camp in California to train followers to kill Americans.

Shabbir Ahmed, 39, will be deported on charges unrelated to terrorism: that he overstayed his religious-work visa while heading a mosque in Lodi, an agricultural town of 62,000 about 30 miles south of Sacramento.

Ahmed was one of five men from the mosque who were arrested in June, none of whom have been charged with crimes of terrorism.

Ahmed’s decision not to contest the immigration charge, announced in a tiny immigration courtroom, came a week after immigration judge Anthony Murry called him a “danger to the community” and refused to set bail.

“Mr. Ahmed is ordered removed to Pakistan,” Murry said Monday.

An FBI agent testified last week that Ahmed was acting as an intermediary for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists. The agent refused to testify whether Ahmed was a member of a terror group, saying that information was classified.

Defense lawyer Saad Ahmad has repeatedly said his client was not a terrorist.

With Monday’s development, Ahmed becomes the third of the five men to be removed to Pakistan.