Several hundred Muslims rallied Friday in Santa Ana to demand the release
of an Orange County man who they say is being unfairly held for violating
immigration laws in an attempt by authorities to pressure him to testify
against an indicted Islamic charity where he once worked.
Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan, 44, of Buena Park was arrested by federal agents
Tuesday, the same day seven members of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation
were charged with funneling millions to Hamas, the Palestinian group that
the U.S. government calls a terrorist organization.
Hamdan, a 24-year resident of the United States who is being held without
bail, once worked as a paid fundraiser for the charity but was not named in
Hamdan's lawyer, Ban Al-Wardi, said her client is accused of overstaying
his student visa after 1986. But she said Hamdan has been living here with
his wife and six children under a work permit, which was renewed in May.
Hamdan is a Muslim born in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Middle East.
Al-Wardi said the arrest is a move by the government to pressure Hamdan to
testify against the Holy Land Foundation. But a spokeswoman for the federal
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Hamdan was "in violation of
immigration law" but would not discuss details.
At the Civic Center prayer vigil, Hamdan's wife, Entesar, spoke as her two
youngest sons stood at her side.
"If my husband is unjustly deported, our family and our lives will be
destroyed," she said. "I appeal to all people who support fairness and
justice to help free my husband so he can come back to his children and