An Islamic leader accused of concealing alleged links to anti-Israel terror groups to gain U.S. citizenship said Friday the charge was misguided and he would be vindicated.
Surrounded by people from Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths, Imam Fawaz Mohammed Damrah asked for continued support from the community.
''First and foremost, I have trust in God and then in the judicial system to vindicate me in the face of these misguided charges,'' said Damrah, who leads the Islamic Center of Cleveland.
Damrah, 41, was charged Tuesday with obtaining U.S. citizenship by providing false information. The indictment alleges he was a member or had links to several groups, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and concealed those affiliations on his citizenship application.
He pleaded innocent and was released on $160,000 bail for a trial Feb. 23. Possible penalties include five years in prison, loss of citizenship and a $5,000 fine.
Damrah said he believes the government is blatantly targeting Muslims. ''Because of these immaterial matters the government sees to convict me, imprison me, take my citizenship and have me deported and destroy my family,'' he said...