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US, Deobandi imam allegedly aided al Qaeda in Pakistan, Afghanistan

US authorities are seeking to revoke the citizenship of an imam of deoband sect who they say tried to conceal past associations with radical groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In a petition filed on July 20 in a federal court, the US Department of Justice alleged Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye, an imam in Oregon,  raised money, recruited fighters and provided training for insurgent groups battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Government lawyers said Kariye for a time ‘dealt directly’ with Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam, the founders of al Qaeda. Further, they said the imam recruited sympathisers in the United States and Pakistan for an al Qaeda leader known as Maktab al-Khidamat.

Kariye is also accused of being a founding officer of Global Relief Foundation, which authorities say provided assistance to terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, and promoted radical jihad.

Further, federal authorities say Kariye failed to reveal those details in his application for citizenship, which was granted in 1998.

Kariye was one of 18 people who in 2010 sued the federal government for unfairly placing them on a no-fly list.

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