Ashqar, who must wear an electronic monitoring device on his ankle and file a written motion in federal court in Chicago each time he wants permission to leave his house, said the restrictions make his situation similar to that of many Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
"It happens that I am living here in the United States under abnormal circumstances," he said. "Some Palestinians [who] live there in the West Bank or Gaza . . . they cannot leave their towns."
Abdelhaleem Ashqar hugs his wife, Asma, after he and Muhammad Salah, right, leave a Chicago jail in September for house arrest.
(Abel Uribe -- Chicago Tribune Via AP)
After his voter registration was accepted, Ashqar paid the $3,000 candidate filing fee and asked relatives and friends back home to get the required 5,000 signatures from registered voters. He said they gathered 7,000 to 8,000 signatures in less than 48 hours.
Ashqar said he believes "in a two-state solution" based on U.N. resolutions for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He disagrees with Hamas's decision to boycott the upcoming elections, which both Washington and Israel hope will produce a strong Palestinian leader.
Ashqar, who received his doctorate in business from the University of Mississippi in 1997, is married, has three children and worships at Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church.
And if, perchance, he wins?
"I'd like to do whatever it takes here to be released and go home," he said, adding that his indictment is "a political case, and there is no point of holding me and depriving me from my rights."