The detained co-founder of an Islamic charity pleaded for U.S. political asylum today, saying he would be a target for both sides in the war on terrorism if he were deported to Lebanon.
Rabih Haddad, a Lebanese citizen, testified that al Qaeda supporters could persecute him for his vocal opposition to the terrorist group and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He said he also feared action by the Lebanese government because of U.S. allegations linking him with terrorist activities.
Lebanon is "very eager to show the U.S. that they are one in the war against terrorism," Haddad said at an asylum hearing today before immigration Judge Robert Newberry. "There's no telling what they could do."
Haddad, who has been jailed since Dec. 14 on a visa violation, denies that he or his organization, Global Relief Foundation, have links to terrorists or related activities. The Bush administration has said it suspects Global Relief of having ties to terrorism, but no criminal charges have been filed against Haddad or the 10-year-old foundation.
The Ann Arbor resident, 41, is seeking asylum for himself and his family. The government also is trying to deport Haddad's wife, Salma al-Rushaid, and three of their four children. The judge is expected to issue a ruling Thursday.