AKRON, Ohio -- Testimony in the trial of an Islamic cleric accused of lying on his application for US citizenship ended yesterday after federal prosecutors showed video footage of the defendant raising money for a suspected terrorist group.
Fawaz Damra, the Palestinian-born imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, is charged with lying about his connections to terrorist organizations when he applied for citizenship in 1994.
Damra, 41, has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, stripped of his citizenship, and deported.
Jurors watched a 1991 video of Damra speaking at the Beit Hanina Club in Cleveland, a social group for Palestinians, urging the audience to donate money for the Islamic Committee for Palestine, which he described as an "active arm of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in America."
Matthew Levitt, senior fellow in terrorism studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, testified that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been listed as a major terrorist group by the State Department since 1989.
Cline asked US District Judge James Gwin for an acquittal based on insufficient evidence. The judge said he would consider the request after the jury reached a verdict.
Closing arguments were scheduled for today.