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Philadelphia Mosque Is Raided; Muslim Cleric Held

From Associated Press

Federal agents raided a mosque and two homes in Philadelphia on Thursday and took a Muslim cleric into custody on immigration charges, authorities and witnesses said.

Internal Revenue Service agents executed a search warrant at the Ansaar Allah Islamic Society and an adjacent home in the city’s Bridesburg section, plus a third home in northeast Philadelphia, according to IRS spokesman Skip Bedics.

No one was arrested on criminal charges, but immigration authorities detained Mohamed Ghorab, an Egyptian who is the imam at the small mosque, which is housed inside a cinderblock garage.

FBI agents were also on hand for the raid, but the bureau’s Philadelphia spokeswoman, Jerri Williams, said they were present only to offer support. She declined to discuss details of the case but said it had “no direct connection to terrorism.”

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Ghorab’s wife, Meriem Moumen, said armed agents seized her husband as the couple dropped off their daughter at school a few blocks from the mosque.

Moumen, 33, said one of the agents accused her of being involved in terrorism. She said her husband is peaceful and has no ties to any terrorist groups and, sobbing, insisted that they were “just a regular family.”

“He’s only the leader of the mosque. He’s not involved in anything,” she said. “We were treated like dogs.”

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia declined to discuss the case. Bedics would not say what IRS agents were looking for.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Michael Gilhooly said Ghorab, a visitor to the United States, had been ordered deported by an immigration court, but had been free on bond while he appealed the decision.

Gilhooly said that during the search, ICE agents “determined that the conditions of Mr. Ghorab’s bond had changed and he was taken into custody pending removal from the United States.” He declined to elaborate.

Worshippers gathering at the mosque hours after the morning raid said agents had broken down doors, opened cabinets and taken away boxes of records.


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