Buena Park Man Revels in His Reunion With Family

Times Staff Writer

A tired but jubilant Abdel Jabbar Hamdan thanked supporters Tuesday and said that after being jailed for two years on suspicion of having terrorist ties, he just wanted to get his life in order again.

“The first thing I did when I saw my family was to hug them and I said, ‘I want to make sure I’m home.’ So I told them, ‘Let me hug you again,’ ” said Hamdan, who had his wife, Entesar, at his side at a news conference in front of their Buena Park home.

But the fate of the 46-year-old father of six U.S.-born children remains in legal limbo despite his release from federal custody Monday: He still could face deportation by the Justice Department.

Hamdan’s case has become a cause celebre among those who maintain that the Bush administration has wrongly used terrorism allegations to jail Muslims, sometimes holding them for months without bond.


In cases such as Hamdan’s, suspects are charged with immigration law violations, a charge his attorney called a technicality.

“The Islamic community at large has believed all along in him, and Mr. Hamdan has proved he is an innocent man,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director for the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, who was at the news conference.

Hamdan’s immigration case is pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said ACLU attorney Ranjana Natarajan. “Unfortunately, there is no time frame to hear his case,” he said. “It could take a year or more.”

In the interim, Hamdan must comply with an electronic monitoring program, which requires him to be at home from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and stay within a 50-mile radius of it the rest of the time.


On Tuesday, Hamdan declined to answer whether he was wearing an electronic monitor and steered clear of making controversial statements on the advice of his attorney. He said he remained optimistic during his two years in jail at Terminal Island and became known as “a helper” for other inmates.

“Every day they brought in new detainees with different backgrounds, from different cultures and educational levels,” he said. “It was dangerous at times, but you learn to live with it.”

Before his arrest, Hamdan worked as a fundraiser for the Dallas-based Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic charity shut down by the U.S. in December 2001 for allegedly raising money for Hamas, designated as a terrorist group by the U.S.

Hamdan was accused of violating U.S. immigration law and ordered deported.


Hamdan, a Palestinian, was ordered deported to Jordan, where he grew up. Homeland Security officials insist he is a threat to national security but lost the legal attempt to keep him jailed.