Popular U.S. Muslim singer indicted for alleged HAMAS role

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

26 January 2010: Mohamad Mustapha Ali Masfaka, 47, more well known as Abu Ratib, a popular singer of Islamic religious songs in the Muslim world, was arrested last week on charges of attempted naturalization fraud, making false statements to FBI investigators and immigration officials, and perjury. According to federal investigators in a press release dated 22 January 2010, the singer reportedly lied about his involvement with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), an organization that was designated by the U.S. Department of Treasury on December 4, 2001, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist [organization]. According to federal investigators, Masfaka praised HAMAS during some of his international performances subsequent to the 2001 designation of HAMAS as a terrorist organization.

The indictment (PDF format) was unsealed on Friday.

Masfaka, is a native of Syria but has been residing in the suburban Detroit community of Farmington Hills, Michigan. He was arrested as he attempted to re-enter the U.S. from Canada via the Ambassador Bridge. During a hearing held in federal court in Detroit on Monday, the singer pleaded not guilty to the charges. A detention hearing is scheduled for this Thursday.

In 2008, a federal jury in Dallas, Texas convicted the HLF and five of its employees of 21 charges, including providing millions of dollars in material support to the designated terrorist organization, Hamas.  Masfaka’s is alleged to have been employed by HLF in 1997 and 1998 and ran the HLF operations in the Detroit area to include organizing and participating in fund raising events for the HLF, according to federal officials.

If convicted, Masfaka faces up to 23 years’ imprisonment and $750,000 in fines.

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