December 28, 2008

Man in sham marriage to Houston exotic dancer faces deportation

Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, 44, was convicted of a sham marriage to a Houston exotic dancer
Associated Press
Dec. 28, 2008, 1:14PM

EL PASO — A Lebanese man questioned in a terrorism investigation and being held by immigration authorities in Texas faces deportation.

Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, 44, was being held at the El Paso federal detention center and could be deported, the El Paso Times reported Sunday.

The Department of Homeland Security initiated a case against Elzahabi and the Justice Department must now decide his immigration status, said Elaine Komis, spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Immigration Review in Falls Church, Va.

His hearing date, name of attorney and other information will not be released at this time because of a non-disclosure order, said Adelina Pruneda, a spokeswoman U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Antonio.

Elzahabi was convicted of possessing fraudulent immigration documents by a federal jury in August 2007 and turned over to ICE custody. According to federal prosecutors, Elzahabi entered into a sham marriage with a Houston exotic dancer and drug addict in 1984 to obtain legal permanent residency, also referred to as a green card. Officials say he promised Kathy Ann Glant, a waitress and dancer at the Pink Pussy Cat club, $5,000 to marry him.

Elzahabi came to the United States in May 1984 on a student visa, with plans to enroll in English as a second language classes at the University of Houston, officials said.

Federal investigators say Elzahabi has acknowledged attending a jihad training camp, being a sniper in Afghanistan and helping train a group seeking to overthrow the Lebanese government. However, Elzahabi has never faced charges of terrorism or committing violent acts.

He was arrested in May 2004 in Minnesota on a material witness warrant in a terrorism investigation. Before his arrest, he voluntarily underwent 17 days of questioning by FBI agents.

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