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Fawaz Damra

Born: 1961;

Place of Birth: Nablus, West Bank;

Studied: Islamic law, Jordan;


As soon as he arrived in the United States back in the mid-1980s, he became an active religious figure in the Muslim American community.

After serving as imam, or spiritual leader, at the al-Farooq mosque in Brooklyn, NY from 1986 to 1990, he moved to Cleveland, where he headed northeastern Ohio’s largest mosque, the Islamic Center of Greater Cleveland, from 1991 to 2005.

In late-September 2001, a television station in Cleveland aired a leaked videotape speech Damra made ten years earlier, in 1991. On that tape, he recommends the stabbing of Jews in Israel and urges the crowd to point “a rifle at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation, and that is the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews.”

In 1995, when the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York named 170 possible co-conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Damra’s name was on the list. He was questioned by the FBI in connection with the bombing, but not charged or arrested.

His successor at the Brooklyn mosque, the militant Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel-Rachman, was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks and is now serving a life-sentence.

Before living in Ohio, Damra spent time in New York City where he was affiliated with the Al Kifah Refugee Center. The center was was established as the American-based affiliate of Mekhtab al-Khidemat, which later became Al Qaeda after the Soviet-Afghan war ended.

During his time as an Imam in Cleveland, Damra raised funds for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad through the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP), an organization headed by Sami Al-Arian.

In 1989, at the 2nd Annual ICP conference in Chicago, speaking on a panel with the spiritual leader of PIJ, Damra stated: The first principle is that terrorism, and terrorism alone, is the path to liberation. This has its point of departure God, the Great and Almighty’s, words: “And make for them whatever you can of fighting men and horses, to terrify thereby the enemies of God and your enemy.” The second principle is that “settlement is decided by the sword.” That which finalizes the matter – struggle for the cause of Palestine – is the military solution.

During a 1991 fundraiser, he told his audience that Al-Arian’s Islamic Committee for Palestine was “the active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine” but used a different name for “security reasons.” At the same conference, he openly raised funds for violent jihad. Damra was deported to the West Bank in January 2007.

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