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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 18, 2002

Moroccan may appeal deportation

By Mary Kaye Ritz
Advertiser Religion & Ethics Writer

Falah Abdelhak has until June 14 to appeal an order that would return him to Morocco.

The 35-year-old homeless man was arrested at 2 a.m. May 10 on charges of violating his visa and living in the United States illegally for the past 14 years.

On Wednesday, he admitted he violated his six-month visa in a hearing in Immigration Court, but Judge Dayna Dias denied a request that Abdelhak be allowed to voluntarily return to his native land.

"The judge did consider voluntary departure," said Immigration and Naturalization Service district director Donald Radcliffe, adding that would have allowed Abdelhak to put up a minimal bond, "walk out the door and leave voluntarily within one to four months."

Radcliffe said he was "extremely surprised the court would even consider that, not to mention his threats," noting the amount of time that Abdelhak had been here and the fact that he lives in his van.

The threats to which Radcliff referred were reported to the FBI by the leader of the Islamic mosque in Manoa. Hakim Ouansafi, head of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, said the homeless man had been sneaking into the mosque to sleep and had been ordered to leave by him and by past leaders.

"I'm exploding and it's going to be deadly," Abdelhak reportedly told Ouansafi. "I'm going to do something big that will hit the front page of the newspaper."

Ouansafi said he did give a statement to authorities about Abdelhak, and that the remarks concerned him.

"He might be 99 percent harmless, but I don't want to take a chance on that 1 percent," said Ouansafi, who said he called authorities when the statements were made May 9. "I'm not qualified to make that determination."

Abdelhak's lawyer, Jim Stanton, was to have discussed the appeal yesterday with his client, who is being held at the federal detention center near Honolulu International Airport. He criticized the lack of evidence in the case, noting that Ouansafi did not attend the hearing, nor was his sworn statement admitted.

"He's pretty angry about what he feels are false threats attributed to him," Stanton said.