Terrorism Task Force Strips West Memphis Palestinian of Citizenship

MAY 3, 2005 - Posted at 4:26 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - An investigation by an Arkansas terrorism task force has led to the conviction of a Palestinian-born West Memphis convenience store owner and the stripping of his U.S. citizenship.

U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins said today that Hasan Ali Ayesh was sentenced to five years probation and had his citizenship revoked for withdrawing more than $6.4 million without reporting it, for wire fraud and for naturalization fraud.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force of the prosecutor's office, the FBI and the Arkansas Immigration and Customs Enforcement office found that Ayesh had withdrawn $9,900 six-hundred-and-fifty times to try to get nearly $6.5 million past federal authorities.  Cummins said today that Ayesh sent a large portion of the money out of the country.

The task force also found that by swearing he wasn't involved in any criminal activity, Ayesh also lied under oath to obtain his U.S. citizenship.

Cummins said Ayesh wasn't charged with any terrorism-related offenses, but the large amount of money involved was a red flag to the task force.  Cummins said that Ayesh's Arab ethnicity was not the reason the task force got involved, and a naturalized person from Ireland or Lithuania would have received the same attention for the same activity.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)