The Lessons of the Wissam Allouche case: About lies, not terrorism


Wissam Allouche arrested by the JTTF

Flag of the Lebanese Shia Amal Movement

The Lessons of the Wissam Allouche case:
An American Lebanese Shiite Muslim caught in the government and media dog- and- pony show

Wissam Allouche, a Lebanese Shia immigrant from Lebanon was sentenced to five years in prison for lying on his citizenship application and for lying to get a security clearance from the Department of Defense. The US government had asked for a ten- year sentence.

Allouche’s criminal case began in 2013 and he was tried and convicted in 2015 in the Western District of Texas district court.  After conviction, the US Attorney for the Western district of Texas issued a press release that read in part:

“Jurors found that defendant lied about his previous association with the Amal militia This afternoon in San Antonio, a federal jury convicted 45–year-old Lebanese–born Wissam “Sam” Allouche of knowingly lying to federal authorities on his U.S. citizenship petition about his relationship with the Amal militia, announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin, Acting United States Attorney Richard Durbin, Jr., and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.

Following a two-week trial, jurors convicted Allouche of making a false statement to a federal agent and an unlawful attempt to procure and obtain naturalization and citizenship. Evidence presented during trial revealed that Allouche, who migrated to the United States after marrying a U.S. Army soldier, failed to disclose to U.S. immigration authorities the fact that in the 1980s, he was a member of the Amal militia in order to remain in the United States. In addition, while seeking a contract linguist position with the U.S. Department of Defense that required top security clearance, evidence revealed that Allouche failed to disclose that he was held as a prisoner of war by Israel. Present and former relatives testified Allouche later made statements that he subsequently killed an Israeli pilot captured by Hezbollah in retaliation for his imprisonment.
Allouche remains in federal custody pending sentencing scheduled for April 27, 2015. He faces up to ten years in federal prison.”

The indictment filed on May 15, 2013 had three counts, below is an excerpt from the indictment:



"COUNT ONE
[18 U.S.C. § 1425(b)]

            On or about January 12, 2009, within the Western District of Texas, the Defendant
WISSAM ALLOUCHE,
for himself, a person not entitled to naturalization and citizenship, knowingly procured and obtained, and attempted to procure and obtain naturalization and citizenship by falsely stating regarding his Form-400 Application for Naturalization, Part 10, Question 9.c, “No” in response to the question “Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with a terrorist organization?” when in truth and fact the Defendant was a fighter in the Amal militia in Lebanon during the early to mid-1980s and after his release as an Israeli prisoner of war, the Defendant was made a commander in the Amal militia; as an Amal commander, the Hizballah fighters in his sector had to notify the Defendant of their operations. Hizballah is classified by the United States government as a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.
            In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1425(b).
COUNT TWO
[18 U.S.C. § 1425(b)]

            On or about January 12, 2009, within the Western District of Texas, the Defendant,
WISSAM ALLOUCHE,
for himself, a person not entitled to naturalization and citizenship, knowingly procured and obtained, and attempted to procure and obtain naturalization and citizenship by falsely stating regarding his Form-400 Application for Naturalization, Part 2, Question B, Defendant claimed that he and his wife were married and living together for the last three years, when in truth and actuality, the Defendant and his wife they had not lived together since May 2007 and filed for divorce in Bexar County on December 7, 2007.
            In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1425(b).
COUNT THREE
[18 U.S.C. § 1001]

            On or about October 14, 2009, within the Western District of Texas, the Defendant,
WISSAM ALLOUCHE,
knowingly and willfully made a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch, to wit: in order to gain security clearance from the United State Department of Defense, on his Form SF-86, Questionnaire for National Security Position, Section 29 Question g, “Have you EVER participated in militias (not including official state government militias) or paramilitary groups?”, the Defendant answered “No” when in truth and fact, the Defendant was a fighter and commander of the Amal militia in Lebanon during the early to mid-1980’s.
            In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(2)."

Not a terror-related case
Just because Mr. Allouche is a Shiite Lebanese does not make his immigration case terror related. He was charged and convicted for lying to the government authorities about his membership in Amal. He was a member of the Lebanese Shia Amal Movement. Amal is not a designated terror group.  In his capacity as an Amal commander, he was in contact with Hizbullah. Hizbullah is classified as a terror group. But it is highly doubtful that the mere contact he had with Hizbullah in Lebanon during his involvement with Amal would count as an illegal association with Hizbullah that would lead to imprisonment and/or deportation. Interestingly, there is a terrible history of violence between Amal and Hizbullah.  The time Allouche was in Amal, there were violent clashes between Amal and Hizballah. In fact, the clashes resulted, in part, from  Amal not wanting Hizbullah to conduct operations against Israel that would invite reprisals against the Southern civilian population.

The media follows the government’s lead: Allouche as a terror case
Some media sources have gotten the facts of the case mixed up. Allouche was not charged with being a Hizbullah member or a former Hizbullah member as a mysanantonio article described him. He was neither charged nor convicted of being a member or a former member of Hizbullah. The bottom line is that Allouche lied on his application. Allouche also had marital problems. But he also seemingly lived an otherwise law-abiding life. He even volunteered to work in Iraq as a linguist when it was vital for US armed forces to have linguists and being a linguist was a very dangerous undertaking in Iraq.

Reasonable minds would agree: Allouche was neither a terrorist nor a security risk
Was Wissam Allouche a national security risk? Despite the fact the Joint Terrorism Task Force led the investigation and made the arrest, there is zero evidence that, at any point in time, even during his Lebanon years, Allouche was even remotely a risk to US security. He was a member of the Shia Amal Movement, a movement that used to be the leading Shiite Lebanese group before Hizbullah eclipsed it. His involvement with Amal led him to contact with Hizbullah- and it was contact during a period when the relationship was adversarial turning into bloody violent.

Had Allouche not lied on his citizenship application and his security clearance application, he would not have been in his situation now facing a five year imprisonment followed by deportation to Lebanon.  

Allouche made mistakes but the critical fact here is that he is a victim of a bad marriage and the war on terror. Allouche is an American Lebanese Shiite Muslim caught up in the government and media  WOT dog- and- pony show





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Interview with internationally renowned cookbook author Hadia Zebib Khanafer:

Imad Hamad's column in the Detroit News: Defending the human rights of police officers

Interview with Zackery Heern, author of The Emergence of Modern Shi‘ism