As part of a settlement deal, Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye, 57, agreed to acknowledge that he had given false information to immigration officials in July 1997 when he applied for U.S. citizenship.
In return, even though he was on the no-fly list, the government arranged for him to fly to Somaliland, where he arrived last week.
Kariye became a naturalized citizen in 1998.
The government made a case that Kariye failed to reveal his past associations with Islamist extremists in his application for U.S. citizenship.
Specifically, government lawyers said Kariye, originally from Somalia, had direct dealings with Osama Bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam, the founders of al-Qaeda, and that while in the U.S., he recruited members for the radical group Maktab Al-Khidamat (a precursor to al-Qaeda).
U.S. authorities also said that Kariye was a founding officer and director of the Global Relief Foundation, which funded al-Qaeda and other terror groups.
After coming to the U.S. on a student visa in 1982, he then went to Afghanistan, where he attended a jihadi training camp and fought with jihadis against the Soviets. According to the immigration charges against him, he helped funnel fighters in Pakistan to jihad training camps. He was eventually arrested for these activities and spent four months in a Pakistani prison.
Kariye served for many years at Portand’s largest mosque, Masjed As-Saber. He was arrested in 2002 and pleaded guilty to using a false social security number and defrauding the state Medicaid program by lying about his income to receive state-funded health insurance. He was sentenced to five years on probation.
The federal government wiretapped conversations revealing that Kariye gave $2,000 to each of seven Portland Muslims to go to Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The seven traveled to China, hoping to reach the battlefield through Pakistan. All but one were turned back and returned to the U.S. in 2002 where they were eventually arrested and convicted.
One of those involved said that Kariye preached that Muslims are obligated to fight U.S. forces overseas.
Kariye was put on a no-fly list and was one of a group of people who successfully sued the government to reveal why an individual is placed on the list.
In October 2018, government lawyers revealed to a federal appeals court that Kariye was placed on the no-fly list because of his history as a “mujahedeen fighter in Afghanistan against the Russians,” as well as his expressed support for “violent jihad” in conversations recorded between a cooperating informant and two members of the Portland Seven.