Al-Najjar's Future Uncertain

Article excerpt

One person who knows well the horrors of being indefinitely detained is Mazen Al-Najjar. Al-Najjar was rearrested in November after being released less than a year earlier from three and a half years of detention on "secret evidence." He currently is being held in solitary confinement in a jail north of Tampa awaiting his next hearing.

His lead lawyer in the case, David Cole of the Georgetown University Law Center, argued that Al-Najjar's detention violates the Immigration and Nationality Act and the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution. Although some news organizations reported that Al-Najjar can be detained only for 90 days, Cole said that because his client's deportation case began before April 1997, when that law went into effect, the INS, if it decides he poses a threat to national security or a risk of flight, actually could detain Al-Najjar for up to six months without bond while it seeks to deport him.

Instead of holding him on secret evidence, the government is charging that Al-Najjar poses a security threat because he raised money for two groups it claims are fronts for the Islamic Jihad. "Those allegations about front groups and fund-raising were all made by INS last year and were fully aired in an immigration hearing, at the close of which the judge found no evidence to support the claim that they were front groups, and said they were legitimate," Cole responded. …