The government can’t strip a terrorist of his U.S. citizenship, a federal judge ruled this month, in a decision siding with a Pakistan-born man who is serving the last few years of a 20-year prison sentence.

The case involves Iyman Faris, sentenced in 2003 for aiding and abetting al-Qaeda by scoping out New York’s Brooklyn Bridge as part of a plot to cut through cables that support it. His case was among the first and highest-profile terrorism cases after the September 11 attacks.

Faris met with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and worked with September 11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. A court filing last year in U.S. District Court in southern Illinois argued that Faris lied on immigration papers before becoming a naturalised U.S. citizen in 1999 and that his terrorist affiliations demonstrated a lack of commitment to the U.S. Constitution.

A truck driver

Faris, who is 49, was known as Mohammad Rauf before becoming a U.S. citizen, worked as a truck driver in Columbus and was married to an American woman for a while. He is scheduled for release December 23, 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Federal Judge Staci Yanle said this month there’s not enough evidence to prove that Faris’s misrepresentations influenced the decision to grant him citizenship.

One of the many objections raised by Faris’ attorney is that the government’s action violated the terms of his 2003 plea agreement, which never included the possibility of denaturalisation or deportation.

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