WASHINGTON: US immigration authorities have deported a Pakistani national for laundering $2.2 million for Al Qaeda.
In a statement issued in Washington, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said 53-year-old Saifullah Anjum Ranjha was now in the custody of Pakistani immigration officials in Islamabad.
Mr Ranjha has been living in the United States since 1997 on a green card.
“Aliens living in the United States, who are engaged in or suspected of supporting terrorism, are a direct threat to our country’s national security,” ICE Director Sarah R. Saldana said in the statement.
With the United States nervous over recent terrorist attacks in the West, foreign-born terrorist suspects living in the country have become a top priority for deportation.
Recent terror-related removals include an Iranian man who allegedly exported sensitive helicopter components, a Turkish woman who allegedly supported overseas terrorist groups and a convicted hijacker who was sent back to Lebanon.
Mr Ranjha pleaded guilty in 2008 to laundering more than $2.2 million – which he believed to be the proceeds of illegal activities conducted by Al Qaeda, including drug trafficking and weapons smuggling.
This joint FBI, ICE and International Revenue Service investigation led to 42 arrests between 2008 and 2011.
Mr Ranjha, who owned homes in the District of Columbia and Maryland, used his money remitter business, Hamza Inc., to launder the funds internationally through an informal money transfer system called a “hawala”.
Mr Ranjha departed the United States last week from San Antonio International Airport in Texas under escort by deportation officers. Upon his arrival in Pakistan, he was turned over to authorities there at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad.
Last year, ICE removed 351 individuals classified as high-profile removals – 274 were wanted for crimes committed overseas, often of a very serious or violent nature; 20 were classified as human rights violators; and 54 were considered national security threats.
In fiscal 2015, ICE removed or returned 235,413 individuals. Of this total, 165,935 were apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States. The remaining 69,478 were apprehended in the interior of the United States, and the vast majority of these individuals were convicted criminals who fell within ICE’s civil immigration enforcement priorities.