Fed Court Upholds Deportation Of Iraqi Refugee

POSTED: 5:13 pm PDT September 19, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court in San Francisco decided Friday to uphold the U.S. government's bid to deport an Iraqi refugee who allegedly tried to help an al-Qaida operative enter the United States in 1999.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an immigration judge's finding that Sam Malkandi, 47, of Kirkland, Wash., was a danger to national security because of his alleged ties to an operative variously known as Tawfiq bin Attash, Salah Mohammed or Khallad.

A three-judge panel agreed with the immigration judge's conclusion that Malkandi wasn't credible when he told the FBI in 2004 he was only trying to help an unknown friend of a friend obtain a visa to travel from Yemen to obtain a prosthetic leg at a Washington clinic in 1999.

Judge Margaret McKeown wrote, "All in all, the story Malkandi told explaining his efforts to help Khallad enter the country was highly implausible."

Bin Attash is alleged to have directed attacks on two American embassies in Africa in 1998 and to have participated in the attack on the USS Cole in a Yemeni port in 2000. He lost his right leg while fighting with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in 1997.

Bin Attash was denied a visa in 1999 but was captured in Pakistan in 2003 and is now being held by U.S. authorities as an enemy combatant. President Bush said at the time of his capture that he was "one of the top al-Qaida operatives."

Malkandi, an Iraqi Kurd whose original name was Sarbaz Abulgani Mohammad, entered the United States as a refugee with his family in 1998 and settled in the Seattle area. He changed his name to Sam Malkandi in 2001.

He appealed after an immigration judge denied his asylum bid and ordered him deported in 2006. He has been held in federal detention centers in Seattle and Tacoma since 2005.

One of Malkandi's lawyers, Shaakirrah Sanders of Seattle, said, "We're extremely disappointed by the court's ruling." She said Malkandi's attorneys are "in the process of evaluating the options" and haven't decided what step to take next."

http://www.ktvu.com/news/17517016/detai ... n&psp=news