U.S. Deports 31 Men To Iraq, Lebanon, Cape Verde, 4 of ‘National Security Interest’

US deports 31 men to Iraq, Lebanon, Cape Verde; 4 of 'national security interest'

By Suzanne Gamboa
The Associated Press, May 28, 2010

WASHINGTON – Four men of 'national security interest' were among 31 people recently deported from the U.S., immigration officials said Friday. Most were flown to the Middle East.

One of the deportees was an Iraqi who had previous contact with a high-profile al-Qaida operative in Iraq. The level of contact was not deemed considerable, said an official with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Another Iraqi man had photos of himself with a group of unidentified men holding AK-47 assault rifles. He was considered a possible arms smuggler, the official said.

In all, 23 deportees went to Iraq, six to Lebanon and two to the island nation of Cape Verde off Africa's West Coast. They were flown by charter flight last week, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

One of the deported Lebanese men, the official said, was wanted by Lebanese law enforcement on a murder conviction related to a house bombing. A second man from Lebanon was linked to Michael Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah, a militant group, the official said.

Other deportees had U.S. and foreign criminal convictions including aggravated assault, burglary, assault weapons possession or drug charges, the official said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement regularly schedules flights to various foreign countries to return people deported from the U.S. to their country of origin.

The men returned to Iraq were taken to parts of the country deemed safe and where commercial air flights are regularly arriving and leaving, said Brian Hale, ICE spokesman.