Daoud Chehazeh is a known associate of the 9/11 hijackers. The government has spent more than half a million dollars trying to deport him, but has had no success. He has received free counsel from one of the top law firms in the country.
After the September 11th attack, Mr. Chehazeh contacted the FBI and reported information he had on the two men he met at a Virginia mosque. So he is a possible FBI informant.
Chehazeh played a similar role to Omar al-Bayoumi in California. Bayoumi was better able to conceal any involvement by Aulaqi whereas Chehazeh was not.
Facts as stated in Chehazeh's removal hearing[edit | edit source]
We present the facts as stated in Chehazeh‟s testimony at his removal hearing and in his sworn affidavit.
Chehazeh is a Syrian native and citizen who, prior to 1999, lived in Damascus and worked as a travel agent. As part of his business, Chehazeh helped his customers to obtain Saudi Arabian work visas through his contacts in the Saudi Arabian embassy. In 1999, one of those contacts allegedly defrauded Chehazeh of 7 million Syrian lire that Chehazeh had paid to obtain visas. Chehazeh was left indebted to his customers and so borrowed 3.5 million lire from several moneylenders to help meet those debts. Soon afterwards, he travelled to Saudi Arabia to confront the person he believed had defrauded him. After failing in that attempt, he came to the United States rather than returning to Syria. He was admitted to this country on July 3, 2000, on a non-immigrant visa that authorized him to stay here until January 2, 2001.
His family in Syria subsequently informed him that his creditors were pursuing legal action against him and had put a lien on his house. Chehazeh claims he was afraid that if he returned to Syria, he would be put in jail, and so he stayed in the United States after the expiration of his visa.
Chehazeh settled in Northern Virginia and began attending the Dar al Hijra mosque in Falls Church. Through that affiliation, he became acquainted with two Saudi men named Hanji Hanjour and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who told him that they were in the United States studying to become pilots. On at least one occasion, Hanjour and al-Hazmi visited Chehazeh in his apartment. On September 25, 2001, while watching news coverage of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Chehazeh recognized pictures of Hanjour and al-Hazmi and heard that they were two of the individuals suspected of perpetrating the attacks. Chehazeh “felt compelled to tell the U.S. authorities everything [he] knew about Hanjour and Hamzi [sic].” (App. at 41.) As a result, he made several attempts to contact the FBI, but his efforts were impeded by his inability to speak English. Finally, on September 28, 2001, he was able to communicate with someone at the FBI and, during an interview that day, provided FBI agents with the information he had regarding Hanjour and al-Hazmi. The FBI brought him in for additional questioning on October 1, 2001, after which – no doubt to his distress – he was detained and placed in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”).
On October 19, 2001, the INS issued a Notice to Appear charging Chehazeh with being a removable alien. He did not dispute his removability but submitted an application for asylum and sought withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). Prior to a merits hearing on his application, Chehazeh was transferred back to FBI custody on a material witness warrant. Although the timing is unclear, it appears that Chehazeh bounced between INS and FBI custody from November 2001 until the date of the eventual hearing on his asylum application on May 24, 2002.