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Lashkar founder disowned by US-based brother
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January 29, 2007 20:20 IST

Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Hafeez Saeed has been disowned by his brother, who is facing deportation proceedings in the US.

"I am not his brother," Imam Muhammad Masood, a controversial cleric at a mosque in Massachusetts, told local clergy who met him in a show of support.

He said that some people might suspect him because his brother (Saeed) currently heads Pakistan's Jammat-ul-Dawa, which has been accused of involvement in terror activities in many countries, including India. Both the outfits are banned in the US.

"He disavowed any relationship, certainly with his brother's politics," Deacon Mike Iwanowicz, who represented Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, at an interfaith meeting last week, was quoted as saying by the daily Patriot Ledger.

Masood and his son Hassan were picked up by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents on November 15 as part of a multi-state sweep on 33 immigrants, mainly Pakistanis. Most of them were charged with having fraudulent obtained religious-worker visas.

The cleric, who is fighting a legal battle against his deportation, said that he does not remember the last conversation he had with his brother.

Masood has been buoyed by support from Christian and Jewish clergy. Last week, Protestant pastors and a representative from the local Roman Catholic parish pledged a variety of help for the Sharon mosque's former spiritual director- everything from raising money to pay family expenses to a letter of support that will be sent to US lawmakers.

"We will be advocating on his behalf, if we can," Rabbi Barry Starr of Temple Israel said, adding: "We have no reason not to believe him."
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