Complaint From The U.S. Attorney`s Office About Religious Worker Visa Fraud In Mosques


“According to a complaint from the U.S. Attorney`s Office in New York unsealed last week, Muslim religious leader Muhammed Khalil, his son Asim, and three other individuals submitted false R visa applications on behalf of more than 200 Middle Eastern aliens.”

 

Michelle Malkin, The Religious Worker Visa Scam Feb 11. 2002

 

 

 

Approved:

          DAVID P. BURNS/EDWARD C. O’CALLAGHAN

          Assistant United States Attorneys

 

Before:   HONORABLE KEVIN NATHANIEL FOX

          United States Magistrate Judge

          Southern District of New York

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – x        FILED UNDER SEAL

 

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA                                          :           COMPLAINT

 

                        – v. –                                                    :           Violation of                                                                  18 U.S.C. § 371

MUHAMMAD KHALIL,                                                        :          

AKHLAQ AHMED,                                                               

ISHRAT LNU,                                                                        :

ASIM KHALIL, and                                                                COUNTY OF OFFENSE:

MOHAMMAD AMIN AHMAD,                                            :           NEW YORK

                                   

            Defendants.                              :                                              

                       

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – x

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, ss.:

 

            CHRISTOPHER QUINN, being duly sworn, deposes and says that he is a Special Agent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”), and charges as follows:

 

COUNT ONE

 

            1.   From in or about 2000, through and including in or about December 2002, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, MUHAMMAD KHALIL, AKHLAQ AHMED, ISHRAT LNU, and ASIM KHALIL, the defendants, and others known and unknown, unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed together and with each other to violate the laws of the United States, to wit, to violate Section 1546(a) of Title 18, United States Code.

 

            2.   It was a part and an object of the conspiracy that MUHAMMAD KHALIL, AKHLAQ AHMED, ISHRAT LNU, and ASIM KHALIL, the defendants, and others known and unknown, unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly would and did possess, obtain, accept, and receive an immigrant and non-immigrant visa, alien registration receipt card and other document prescribed by statute and regulation for entry into and as evidence of authorized stay and employment in the United States, knowing it to have been procured by means of a false claim and statement and to have been otherwise procured by fraud and unlawfully obtained, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1546(a).

 

Overt Acts

 

            3.   In furtherance of the conspiracy and to effect the illegal object thereof, the following overt acts, among others, were committed in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere:

 

                 a.   On or about November 21, 2001, MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, during an interview conducted in New York, New York, told federal agents that all of the individuals whom he assisted in applying for green cards were religious workers who taught the Koran, Islamic history and Arabic language.  

 

                 b.   On or about August 9, 2002, MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, received $3,800 as a down payment from a cooperating witness (the “CW”) for an application to obtain a work visa.

 

          c.   On or about August 30, 2002, ISHRAT LNU, the defendant, had a conversation with the CW in Brooklyn, New York about creating false religious documents.

 

          d.   On or about September 25, 2002, AKLAQ AHMED, the defendant, provided the CW with false documents including a degree from the University of the Punjab and a certificate in Islamic studies.

 

                 e.   On or about October 10, 2002, ASIM KHALIL, the defendant, met with the CW and discussed an application to obtain a work visa.   

 

          f.   Many of the individuals who were approved under the INS’s Religious Worker program based on applications submitted by MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, received their green cards through the INS in New York, New York.  

 

(Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.)

 

COUNT TWO

 

            4.   From at least in or about August 2002, through and including in or about December 2002, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, MUHAMMAD KHALIL and MOHAMMAD AMIN AHMAD, the defendants, and others known and unknown, unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed together and with each other to violate the laws of the United States, to wit, to violate Section 408(a)(6) of Title 42, United States Code.

 

            5.   It was a part and an object of the conspiracy that MUHAMMAD KHALIL and MOHAMMAD AMIN AHMAD, the defendants, and others known and unknown, unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly, and with intent to deceive the Commissioner of Social Security as to the true identity of any person, would and did furnish and cause to be furnished false information to the Commissioner of Social Security with respect to information required by the Commissioner of Social Security in connection with the establishment and maintenance of the records provided for in Title 42, United States Code, Section 405(c)(2), in violation of Title 42, United States Code, Section 408(a)(6).

 

Overt Acts

 

            6.   In furtherance of the conspiracy and to effect the illegal object thereof, the following overt acts, among others, were committed in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere:

 

          a.   On or about August 30, 2002, while located in New York, New York, MOHAMMAD AMIN AHMAD, the defendant, had a telephone conversation with the CW about obtaining a false Social Security card for the CW.

 

          b.   On or about September 14, 2002, MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, gave the CW a Social Security card in the false name of “Amjad Ali Chaudhry.”

 

(Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.)

 

            The bases for my knowledge and for the foregoing charges, are, in part, as follows:                   

           

            7.   I am a Special Agent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”), and I have been involved in the investigation of the above-described offenses.  The information in this Complaint is based on my training and experience, my personal participation in this investigation, and information received by me from other law enforcement officers involved in this investigation.  This Complaint is also based on interviews with a cooperating witness (the “CW”) who has provided reliable information during the course of this investigation.[1]  Because this affidavit is being submitted for the limited purpose of demonstrating probable cause, it does not include details of every aspect of my investigation.  Where I relate statements, conversations, and actions of others, those statements, conversations, and actions are related in substance and in part, except where otherwise indicated.

 

            8.   Based on my own participation in this investigation, including my review of reports and records, and my discussions with other agents, I learned that MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, is the owner of Ditmas Greeting Cards, a variety and greeting card store located at 511 Ditmas Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.  KHALIL is also the director and Imam of Dar Ehya Essunnah mosque (the “Mosque”) which is located in the basement of 511 Ditmas Avenue. 

 

            9.   I have reviewed INS records which reflect that since 1993, MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, in his capacity as director of the Mosque, has sponsored over 200 applications for aliens seeking to obtain immigrant and nonimmigrant work visas through the INS’s Religious Worker program.  In 2001 alone, KHALIL sponsored approximately 134 Religious Worker applicants. 

 

            10.  To meet the requirements of the Religious Worker program, a qualifying religious organization (such as a mosque or other qualifying tax exempt religious institution) must file an application with the INS certifying, among other things, that the alien applicant:

 

            (a)        is a minister, or professional or other religious worker;

 

            (b)        is in the United States solely to engage in a religious vocation or to work for a bona fide United States religious organization;

 

            (c)        has been a member in the sponsoring religious organization’s denomination continually for two years; and

 

            (d)        has received a job offer as a religious worker and will not be working in any secular employment.

 

An alien seeking to qualify for an immigrant visa – which enables an applicant to obtain a “green card” (i.e., lawful permanent resident status) – under the Religious Worker program must also establish that he or she has had continuous experience in a religious worker position for the two years immediately preceding the filing of the Religious Worker program application.

      

            11.  I have reviewed the INS’s Alien Registration files of many of the individuals who were approved under the INS’s Religious Worker program based on applications submitted by MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant.  Many of those individuals received their green cards through the INS in New York, New York.

            12.  Based on my participation in this investigation and my conversations with other agents, I learned the following:

 

                 a.   In or about November 2001, a witness (“W-1″) was interviewed by agents while in INS custody following his arrest on immigration charges.  During the interview, among other things, W-1 stated that MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, was the director of the Mosque, where W-1 had been living.  W-1 stated that he paid KHALIL $5,000 to $6,000 to sponsor W-1 under the INS Religious Worker program.  According to W-1, KHALIL had filed fraudulent paperwork for numerous other individuals to obtain work visas under the Religious Worker program.  W-1 said that he saw non-religious workers pay KHALIL $5,000 to $6,000 to file Religious Worker applications for them.

 

                 b.   In or about November 2001, a witness (“W-2″) was interviewed by agents while in INS custody following his arrest on immigration charges.  Among other things, W-2 identified MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, as the director of the Mosque, where W-2 had been living.  W-2 stated that KHALIL had offered to sponsor W-2 under the Religious Worker program. KHALIL told W-2 that it would cost $8,000 for the Religious Worker petition, and then refused to sponsor W-2 when W-2 was unable to obtain the $8,000 to pay KHALIL.  W-2 also admitted to agents that he was not a religious worker. 

 

                 c.   In or about January 2002, a witness (“W-3″) was interviewed while in INS custody after his arrest on immigration charges.  W-3 stated that in July 2000, while working as a livery cab driver in New York, he began living in the Mosque.  W-3 paid $110 per month in rent to MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, to live in the Mosque, which is located in section of the basement of 511 Ditmas Avenue and which W-3 described as filthy and cockroach-infested with poor sanitary conditions.  W-3 also stated that very few people ever came to the Mosque to pray.  Indeed, when W-3 wanted to pray, he went to another Mosque located on Foster Avenue in Brooklyn.  While W-3 was living at the Mosque – and working as a livery cab driver – KHALIL offered to sponsor him under the Religious Worker program in exchange for $7,000.  Among other things, KHALIL told W-3 to get a letter from either a mosque or religious institution in Egypt, indicating that W-3 was a religious worker who was studying Islam and that he desired to go to the United States to teach Islamic studies.  W-3 told KHALIL that he was a medical doctor, not a religious worker or scholar.  Ultimately, W-3 declined KHALIL’s offer to sponsor him under the Religious Worker program.  

 

            13.  On or about November 21, 2001, MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, was interviewed by federal agents at INS offices in New York, New York.  During the interview, among other things, KHALIL told the agents that he had helped approximately 193 people apply for green cards.  KHALIL stated that he kept the applicants’ files at 511 Ditmas Avenue. KHALIL also stated that each applicant gave a donation to the Mosque – the usual fee was $20, but some applicants gave thousands of dollars.  KHALIL further told the agents that all of the applicants were religious workers and that all of them taught the Koran, Islamic history and Arabic language.

 

            14.  From in or about July 2002, up to and including in or about December 2002, the CW engaged in a series of in person meetings and telephone conversations with MUHAMMAD KHALIL, AKHLAQ AHMED, ISHRAT LNU, ASIM KHALIL, and MOHAMMAD AMIN AHMAD, the defendants.  Those meetings and conversations – many of which are summarized below – were conducted primarily in Urdu/Punjabi and were recorded.  The following paragraphs in this Complaint are based on my discussions with the CW, my review of draft translations of the CW’s recorded conversations with the defendants, my discussions with agents who surveilled meetings among the CW and the defendants, and my own participation in this investigation.

 

            15.  On or about August 9, 2002, the CW met with MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, inside the Ditmas Greeting Cards store at 511 Ditmas Avenue.  During this meeting, the CW informed KHALIL that the CW needed to obtain papers from the INS that would allow the CW to remain in the United States past the date that his visa expired, and which would allow the CW to work at a job that the CW already maintained.  During this meeting, KHALIL agreed to sponsor the CW under the Religious Worker program, even though the CW did not have any religious training and even though KHALIL knew the CW had a non-religious job, in exchange for an initial payment of $5,000 and a subsequent payment of $1,500.  KHALIL provided the CW with sample certifications that showed the type of religious education, training and experience that should be included in an application to the Religious Worker program.  KHALIL told the CW to use the samples to create documents for the CW’s application to the Religious Worker program.  At the meeting, the CW paid KHALIL $3,800 as a down payment for the application.  KHALIL also told the CW that it would take approximately one year to get approved under the Religious Worker program, and that KHALIL could help the CW obtain a real Social Security card so that the CW could get a higher paying job in the interim.  Later that day at 511 Ditmas Avenue, KHALIL introduced the CW to MOHAMMAD AMIN AHMAD, the defendant. AMIN AHMAD told the CW that he could provide the CW with real Social Security cards and drivers licenses.

 

            16.  I have reviewed documents that the CW received from MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, on or about August 9, 2002.  Those documents contain handwriting that the CW has told me is that of KHALIL.  The documents confirm the amount of money ($3,800) that the CW gave to KHALIL on or about August 9, 2002 as a down payment for the Religious Worker application.  The documents also include sample certifications for completion of a Nazra Quran Course, which KHALIL told the CW were necessary for the Religious Worker application and which KHALIL modified in handwriting to demonstrate to the CW how the CW should create his own fraudulent certifications to submit with the Religious Worker application. 

 

            17.  On or about August 23, 2002, the CW met again with MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, at 511 Ditmas Avenue. During this meeting, KHALIL told the CW that it would cost $2,300 to purchase a real Social Security card in any name that the CW wanted to use.  The CW made a $500 down payment to KHALIL, which KHALIL agreed to give to MOHAMMAD AMIN AHMAD, the defendant, for the Social Security card.  KHALIL told the CW to use a different name on the Social Security card than the name the CW was using on the Religious Worker application.  KHALIL suggested that the CW use a “fake name” for the Social Security card, specifically suggesting the false names “Amjad Hussain” and “Mohammad Amjad.”                                  

            18.  On or about August 30, 2002, the CW placed a telephone call to MOHAMMAD AMIN AHMAD, the defendant, who was located in New York, New York.  During the call, the CW asked AMIN AHMAD how many days it would take to receive the “Social Security” and AMIN AHMAD admonished the CW not to “mention the name on the telephone.”  AMIN AHMAD told the CW that the Social Security card could be “done within a week or a week and a half,” and that the CW should clearly write “whatever name” that the CW wanted to appear on the card.  In addition, among other things, AMIN AHMAD told the CW to make payment for the Social Security card to MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant.

 

            19.  Also on or about August 30, 2002, the CW met with ISHRAT LNU, the defendant, at Syed Professional Services located at 1006 Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.  During the meeting, the CW presented ISHRAT with sample documents that had been given to the CW by MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, for use in the Religious Worker program application.  The CW explained to ISHRAT that he (the CW) needed similar documents created in his name in connection with the CW’s application as a religious worker.  The CW also told ISHRAT that he needed a “paper for a BA” degree, despite the fact that the CW was “not well educated.”  ISHRAT told the CW that the documents would be prepared “on Pakistani paper” using “a Pakistani typewriter.”  According to ISHRAT, it was necessary to use a typewriter rather than a computer, because “in those days these religious documents were not possible to be made on computer.”  ISHRAT instructed the CW to return the following morning so that ISHRAT could introduce the CW to the individual who would create the false documents.  At the end of the meeting, ISHRAT told the CW not to “talk on the phone” about these matters.   

 

            20.  Later in the day on or about August 30, 2002, the CW met with MUHAMMAD KHALIL and MOHAMMAD AMIN AHMAD, the defendants, inside the store at 511 Ditmas Avenue.  At the meeting, the CW paid AMIN AHMAD $1,800, which was the balance due for the false Social Security card.  The CW, KHALIL and AMIN AHMAD also agreed on the fake name of “Amjad Ali Chaudhry,” as the name to appear on the Social Security card.  The CW also paid KHALIL an additional $300 for the Religious Worker application.  In addition, KHALIL and the CW discussed the “papers” that were being made for $500 by another individual for the CW to include in the Religious Worker application.  KHALIL told the CW that if the individual who was creating the false documents could also create a “BA degree” for the same price, the CW should have the degree made.

 

            21.  On or about September 14, 2002, the CW met with AKHLAQ AHMED, the defendant, at Syed Professional Services in Brooklyn.  During the meeting, the CW showed AHMED the sample documents that KHALIL had provided to the CW for use in the application to the Religious Worker program.  AHMED told the CW that he (AHMED) could prepare the documents using a Pakistani typewriter and paper so that the documents would appear genuine.  The CW paid AHMED $360 to prepare the false documents.  Specifically, AHMED agreed to provide the CW with a college degree from the University of the Punjab, an intermediate school degree and a certificate in Islamic studies. 

 

            22.  I have spoken to an INS official who randomly selected four of the over 200 Religious Worker program applications submitted by MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, to the INS, and learned from that official that each of the four applications included diplomas from the University of the Punjab.  A records check with the University of the Punjab revealed that all four of those diplomas were fraudulent.

 

            23.  Also on or about September 14, 2002, the CW met with MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, inside the store at 511 Ditmas Avenue.  During this meeting, KHALIL gave the CW the Social Security card that the CW had ordered on August 30. The Social Security card was in the name of “Amjad Ali Chaudhry.”  At this meeting, the CW also paid KHALIL an additional $200 for the Religious Worker program application.

 

     24.  I have reviewed the Social Security card in the name of “Amjad Ali Chaudhry” that was given to the CW by MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant.  I have also spoken to an official from the Social Security Administration who advised me that the Social Security card in the name of “Amjad Ali Chaudhry” was issued by the Social Security Administration and mailed to 511 Ditmas Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.  

 

            25.  On or about September 25, 2002, the CW met with AKHLAQ AHMED, the defendant, at Syed Professional Services in Brooklyn.  At this meeting, AHMED provided the CW with the false documents that the CW had previously ordered, including the degree from the University of the Punjab and a document certifying that the CW has had experience teaching Islamic history, among other things.  The CW also paid AHMED $360 and ordered a second set of false degrees and certificates in the name of “Nasir Naseer,” whom the CW said was a “friend.”

 

     26.  I have reviewed the documents provided by AKHLAQ AHMED, the defendant, to the CW on or about September 25.  The document certifying that the CW has had experience as a religious teacher is notarized by AHMED. 

 

            27.  Also on or about September 25, 2002, the CW met with MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, inside the store at 511 Ditmas Avenue.  During this meeting, the CW paid KHALIL the remaining $300 balance for his Religious Worker program application.  In addition, the CW paid KHALIL $2,500 towards the purchase of a second Religious Worker visa for the CW’s “friend”, whom KHALIL had never met.

 

            28.  On or about October 10, 2002, the CW traveled to the store at 511 Ditmas Avenue to meet with MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, and show KHALIL the false documents that the CW had obtained for submission with the Religious Worker program application.  When the CW arrived at the store, he met KHALIL’s son, ASIM KHALIL (“ASIM”), the defendant, who advised the CW that his father was not at the store.  ASIM reviewed the CW’s documents, including a false diploma for a bachelor degree.  The CW told ASIM, “This is the bachelor degree . . . This looks exactly like a genuine one . . . doesn’t it?” and ASIM responded, “No problem, it is perfect.”  The CW later told ASIM, “I didn’t even graduate from high school.”  ASIM also reviewed the other documents that the CW brought, and told the CW that he (the CW) needed to change some of the documents to reflect additional religious worker experience and to increase the number of children that the CW was claiming to be tutoring in Islamic studies.  ASIM also told the CW to “make” a “Nazra certificate” for the application.  At the end of the meeting, ASIM phoned MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, and told him, “One brother has come . . . The person who had asked us to do his case . . . He came to show the papers . . . .”

 

     29.  I have reviewed a handwritten note given by ASIM KHALIL, the defendant, to the CW during their meeting on or about October 10.  The note reflects an instruction from ASIM to the CW to obtain a “Nazra Certificate” and other documents certifying that the CW has “two years at least” experience rather than “one year experience” as a religious worker.  In the note, ASIM also writes: “Children – at least eight more.  -has four children,” which is a reference to the change ASIM wanted the CW to make in the false documents regarding the number of children the CW would claim he was tutoring in Islamic studies in the CW’s Religious Worker program application.

 

            30.  On or about October 17, 2002, the CW met with MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, inside the store at 511 Ditmas Avenue.  During the meeting, KHALIL again told the CW that he needed a Nazra Quran certification.  KHALIL explained that he used to have Nazra Quran certificates but had gotten rid of them.  KHALIL made several attempts to contact someone to create this certification for the CW, but was unsuccessful.  KHALIL told the CW that the CW would have to create the certificate himself.  KHALIL also provided the CW with sample Nazra Quran certificates, which KHALIL modified in handwriting to apply to the CW.  In addition, KHALIL provided the CW with a handwritten note advising the CW of the dates and other information that the CW should include on the false Nazra Quran certificate.  (The CW later provided me with the papers that KHALIL had given to the CW.)

 

            31.  On or about October 28, 2002, the CW met with AKHLAQ AHMED, the defendant, at Syed Professional Services.  At this meeting, the CW showed AHMED the sample Nazra Quran certificates that had been provided to the CW by MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant.  AHMED told the CW that he (AHMED) could make the certificate for the CW, but that he needed to obtain Pakistani paper to make the document appear genuine. 

 

            32.  On or about November 18, 2002, the CW met with MUHAMMAD KHALIL, the defendant, inside the store at 511 Ditmas Avenue.  During the meeting, among other things, the CW showed KHALIL the Nazra Quran certificate that the CW had created.  KHALIL pointed out that the dates on the certificate had to be changed to reflect the way that dates are written in Pakistan. 

 

     33.  On or about November 26, 2002, the CW met with AKHLAQ AHMED, the defendant, at Syed Professional Services.  At this meeting, AHMED provided the CW with a Nazra Quran certificate and other false documents regarding the CW’s purported training and experience as a religious worker.  AHMED also provided the CW with false documents for “Nasir Naseer,” including a diploma from the University of the Punjab, which the CW had requested.  

 

          WHEREFORE, deponent prays that warrants be issued for the arrest of the above-named individuals and that they be arrested and imprisoned, or bailed, as the case may be.

 

 

 

                                                                        _________________________________

                                                                        CHRISTOPHER QUINN

                                                                        Special Agent

                                    Immigration and

            Naturalization Service

 

 

Sworn to before me this

___ day of February, 2003.

 

 

_______________________________

UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK                                        


            [1]  The CW is a paid informant who has a pending application with the INS for permanent resident status.