Faisal Shahzad, the Connecticut man accused of driving an explosives-packed SUV into Times Square, should lose his American citizenship, U.S. Rep. Peter King said yesterday.
"This is an act of treason," said King (R-Seaford). "This is someone who is attempting to kill Americans because they're Americans and has allied himself with a foreign enemy."
The process of revoking citizenship, called denaturalization, is rarely done, experts said.
The process was used on citizens who turned out to be former Nazi guards who lied about their past in their immigration cases, experts said. John Demjanjuk, a guard at three Nazi concentration camps, was deported last year after his citizenship was revoked. Karl Linnas, a former Nazi guard living in Greenlawn, was denaturalized in 1986 and deported to the Soviet Union in 1987.
Shahzad, who became a U.S. citizen in April 2009, could lose his citizenship if he is found to have lied on his citizenship application. One question asks if the applicant has ever been a member of or associated with a terrorist organization. Shahzad's connections to terrorist groups overseas remain unclear.
"If they found evidence of his membership in a terrorist organization at the time he swore that he was not, that would be the basis for the [government to] . . . vacate the order of naturalization," said Hempstead immigration attorney Linda Nanos.
Shahzad, like all new citizens, also faces what is basically a five-year probationary period. A provision of federal law allows the federal government to revoke citizenship within five years of naturalization from anyone found to be working with a "subversive" organization.
Such cases are exceedingly rare, said Kris Kobach, a Kansas immigration attorney who helped write Arizona's tough new immigration statute.
"It's obviously unusual," said Kobach, who said he did not know of such a case. "It's not a provision of federal law that gets invoked very often."
On Saturday, May 1, an NYPD officer found smoke coming out out a car in Times Square. The area around Seventh Avenue and 45th Street was evacuated, and the bomb squad found propane and other potential explosives in the vehicle. On May 3, Faisal Shahzad was arrested and eventually charged with attempted terrorism.