Corning man to be deported to Pakistan

Ali Mubarak, the Corning aircraft painter who was swept up in a government dragnet of Middle Eastern immigrants and potential terror suspects, has given up his fight to stay in the United States. After making a deal with immigration officials, he is set to be deported to an undisclosed city in his native Pakistan sometime this week.

Mubarak, 34, was thrown in jail for a visa violation June 2, when he and his wife tried to board a plane from Dallas to Sacramento. Mubarak has lived behind bars ever since, while the INS and FBI dragged out his bond hearing—typically a one- or two-hour procedure—for almost three months.

Although the government’s team of lawyers never actually charged Mubarak with any crime, they made much of the fact that Mubarak once roomed with Abdul Hakim Murad, a convicted terrorist with alleged ties to Al Qaeda.

Mubarak, who was questioned by the FBI just hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, never denied knowing Murad. But he has always claimed that he was unaware that Murad had any ties to terrorists until he found out about his conviction in 1995, about three years after the two had any contact. Mubarak and Murad traveled here together from the United Arab Emirates in 1991 to attend flight school.

Ali’s wife, Stephanie Mubarak, told the News & Review that her husband was in ill health and had lost hope that he would ever be released.

“His lawyers didn’t really want to give it up,” she said. “They thought they could win the case, but Ali didn’t want to spend the next—however long it would be—in jail while [the INS] appealed it.”

Despite the support of many friends and business associates in the Corning area, Mubarak apparently decided that his life in the United States was no longer worth spending an indefinite length of time in jail.

“Ali felt he would never feel comfortable living in the United States again,” Mubarak’s wife said. “He didn’t want to always have to be looking over his shoulder.”

Mubarak will leave behind two young children from a previous marriage whom he has supported for several years. It is unlikely he will see either of them again soon, because, as a deportee, he is forbidden from returning to the United States.

Stephanie Mubarak said she is in the process of selling the couple’s possessions and hopes to meet up with Ali in the United Arab Emirates, where his family lives. Ali’s family left Pakistan for the UAE when he was 3 or 4 years old, and he apparently has no friends or relatives still living in his birth country.

On her decision to follow her husband, Stephanie, who married Ali in 1999, said the experience of her husband’s detainment had left her embittered toward the U.S. government.

"This is not a free country," she said. "We’re supposed to be so much better than anyone else, and this is how we treat people? I’m done with it. I’m just looking forward to being with my husband again."