E. Third apprehension of Mezer in the United States, January 14, 1997
1. The apprehension
In January 1997, Border Patrol agent Darryl Essing was assigned to the Border Patrol's Bellingham, Washington, office, which is located about 25 miles south of Blaine and the northern border. Essing was responsible for "interior enforcement" within Washington state. In that capacity, he attempted to apprehend individuals who had already entered the United States illegally. Essing explained that he routinely worked alone and focused on populated and well-lighted places,such as public transportation facilities, where he was more likely to locate illegal aliens.
On January 14, 1997, Essing was working the 3:30 p.m. to midnight shift and was the only agent from the Bellingham office working that evening. He went to the Greyhound bus station in Bellingham, and at approximately 10:20 p.m., noticed three "foreign-looking" males preparing to board a bus heading south to Seattle. Essing said he approached the men because they looked like they "did not belong" in the area. Essing said he asked the three men about their immigration status and they provided "deceptive" responses. Because they did not have documents showing that they were legally in the United States, Essing arrested all three -- Mezer, Fires Taleb Mohammad from Iraq, and Mohammad Khalil from Jordan.14 Essing transported the three to the Bellingham Border Patrol station, where each ultimately admitted to being in the United States illegally.
Essing said that he would not have begun deportation proceedings against Mezer for illegal entry alone. However, the dispatcher at Blaine Sector Headquarters informed Essing about Mezer's two previous illegal entries and voluntary returns to Canada, as well as Mezer's assault charge in Canada. Essing also learned, from the prior I-213 reports, about the suspicions that Mezer was an alien smuggler.
Essing told the OIG that he called a Canadian Immigration employee at White Rock, British Columbia (whom he would not identify), who advised Essing that Mezer had been returned to Canada before and that Canadian immigration authorities probably would not take him back again.15 Essing told us that although he suspected that Mezer was an alien smuggler from reading the I-213's from Mezer's previous two arrests, Essing was not inclined to pursue a criminal smuggling charge against Mezer based on the facts of his apprehension. Essingtold us that he observed no evidence of alien smuggling in this instance, nor did he have any basis for determining who was the alien smuggler.
Essing interviewed Mezer in more detail for the purpose of preparing deportation papers. Mezer told Essing that he was a Palestinian and did not recognize Israeli authority over him, that he had been arrested and jailed for civil disobedience for throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, and that the Israelis had suspected him of being affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization [not Hamas].
Firas Taleb Mohammad told Essing that his father was a high-ranking Iraqi official and had arranged for him to be smuggled from Iraq to Iran to Turkey. Essing thought Taleb's father must have had "connections" to arrange to smuggle his son through three countries, including Iran, which was a major sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East. Essing also considered it unusual for Mezer, a Palestinian, to be traveling with Mohammad, an Iraqi.16
2. The arrest forms
Essing decided to enter all three men into deportation proceedings. Essing wrote I-213s for each of the three men on the evening of January 14, 1997. In his I-213 report regarding Mezer, Essing wrote that he stopped the three men as they were preparing to board a south-bound Greyhound bus; that Mezer had a Vancouver address, while the other two men had Ontario addresses; and that Mezer had two prior arrests for entering the United States and was accompanied by another Middle Eastern individual at the time of the Ross Lake arrest. Essing added that Mezer was born in Jordan but claimed that he was a Palestinian and was now stateless. The report stated that Mezer did not have a passport and that he claimed that the Israeli government issued him a travel document, but that he no longer used it. The I-213 also noted that Mezer had been convicted in Toronto of assault, and the charge was conditionally discharged, with a one-year probation. Essing said that he learned the background information from the Border Patrol dispatcher. Essing also wrote that "it appears that [Mezer] is an alien smuggler."
Essing told us that he did not mention on the I-213 form Mezer's admission of being a suspected member of the PLO because it was not proven and because Mezer did not try to conceal anything during the interview. He told us that he suspected that Mezer was "something more than an alien smuggler," but he was not specific about what he meant by that. He said he did not state this concern on the I-213 form because its purpose is merely to establish deportability, and this type of suspicion was not relevant for this purpose.
Essing told us that he decided to notify the FBI about his apprehension of the three men. Essing stated in a memorandum after Mezer's arrest in Brooklyn that he may have referred the three men to the FBI as "possible terrorist[s]." He told us, however, that he did not necessarily suspect a "connection with terrorism," and that he simply thought that the men might be of interest to the FBI because of their nationalities and the chance that Mezer was "something more than an alien smuggler."
According to Essing's memorandum to his supervisors, he telephoned Ramon Garcia, the supervisory agent in the two-person Bellingham FBI office, to report the arrest of Mezer, but no one answered Essing's call. Essing wrote that he called the FBI Bellingham office several times and eventually left a message on that office's answering machine. Essing wrote that he could not remember the entire message he left but thought that he reported that he had arrested three persons who could be of interest to the FBI office. During our interview of Essing, he was considerably more tentative about whether he left such a message, stating that while he thought that he had left a message on the FBI answering machine, he could not be sure.
Essing also told us that he had tried to advise the FBI of the arrests by providing the FBI Bellingham office with copies of his I-213 arrest reports for the three men. Essing said that he attempted to deliver these copies to the FBI office on at least two or three occasions, but that no one was in the office when he went to deliver the reports, and he did not leave them. Essing stated that about a month after his arrest of the three men, he mentioned the Mezer case to Secret Service Agent James Tomscheck, who also worked in Bellingham, in connection with another INS and Secret Service case involving an alien in possession of bomb-making materials. According to Essing, Tomscheck requested a copy of the I-213 reports for Mezer and the two other aliens, which Essing left for Tomscheck at the Blaine Sector Border Patrol Office. Essing said that he thought that Tomscheck had subsequently picked up these reports.
When we interviewed FBI agents Ramon Garcia and Cathy Fahey, the two agents in the Bellingham FBI office, they said that had no recollection of receiving a recorded message or any documents from Essing about the Mezer case. Secret Service agent Tomscheck also denied ever discussing the case with Essing, ever seeing any intelligence reports about Mezer, or ever picking up any materials at the Blaine Border Patrol Office for forwarding to the FBI. Neither the Bellingham nor the Seattle FBI offices had a copy of Essing's I-213 report in their files.
On January 16, 1997, Intelligence Agent David Keller distributed another Intelligence Report about Mezer's recent arrest to the Blaine Sector Border Patrol stations. Keller's report briefly reviewed the circumstances of Mezer's first two arrests by the Border Patrol on June 24 and June 29, 1996, and reported that Mezer had been arrested a third time on January 14, 1997, with two other individuals. The report provided identifying information about the three men, stated that the Border Patrol had been unable to develop sufficient information for prosecution for alien smuggling, and stated that all three men were awaiting deportation hearings in Seattle.
F. Mezer's deportation proceedings
1. Initial bond
According to Border Patrol agents who described the typical procedure for deportation proceedings in the Blaine Sector, the agent who detains an alien and begins the deportation proceeding requests an initial bond amount for the alien. This initial recommendation is reviewed by either the Border Patrol Chief, the Deputy Chief, or another supervisor in Blaine Sector Headquarters, all of whom can reset the bond at a higher amount if warranted.
On January 15, 1997, the day after the arrests, Border Patrol agent Essing recommended a $15,000 bond for Mezer and $10,000 bonds for each of the other two individuals who had been arrested. Essing said that the difference in the amounts was based on Mezer's two prior apprehensions and his criminal record. A Border Patrol supervisor approved Essing's recommendation, and the three aliens were detained on the recommended bonds pending their deportation hearings. In the Seattle jurisdiction, aliens have to pay the full bond amount, because bail bond companies will not issue bonds in deportation cases due to the high risk of flight by aliens.
Robert Peck and Tammy Fitting, the INS trial attorneys in Seattle who handled several of the hearings in Mezer's deportation proceedings, told us that the typical initial bond for non-aggravated felons in the INS Seattle region ranges from $5,000 to $15,000, and that the $15,000 bond for Mezer, who was not a felon, seemed relatively high. Peck also reported that in his experience, immigration judges do not put a high degree of emphasis on allegations of alien smuggling when setting bonds, since this offense is not uncommon and, in Peck's opinion, is viewed as a "victimless crime." Judge Anna Ho, the immigration judge who presided over Mezer's initial proceedings, said that strong evidence of alien smuggling, or an actual conviction for this offense, would have provided a stronger ground for imposing a high bond.
On January 15, 1997, Essing presented Mezer with a document charging him with the misdemeanor offense of Entry Without Inspection. The document informed Mezer that he was required to attend a deportation hearing that would be scheduled in the near future. Mezer was also given a form entitled Notification to Alien of Conditions of Release or Detention, which informed him that a $15,000 bond had been set. Mezer signed a Request for Disposition form in which he admitted that he was in the United States illegally, but he also indicated on the form that "I believe I face harm if I return to my country" (referring to Israel). On this form, Mezer checked a box indicating that he requested "a hearing before an Immigration Judge to determine whether or not I may remain in the United States," based on his alleged fear of harm if he was returned to Israel.
2. The first hearing
In the Seattle region, one INS trial attorney normally does not handle a deportation case from start to finish. Instead, trial attorneys are assigned to handle an entire "trial calendar" before an immigration judge each day, which includes all the cases on the judge's docket for the day. In Seattle, trial attorneys handle approximately 20 to 25 cases per day, plus bond redetermination hearings.
On January 27, 1997, a "Master Calendar Hearing" was held to determine the status of Mezer's case: whether he admitted to entering the United States without inspection, in violation of Section 241 (a)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; whether he admitted that he was deportable; and whether he intended to file for asylum. At the time of this hearing, Mezer was still detained on a $15,000 bond. Peck, the trial attorney who handled the January 27 hearing for the INS, told us that from the INS' perspective, there were two important reasons for seeking an order of deportation from the immigration judge rather than agreeing to another voluntary return for Mezer. First, if Mezer was apprehended again trying to enter the United States illegally after a deportation order, he could then be ordered deported without another hearing (unless he filed an asylum claim citing new circumstances). Second, the government could charge Mezer with the felony crime of reentry after deportation if he illegally entered the country after an order of deportation.
At the January 27 hearing, Peck informed Judge Ho that Mezer had been convicted of assault in Canada, which had been conditionally discharged with a one-year probation, and that there was a reference in Mezer's A-file that he had been involved in alien smuggling when he was apprehended at Ross Lake. Mezer admitted at the hearing to the offense of Entry Without Inspection and agreed that he was deportable. Mezer also agreed not to contest a deportation order returning him to Canada but stated that he was afraid to return to Israel. Mezer added that he had obtained asylum in Canada based on his treatment in Israel. According to the transcript, Mezer did not say and was not asked why he was afraid to return to Israel. Peck told us that although he could ask Mezer about this statement or the facts of his Canadian asylum application at a later hearing, he had no reason to do so at the initial hearing on January 27, because Peck believed that Canada would voluntarily accept Mezer back.
Judge Ho explained to Mezer that an alien can only be ordered deported to a contiguous country like Canada if the alien is a resident of that country or has some type of legal status there.17 Mezer told the judge that he had applied to become a legal resident in Canada. Peck agreed to an order of deportation to Canada providing that Mezer had legal status there. Judge Ho signed an Order of Deportation to Canada, with the understanding that if Canada would not accept Mezer, the INS could reopen the case and Mezer would have the opportunity to initiate an asylum claim. Peck told us that at the time of this hearing, Mezer had neither filed a U.S. asylum application nor mentioned a suspected association with Hamas.
3. Canada's refusal to accept Mezer
On January 27, 1997, after the hearing, Peck asked an INS Deportation Officer in the INS' Seattle office to inquire if Canada would accept Mezer again. Peck explained that in such cases, a deportation officer normally telephones his or her Canadian counterpart to see if Canada will take the alien back. The Canadians normally inquire about various aspects of the alien's case, including his immigration status in Canada, known crimes, and the circumstances of his apprehension in the United States, and orally respond to the request.
INS Deportation Officer Tom Sebans, who was assigned to process these cases on January 27, 1997, could not recall the specifics of Mezer's case but stated that his records showed that he was on duty when the request was made concerning Mezer, and he thought he would have handled Peck's request to call the Canadian authorities. Sebans explained that in such cases, his normal procedure would be to call Canadian immigration authorities at the Port of Entry at Douglas, British Columbia, which is located directly across from the Blaine, Washington, Port of Entry. Although he did not remember the Canadians' response in the Mezer case, Sebans said that it was normal for Canada not to agree to accept an alien back who was apprehended within the interior of the United States, as Mezer was in this case. Sebans said that Canada's acceptance of Mezer's return on the first two apprehensions at the border was typical because Canada normally accepts aliens back who attempt to illegally enter the United States from Canada at or near the border, because they are not considered to have actually made an entry into the United States. Sebans further said that when aliens attempt to enter another country illegally while they have an application for Canadian immigration status pending, Canada normally considers that alien to have abandoned the application for any status in Canada.
Peck said that later on January 27, 1997, someone from the deportation section of the INS office informed him that Canada had refused to accept Mezer's return. As a result, the next day, Peck filed a motion to reopen Mezer's deportation proceedings, and Judge Ho granted the motion. At that point, according to the understanding at the January 27, 1997, hearing, Mezer had the opportunity to seek political asylum.
4. Reduction of Mezer's bond
The next hearing in Mezer's case was on February 6, 1997. The purpose was to determine whether Mezer wanted to apply for asylum in light of Canada's refusal to accept his return. At the hearing, Mezer told Judge Ho that he wanted to apply for asylum, and he asked for six days, until February 12, 1997, to file his application. Judge Ho agreed to this timetable.
As the hearing was concluding, Mezer asked the judge: "Could I have my bond reduced please? It's too high." The judge then held a "bond redetermination hearing," off the record.18 INS trial attorneys told us that immigration judges generally do not inquire about or disturb the initial bond amount set by the INS, unless the alien challenges the bond amount. The trial attorneys further explained that it is normal for bond redetermination hearings to occur spontaneously upon the alien's request and, as discussed above, the proceedings are not recorded.
Judge Ho said that in a typical case of Entry Without Inspection, when the alien lacks a criminal record, the INS normally requests a bond of $5,000, and she normally reduces the bond to $1,500. She said the central consideration in setting a bond is to ensure the alien's presence at future hearings. She considers whether the alien has the potential to establish asylum, whether the alien has relatives who are legal permanent residents in the United States, and whether the alien has an established residence in the area in which the deportation proceedings are being held.
Judge Ho said that Mezer argued for bond reduction on the grounds that he had friends who were cab drivers in Seattle who would help him post bond, and that he had relatives who lived in Chicago. Judge Ho believed that these assertions were relevant because they indicated that Mezer had ties in the United States, including ties to individuals in the Seattle area. Judge Ho added that the bond redetermination hearings occur very quickly and that while she attempts to assess the credibility of the alien's statements during the hearing, she does not have the ability to verify the information provided by the alien.
In response to Mezer's arguments, INS Trial Attorney Tammy Fitting argued for retaining the $15,000 bond based on the evidence of alien smuggling presented in the I-213 reports and also based on Mezer's simple assault conviction in Canada. After hearing these arguments, Judge Ho reduced Mezer's bond to $5,000. She told us that she took the assault conviction into account but gave little weight to the suspicion of alien smuggling suspicion because it was not proven. She added that a conviction for alien smuggling, rather than just a suspicion of it, would have provided stronger grounds for retaining the original bond amount. Judge Ho also stated that Mezer's three attempted illegal entries, in themselves, did not warrant a higher bond because they did not necessarily bear on the prospects for Mezer's presence at a future hearing. Judge Ho noted that the $5,000 bond she set was still significantly higher than the $1,500 bond that she generally set in cases involving a simple illegal entry charge when the alien does not have a criminal record.19
INS attorney Fitting acknowledged to us that the INS had not proven that Mezer was involved in alien smuggling and that a simple assault offense in Canada was not a deportable offense that would greatly affect a bond amount. Fitting stated that immigration judges routinely reduce bond amounts set by the INS, and that Mezer's original bond amount of $15,000 was relatively high for cases involving a person with a conviction such as simple assault. Fitting said that even aliens with serious convictions such as child molestation and drug dealing, in which the INS set "no bond," often had their bonds reduced to somewhere in the $10,000 to $12,000 range.
Fitting said that she did not appeal the reduction of Mezer's bond because it would have taken months and Mezer would still have been released pending the appeal. In addition, Seattle INS District Counsel David Hopkins stated that INS is usually unsuccessful in appealing such bond decisions, and bringing such an appeal in the absence of a clear error of law or in the absence of an egregious abuse of discretion was not warranted.
5. Mezer's release
By Mezer's next scheduled hearing, February 12, 1997, Mezer had not posted the bond. At the February 12 hearing, he informed Judge Ho that he had not yet completed his asylum application and asked for two additional weeks to do so. Judge Ho agreed to allow Mezer until March 5, 1997, to file the asylum application, but said she would grant no further extensions.
On February 14, 1997, Hussam Abu-Eisheh posted a $5,000 cashier's check for Mezer's bond, and he was released from detention. Abu-Eisheh completed a Bond Information Sheet, which sought identifying information about him, and filed it with the Seattle INS Office. On the Bond Information Sheet, Abu-Eisheh stated that he was of Jordanian nationality, and he provided a United States Social Security number and a Seattle, Washington, address.
The FBI agent who led the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) investigation of Mezer told us that the JTTF investigation had determined that Abu-Eisheh was a friend of Mezer and was an "illegal overstay" from Jordan at the time that he posted Mezer's bond. Abu-Eisheh told the FBI that he had come to the United States in 1995 on a student visa to attend the University of Indiana in Pennsylvania, but had stopped attending school and was working in Seattle. According to the JTTF, during Mezer's detention by INS, Mezer contacted Abu-Eisheh and asked him to telephone Mezer's uncle in Saudi Arabia and ask the uncle to provide the money for the bond. Mezer's uncle sent approximately $7,000 to Abu Eisheh, who used $5,000 to pay Mezer's bond and gave Mezer the remaining $2,000 after his release.
The INS Assistant District Director for Detention and Deportation in Seattle stated that in early 1997, the INS did not conduct any record checks on people who posted bonds, including criminal checks or checks on immigration status. The INS Deportation Clerk who processed Mezer's bond confirmed that she did not require any identification from Abu-Eisheh, but simply filled out the information on the necessary bond forms based on the information provided by him. INS officials said that they have subsequently initiated a new policy requiring people who post bonds to show identification and that the INS now verifies their immigration status.
When Mezer was released, no restrictions were placed on his travel. The only requirement was that Mezer had to appear for all future deportation hearings. An INS Deportation Officer confirmed that no travel restrictions are normally placed on aliens who are released on bond.
When Mezer was released on bond on February 14, 1997, his case was removed from the "detained docket," and the date for his next hearing, March 5, was changed. The Immigration Court sent a letter to Mezer informing him that his next court appearance would be a Master Calendar Hearing on April 7, 1997.
6. Mezer's asylum application
On April 7, 1997, the day of his next hearing, Mezer presented an asylum application that had been prepared for him by his immigration attorney to the INS District Counsel's office in Seattle. At the hearing, Mezer provided the asylum application to Judge Ho.
According to Mezer's asylum application, in 1967, several years before he was born, Israeli authorities expelled his family from its home in Jerusalem without compensation. Mezer's family moved to the West Bank of Israel. In 1980, his family's store and home in Hebron were destroyed by the Israelis. He wrote that his father encouraged his family to learn about Palestinian culture at the mosque, where he met "many people who were probably Hamas members." The application further stated that in 1987, at age fourteen, he participated in the Palestinian uprising known as the Intifada, and since that time, engaged in other protests and demonstrations seeking the return of Palestinian lands. Mezer wrote that in 1989, while he was participating in a celebration honoring "Abu Jihad," an Israeli soldier shot off part of a finger on Mezer's right hand.20
His asylum application reported that, as a result of his participation in these protests, he and his brother were detained on many occasions by the Israeli authorities, and the Israeli government continuously persecuted him, in part because it believed that he was a member of Hamas. He stated further that Israeli authorities detained him for almost two months in July 1990 and for three months in November 1990 for participating in demonstrations. Mezer claimed that during these detentions, he suffered physical and psychological torture, as well as sexual harassment and abuse. He wrote that he was also accused of being a member of Hamas based on his participation in "student union" protests.
Mezer's asylum application stated that from about March 1991 to about March 1992, Israeli authorities gave Mezer a green identity card that identified him as a security risk, and restricted his travel and residence to Hebron. Mezer claimed that during this time, Israeli soldiers beat and harassed him, raided his home, continually accused him of being a member of Hamas, and on one occasion, tied him to the front of an Israeli vehicle and drove him through the streets.
Mezer wrote that he decided to leave the occupied territories on April 1, 1993, when persons from the Israeli military governor's office demanded that he act as an informant about Hamas activities and threatened to detain and torture him if he refused. Mezer stated that on September 14, 1993, his family sent him to Toronto, Ontario, "to be safe, to study, and to try to get to the United States." He wrote that "although I obtained refugee status in Canada, I always intended to come to the United States and apply for asylum here." Mezer wrote that he feared for his life if he was returned to the occupied territories, in part because Israeli authorities believed he was associated with Hamas.
With regard to his association with Hamas, Mezer stated "I was not a member of Hamas, but I knew of persons who were."
In support of his claim that Israel authorities had detained him twice without cause, Mezer attached two documents from the International Committee of the Red Cross. One document reflected that Mezer was arrested on July 31, 1990, and held for 42 days for a "security" violation. The second document indicated that Mezer was arrested on November 25, 1990, and held for approximately 90 days for "administrative" reasons. These documents do not provide any details as to the underlying offenses.21
14 Mohammed Khalil is a different person from Lafi Khalil, the man who was later arrested with Mezer in the Brooklyn apartment, and we found no information that the two were related.
15 A Canadian immigration official told the OIG that Canada does not usually accept the return of aliens who are detained in the interior of the United States, as opposed to along the border. But as described below, Canadian authorities subsequently accepted the voluntary return of Firas Taleb Mohammed after deportation proceedings had been initiated against him. Firas Taleb Mohammad, unlike Mezer, had not been previously arrested attempting to enter the United States.
16 Mohammad Khalil's A-file indicates that he was born on October 5, 1974, and received a Jordanian passport on July 8, 1996. On October 15, 1996, he received a Canadian T-1 student/visitor's visa to attend the Global Village English Centers in Toronto, Canada. He was admitted to Canada on November 19, 1996. Six days later, on November 25, 1996, he filed an application for a U.S. visa at the American consulate in Toronto, which was denied. He then sought political asylum in Canada. On January 14, 1997, he was arrested with Mezer at the bus station in Bellingham.
17 Section 241 (b)(2)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that "an alien may designate . . . a foreign territory contiguous to the United States, an adjacent island, or an island adjacent to a foreign territory contiguous to the United States as the place to which the alien is to be removed only if the alien is a native of, or has resided in, that designated territory or island."
18 Neil Miller, the Chief Attorney Examiner for the Board of Immigration Appeals in Washington, D.C., explained that bond proceedings are considered to be separate from deportation proceedings, and deportation proceedings would be adjourned or continued to address issues of custody status appropriate for bond proceedings. Miller gave several reasons why bond proceedings are generally not transcribed. He said that bond proceedings are more informal and can be initiated by the alien at any time, orally, in writing, or telephonically; an alien's statements in this informal atmosphere, not under oath, should not be used against him in deportation proceedings, where testimony is formal and under oath; the judge can make determinations about the alien's credibility based entirely on hearsay that should not effect the merits of the deportation hearing; and the judge's rationale for why an alien warrants a particular bond should not affect the deportation hearing one way or another. Miller explained that at bond hearings, the judge takes notes of the arguments by both parties and then renders a summary decision with regard to custody status. If either party appeals, the judge is required to prepare a formal memorandum explaining the reasons for the bond decision. The memorandum then becomes part of the record for review by the Board of Immigration Appeals.
19 On January 29, 1997, Mohammed Khalil, one of the other men arrested with Mezer at the Bellingham bus station, also requested a bond redetermination hearing, and Judge Ho reduced his bond to $5,000. On February 27, 1997, Khamal Hourani, from Chantilly, Virginia, posted Khalil's bond. On July 8, 1997, at Khalil's request, venue for his asylum hearing was changed from Seattle to Arlington, Virginia, and his next appearance was scheduled for August 24, 1997. On August 1, 1997, Mohammed Khalil was arrested in New York in the aftermath of the raid on the apartment of Mezer and Lafi Khalil.
20 The fingerprint forms taken by the INS in Seattle on April 3, 1997, as part of Mezer's asylum application stated that no print could be taken of his right ring finger because it was "cut off."
21 Red Cross officials reported that these documents merely reflect information provided to them by the alien, and the Red Cross could not verify that the contents of these documents were accurate. Red Cross officials in Hebron, Israel, reported that Mezer came to the Hebron Red Cross office on September 18, 1990, and on March 5, 1991, and that the Red Cross recorded what Mezer told them. The Red Cross office in Washington told us that its Hebron office had contacted Israeli authorities and confirmed Mezer's information, although the Red Cross could not identify the Israeli authority who provided this confirmation.