A routine border check yielded a big surprise earlier this month when U.S. border guards searched a Mexican BMW and found a hardline Muslim cleric hidden in the trunk.
Said Jaziri, a Tunisian cleric banned from entering France and Canada, gained international notoriety after calling for the death of Kurt Westergaard, a Danish cartoonist who drew images of the prophet Mohammed. He is also known for having lied about his criminal past while seeking amnesty and being forcefully deported from Canada in 2007.
While in Montreal, Jaziri served as head of the Al-Qods mosque and called for Shariah Law for Canada. Upon deportation, Jaziri left behind a pregnant wife who protested his punishment.
Jaziri and his driver were both arrested as they tried to sneak him across the border into southern California.
Jaziri is currently being held as a material witness in relation to criminal immigrant smuggling charges facing his driver. According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the Muslim cleric allegedly paid a Tijunana-based smuggling cartel $5,000 to get him across the U.S.-Mexico border and to a “safe place” in the United States.
According to the court documents, a Mexican guide led Jaziri and a Mexican immigrant over the border fence near Tecate.
They then trekked across the rugged terrain under cover of darkness to a spot popular for drivers who pick up immigrants for smuggling runs into San Diego.
He allegedly told officials he had flown from Africa to Europe, then to Central America and Chetumal, Mexico, on the Mexico-Belize border, where he took a bus to Tijuana.
News of Jaziri’s detention comes just one day after border officials reported finding a book celebrating suicide bombers in the Arizona desert, just north of the U.S.- Mexican border.