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No citizenship rights to terrorists: Senator Lieberman

world Updated: May 05, 2010 08:11 IST
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It is time that citizens involved in acts of terrorism should be stripped of their nationality, a US Senator has said, in the wake of the arrest of Pakistani-born US national Faisal Shahzad, the suspect behind the Times Square bomb plot.

"I think it's time for us to look at whether we want to amend that law to apply it to American citizens who choose to become affiliated with foreign terrorists organisations, whether or not they should also be deprived automatically of their citizenship and therefore be deprived of rights that come with that citizenship when they are apprehended and charged with a terrorist act," Senator Joe Lieberman told the Fox News in an interview.

Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said that he is trying to amend an old US law that says if an American citizen is found to be fighting in the military of a nation with whom the US is at war, they lose their citizenship.

The Senator, however, denied that he was targeting the Pakistani-Americans in general.

"I think that, I wouldn't want to single out a group. Rest assured that people travelling to certain countries, particularly going to areas of the country that, Pakistan for instance, may have contact with radical, anti-American Islamists, extremists. One way or another, we are watching them very closely and they should know that," he said.

There were many loyal Pakistani-American citizens and they were probably most angry and embarrassed when somebody committed an act like this, Lieberman said while praising the community.

"But, you know, you raise a point and some of us have started to talk about it here, which is, you know, there is an existing law, which hasn't been much used. It says that if an American citizen is shown to be fighting in a military force that is an enemy to the US, then that person loses their citizenship and they no longer have the rights of citizenship. That's an old law that was adopted during a very different time of conflict," he said.

In a statement, Lieberman said the FBI, New York City Police Department, Department of Homeland Security and Connecticut law enforcers deserve the gratitude for breaking open this case quickly.

"But let's not forget that but for the grace of God and the sheer incompetence of the suspect, this explosion could have taken place as planned, and many people might have died," he added.