Former IRA member arrested at Philadelphia airport

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA - A former member of the Irish Republican Army was
arrested at Philadelphia International Airport after he answered "No"
on a form that asked if he had ever been involved in terrorist
activities, authorities said.

Joseph Black, 46, who served three years in a Belfast prison in the
late 1970s for his involvement with the IRA, was detained by
immigration officials Wednesday after arriving on a flight,
authorities said.

He was arraigned Thursday on a charge of making a false statements on
an immigration form and ordered held at a federal jail until a
hearing later this month.

Prosecutors said Black's offense was a pair of incorrect answers on a
standard customs form given to short-term visitors to the United

One question asked, "Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an
offense or crime involving moral turpitude?" The other asked, "Have
you ever been or are you now involved in espionage or sabotage; or in
terrorist activities?"

Black answered "No" to both, authorities said.

European citizens usually pass through U.S. customs unchallenged, but
FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were
apparently alerted to Black's arrival and detained him for

During the interview, authorities said, Black told the agents that he
had been arrested in Ireland in 1977 for shooting someone in the knee
and for being a member of an IRA group. He said he served three years
and is no longer an IRA member, officials said.

Black was arrested after agents decided that his failure to disclose
his past on the customs form was a crime.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia refused to say why
agents initially stopped Black, or how they knew he would be
traveling through Philadelphia.

A magistrate appointed the Federal Defender's Association of
Philadelphia to represent Black on Thursday, but calls to the office
went unanswered.

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