The FBI is looking into a Lebanese-born Muslim man, who posed as a Hasidic Jew and lied his way into marrying a Brooklyn girl. He then claimed to be a US spy for the National Security Agency (NSA) after the girl found out about his ethnicity to protect his wild story. Eliyah Hawila, 23, whose real name is Ali Hassan Hawila, told his wife that he was an NSA worker after she stumbled upon his Lebanese passport and caught him in a lie.
Hawila came into contact with Sally, a Jewish woman of Syrian descent who lived in Brooklyn, New York, while he was living in College Station, Texas. The two of them struck an online relationship. Hawila and Sally eventually got married at a ceremony in New York, which was not attended by a single member of the groom's family, according to The Times of Israel. A few weeks into their marriage, Sally found his Lebanese passport and got suspicious about his past.
It turns out, Hawila had woven an elaborate backstory about his non-existent Jewish roots. He even learned Hebrew to be able to recite Jewish prayers and signed up to a local Chabad community center at Texas A & M University in College Station, where studied the Torah. Hawila is originally a member of a Shiite family from southern Lebanon.
'They took her away from me'
In an interview with Kan TV, Hawila noted after his wife, Sally's parents got suspicious, her father googled his last name, and somehow found his father, who told him the truth about him not being a Jew. Hawila had already lied to his wife that he was an NSA agent on a mission after she had found out his Lebanese passport and tried to feed the same story to her parents also. Sally and her parents contacted the authorities and she was relocated to a safe house. "I was panicking, and they took her away from me, they separated her away from me," said a visibly grieving Hawila after being separated from his wife.
No terrorist connection
The FBI is now probing the case and Hawila's claims that he worked for the NSA as he had even produced a 'fake letter' supposedly from co-workers at the agency to prove his employment. The US Department of Homeland Security along with the Israeli consulate in New York is investigating the possibility that Hwalia came into the country illegally. No suggestion of him being involved in terror-related activities or falsifying any documents is found so far.
Hawila told the Times of Israel that he always felt a connection with Jewish culture. So much so that he had started calling himself Jewish, which was frowned upon in his home country. According to Hawila, when he moved to the US with his parents, he searched for synagogues in the area, hoping to convert. "When I got rejected I started just saying I'm Jewish," he said.
'I just want to convert and live a Jewish life'
According to Hawila, he did everything for his wife, whom he loves a lot. He added that he never meant to hurt her, and now that they're living apart, he can only hope she would give him a second chance. "I want her to know she is the love of my life," Hawila said. "I just want to convert and I want to live a Jewish life," he added. The outlet noted that even if Sally decides to give their marriage a second chance, her orthodox community will prohibit her from marrying a convert.