An improved zeolite catalyst having enhanced dealkylation activity is provided. The catalyst is prepared by incorporating fluorine into the zeolite structure. In another embodiment, a transition element such as nickel is additionally incorporated into the zeolite structure. The process for producing the catalyst also includes ion-exchange and calcining steps. A mordenite type catalyst has been found to be particularly effective. The catalyst of the present invention demonstrates improved activity for the dealkylation of polyalkylaromatic compounds found in residue from the alkylation process and in heavy reformate streams from refineries. A dealkylation process using the catalyst of the present invention is provided. The dealkylation process shows good selectivity for benzene and monoalkylated aromatic products, and catalyst stability, particularly at high reaction temperatures.