Saturday, September 23, 2006

Walid comments on how bogus allegations diminish America's image in the Muslim World

Ramadan Scare
FBI, IRS raid headquarters of charity

WASHINGTON - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) called on the FBI in a press release this week to provide a public explanation for what appears to be a series of coordinated raids against Muslim affiliated locations in Michigan and Missouri, including a major charity, three days before the start of Ramadan, when Muslims are religiously obligated to give alms to those in need by donating to charity.

The FBI raided the offices of Life for Relief and Development (Life), a Muslim-American charity organization located in Southfield, MI with United Nations affiliated-status and U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense authority to operate in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also the only Muslim-American charity with a permit by the Government of Israel to operate in Israel, assisting Palestinians. The FBI also raided the home of the charity's CEO in Michigan Dr. Khalil Jassemm, the offices of the nonprofit agency's accountant, A & A Management on Telegraph Road in Southfield and the Dearborn offices of Focus on Advocacy & Advancement of International Relations (FAAIR) LLC, headed by Muthanna Al-Hanooti, as well as the home of a Muslim community leader in Missouri.. (This came only three days after a community outreach event there to strengthen ties between the community and the FBI which was held at a local mosque.)

"These raids serve as a major obstacle in the continuing endeavors to build trust and communication between Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities and the federal government," the release said. "In a post September 11 world, this interaction has proved vital for the national security of our nation and the protection of our communities."
ADC's Midwest Regional Director, Imad Hamad, said Life is sound and operational and urged the community to donate during Ramadan.

Life's external legal counsel, attorney Shereef Akeel, called the raids disappointing. "It's very disappointing because Life always kept an open door policy and has been very transparent with the government. So for them to be subject to such an aggressive act is a breach of a trust that was established after 9/11 It was a strong cooperative relationship. Life invited all departments of government to come. The organization made PowerPoint presentations to inform everyone what the organization was about to alleviate suspicion."

"What adds insult to injury," Akeel said, "was how the media was there at the time. How did the media know to be present at the time of the raid? Clearly no one from Life would have called which certainly makes me suspicious. Why glamorize this and try to make this organization look guilty?

"There were no arrests, no charges against anyone for committing any indecent act or violation of laws. The organization is still open and running a legal charity. But the FBI said that this has nothing to do with terrorism, the organization is viable and open to donations. It's disappointing that they seemed to have the media there to generate the appearance that the organization was doing something wrong."

Said Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR-Michigan, "The actions of the FBI have international implications. Our government claims to be spreading democracy in the Mideast yet uses intimidating tactics on its own citizens and when Muslims in the states contact their family members back in the Muslim world about the bogus situation, it does nothing but further diminish the esteem that the Muslim world has for America.

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