Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More news regarding raids

Is the Al-Mabarrat raid a repeat of what took place last year regarding LIFE for Relief & Development?

Is this an attempt to administratively close the charities through scarying away donors and banks from accepting their accounts?

Was it a coincidence that yesterday's raid took place on the same day of the Holy Land Foundation trial, the first American Muslim charity that has a trial regarding to terror related allegations?

Is the DOJ under Alberto Gonzales above politizing a trial through such manuveuring?

Time will tell.

...The other charity that was raided, Al-Mabarrat Charitable Organization, often holds fund-raisers in metro Detroit and enjoys support from many in the area. Federal officials maintain its founder, Hussein Fadlallah, is the spiritual leader of Hizballah and a terrorist. But the Treasury Department did not designate Al-Mabarrat as a terrorist group, which means it technically can still operate.

According to tax records, Goodwill Charitable received $167,628 in contributions in 2005 and $202,500 in 2004. Al-Mabarrat raised $954,027 in 2004, according to its tax records.

No arrests were made at either office Tuesday.

Tarek Baydoun of Dearborn, who raises money for Al-Mabarrat, said that the charity is an American group that has absolutely no ties to any terrorist organization. Baydoun said he was concerned that the group was raided even though it was not placed on any terrorism list.

"The doors of Al-Mabarrat are open, and the finances are completely transparent," Baydoun said. Al-Mabarrat still plans to hold a community fund-raiser in October, he said.

No one from Goodwill Charitable Organization could be reached for comment.

Goodwill Charitable is not affiliated with Goodwill Industries International or any of its member agencies, a Goodwill Industries official said.

Additional searches took place Tuesday in Michigan that were related to the Dearborn raids, said FBI Detroit Special Agent Dawn Clenney, but those warrants were sealed and she would not comment on them.

Some in metro Detroit's Muslim and Arab-American communities were concerned about the raids, calling them another government action that would hamper their ability to raise money for needy Muslims. In September, the FBI and other federal agencies raided the office of LIFE for Relief and Development, a Muslim charity based in Southfield. No arrests were made.

To address any possible concerns, Special Agent Andrew Arena, head of the FBI Detroit office, held a meeting Tuesday at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, a Shi'ite Muslim mosque.

"People are scared to donate" to charities or mosques, Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said of concerns raised at the meeting. Islamic law requires Muslims to donate a certain percentage of their income for needy people.(MORE)

...Imam Muhammad Ali Elahi hosted a hastily called meeting Tuesday at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights with top Detroit FBI officials and area leaders of various faiths. The FBI requested the meeting to talk about the raids and respond to concerns, he said.

"We expressed our concern that this pattern of dealing with Muslim charitable organizations may send a wrong message to the community and create some fear in the hearts of some people and discourage them from any kind of charity," the imam said.

Another charity raided in '06

Feelings are already raw over the FBI raid in September on the Southfield offices of Life for Relief and Development, a large and highly regarded Muslim charity under investigation in connection with its activities in Iraq. The raid happened on the eve of Ramadan, a holy month in which Muslims are required to give to worthy causes.

Life for Relief was not shut down and no charges have resulted, but the investigation continues. An Aug. 23 federal court hearing is scheduled over the charity's demands to have its seized property returned.

Al-Mabarrat, while smaller than Life for Relief, is larger and better-known than Goodwill Charitable Organization, with a stated budget of about $1 million compared with about $170,000 for Goodwill in 2005.

Dawud Walid, local director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said Al-Mabarrat is highly regarded, especially among Shia Muslims, and sends most of its support to southern Lebanon.(MORE)

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