FBI raid turns up 134,000 dollars in home of Life for Relief and Development board member and Imam of Michigan mosque
September 22, 2006
September 22, 2006
Raid turns up cash in home
FBI seizes $134,000, computers and photos in Muslim charity probe.
Paul Egan and Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News
Federal agents investigating the Muslim charity Life for Relief and Development seized more than $134,000 in cash from the Ann Arbor home of Mujahid Al-Fayadh, a board member and founder of the organization, newly filed federal court records showed Thursday.
Agents also seized Iraqi military decorations, a computer, photographs, videotapes and fundraising brochures in the Monday raid on the home of Al-Fayadh, who is also the imam and project manager of the Hidaya Muslim Community Association in Ann Arbor.
The seized cash included $76,568 found in a Meijer shopping bag, according to court filings.
Mohammed Alomari, a spokesman for Life for Relief, said Al-Fayadh is a fundraiser for both Life for Relief and the Ann Arbor mosque. That is likely the reason he had a large amount of cash in his home, Alomari said.
Life for Relief officials and leaders in the Arab and Muslim community Thursday urged continued support for the 15-year-old charity, which provides humanitarian relief in Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Dubai, Sierra Leone and other countries.
Leaders at the news conference said Life for Relief is crucial to providing health care and education in troubled countries. Continued support is especially important on the eve of Ramadan, a holy month in which Muslims are required to contribute to good causes, they said.
"We hope that this unfortunate situation will be resolved soon," said Imad Hamad of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. "We declare to the world that Life is still sound and functional, and we would urge our community to make a point by donating to make a point that donations to Life are not illegal."
Al-Fayadh's home was one of five locations searched Monday by FBI agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in connection with what the FBI will only say is a criminal investigation.
Nobody has been arrested or charged.
The other locations searched, according to federal records, were the Life for Relief headquarters on 10 Mile Road in Southfield; the offices of the nonprofit agency's accountant, A & A Management on Telegraph Road in Southfield; the Dearborn offices of Focus on Advocacy & Advancement of International Relations LLC, headed by Muthanna Al-Hanooti; and the Ypsilanti home of Khalil Jassemm, Life for Relief's chief executive officer.
Computers, fax machines, cell phones, payroll records, a briefcase and a 1997 Chevrolet van were among the items seized.
The affidavit that convinced a federal judge to issue the warrants remains sealed, but the records shed more light on what agents were seeking.
The FBI sought financial records going back as far as 1995 and "records related to the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Iraqi Accord Front, the Al-Tawafuq Front, the Islamic Relief Agency, the Islamic African Relief Agency and Human Appeal International."
Agents also sought long-distance telephone records and records related to the transfer of funds to Iraq and Jordan.
The Iraqi Islamic Party is a Sunni political party that has formed a coalition with other Sunni parties known as the Iraqi Accord Front or the Al-Tawafuq front, said Alomari. The agencies named were based in the United Arab Emirates, he said.
Alomari and Huda Fahmy of Life for Relief said federal officials told them the investigation is not related to terrorism.
They said it is likely related to a financial matter, possibly to taxes or to charitable contributions to Iraq before the fall of Saddam Hussein.
You can reach Paul Egan at (313) 222-2069 or [email protected].
Raided charity aided by Columbian
FBI won't say if the Columbia and Michigan raids are connected
By DEREK KRAVITZ
September 20, 2006
A businessman whose southwest Columbia home was raided by federal agents Monday said he has acted as a spokesman and raised money for a Muslim charity near Detroit that is under investigation by the FBI.
A dozen federal agents searched the home of Shakir Abdul-Kaf Hamoodi, 54, and his wife, Lamya Mukhlef Najem, 40, on Monday, removing boxes and computer equipment throughout the day.
FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza declined to comment on whether the daylong search of Hamoodi's home at 2701 Woodberry Court was connected to Monday's similar raid of the offices of the Muslim charity Life for Relief and Development in Southfield, Mich. Reasons for the two raids have not been disclosed because warrant details are sealed.
Hamoodi, reached Tuesday at his Columbia grocery store, World Harvest International and Gourmet Foods, said he has worked with the Michigan charity in the past because of the help it provides orphaned children. He said federal agents asked him about his involvement with the nonprofit organization.
"I've worked for them for several years in projects not only in Iraq, but in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Hamoodi said. "But it was originally established to help Iraqi children."
Khalil Jassemm, the CEO of Life for Relief and Development, said Hamoodi is a frequent speaker and fundraiser for the Muslim charity. Jassemm said he invited Hamoodi to Detroit last weekend to discuss the charity's plans for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts Sunday.
Hamoodi returned to Columbia on Monday afternoon after learning that the FBI had raided his home.
"I know him to be extremely intelligent, well-disciplined, and a thoughtful and caring man," Jassemm said. "He's done nothing wrong."
Jassemm said Hamoodi frequently speaks to community groups and mosques about the plight of Iraqi orphans. He has been a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq.
An in-house attorney for Life for Relief and Development, Ihsan Alkhatib, said the FBI is investigating whether the Michigan charity worked in Iraq before the war, when legal sanctions were in place.
"They asked about our work in Iraq before the fall of Saddam (Hussein)," Alkhatib said Tuesday.
Life for Relief and Development was founded in 1992 by a group of Iraqi-Americans in response to "the humanitarian crisis that developed in Iraq as a result of the 1991 Gulf War conflict," according to the charity's Web site.
In response to Monday's federal raid, several Columbia religious and business leaders have scheduled a news conference for Wednesday morning at First Christian Church, 101 N. Tenth St., to show their support for Hamoodi and his family.
Members of the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation, a Columbia religious group that preaches nonviolence, said they would also protest the "insidious, detestable variety of apparent racial-profiling and singling out of political dissidents, particularly those of Arab heritage," that Monday's FBI raids represent, according to a news release.
Rashed Nizam, the chairman of the governing board of the Islamic School of Columbia-Missouri, where Najem, Hamoodi's wife, is a first-grade math teacher, said the Hamoodi family is stressed but coping. Nizam said the local Muslim community has rallied behind Hamoodi, his wife and their five American-born children.
"They're a little bit shocked, but after everyone showed their support and visited, they are much more comfortable," Nizam said.