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Militant Islam Monitor > Satire > Khalil Jassemm head of 'charity' raided for terror funding:"Muslims are part of the fabric of society and have a responsibility to bridge the gap between two cultures""

Khalil Jassemm head of 'charity' raided for terror funding:"Muslims are part of the fabric of society and have a responsibility to bridge the gap between two cultures""

September 22, 2006


Muslim Outreach Key for Promoting Understanding, Integration

American government, society encourage dialogue among citizens

"The [American] Muslim community realizes today they are part of the fabric of society, and they have a responsibility and opportunity to bridge the gap between the two cultures," said Khalil Jassemm in an April 11 webchat.

Jassemm serves as chief executive officer of the nonprofit, nongovernmental organization Life for Relief and Development (LIFE), which has provided more than $100 million in humanitarian assistance to ten countries around the world.

Jassemm said the attacks of September 11, 2001, served as a "wakeup call" for American Muslims. The subsequent war in Iraq and War on Terror "forced them to become more proactive, and do more out reach in the community, educate, and explain to the general public what Islam is really about," he said.

He estimated that 6 million to 8 million Muslims reside in the United States, and noted that every city with a population of more than 30,000 has a mosque or place to pray.

Negative media perception "is probably the biggest challenge facing Muslims today," Jassem said. "Only through hard work, positive engagement, a good outreach plan, and help from good citizens, this problem can be overcome."

For example, even though many non-Muslims stereotype the Muslim world as harboring negative feelings toward Americans, Jassemm said, "I don't think Muslims hate the U.S. at all. Islam never preaches hate against anyone." He pointed out that no single aya (verse) in the Quran uses the word "hate."

Although some Muslims may disagree with certain U.S. policies, government policy is only "one element of the relationship" - with factors such as culture, economy, and human interaction also serving to shape Muslim views about America and Americans, he said.

Outreach is necessary on both sides because many Muslims around the world foster misconceptions about Americans as well, Jassemm added.

Jassemm said he considers American society quite welcoming to both Muslims, and has found that "the average American citizen is very open-minded and fair and willing to listen and engage in positive dialogue."

U.S. law promotes discussion and can "encourage the citizens to express their views and feelings peacefully and within the law. The U.S. Constitution guarantees this right," Jassemm said. He cited government outreach as a "very critical tool" in helping Muslims "face challenges and secure their future" in America.

For Muslims in America, Jassemm credited the combination of American laws and values as helping to expedite the otherwise "long gradual process" of integration. He describes Muslim integration in American society as "smooth and without any major obstacles."

"American Muslims are among the most educated of American society. They contribute in every element and aspect of American life. No, they are not harassed by the police," he told one of his correspondents during the webchat.

Jassemm attributed Muslims' success in America to the country's foundation on the rule of law and its celebration of the work ethic. "[T]here are no limits on success level. Your nationality and background are irrelevant. Islam strongly emphasizes self-discipline, and America provides endless opportunities."

Interfaith efforts and religious tolerance also play a role facilitating Muslim integration in the United States. "In the U.S., the society view religion and religious people as an asset," he said.

Jassemm used his own experience to illustrate the point: "I feel that I am no different than anyone else. In fact, I feel that I have more at stake in this country, more than most of the other citizens. I have nine children, aged 1 year to 26 years, all of them Americans, and all Muslims, and all part of the fabric of this society. There is no contradiction in being American and Muslim. A good Muslim is a good citizen."

Life for Relief and Development, Jassemm's organization, was founded in 1992 by a group of Iraqi-American professionals and is dedicated to providing health, education, social and economic services to victims of hunger, natural disasters, wars and other catastrophes. To learn more about its mission and humanitarian assistance visit the LIFE Web site.

Source: U.S. Department of State


group of Columbia religious leaders rallied Wednesday to show their support for the Muslim grocer whose home was raided by the FBI earlier this week.

Nearly 100 clergy, peace activists and supporters gathered at a quickly organized news conference Wednesday morning at First Christian Church, 101 N. Tenth St. Speakers described businessman Shakir Abdul-Kaf Hamoodi as an advocate for peace and condemned Monday's raid on his southwest Columbia home.

"I don't know (the FBI's) motives, but they are using fear to intimidate a well-respected member of our community," said the Rev. Larry Brown, chairman of the Columbia-based Interfaith Peace Alliance.

Members of a dozen mid-Missouri religious and peace organizations have drafted a letter to the FBI field office in Jefferson City, demanding an explanation of why Hamoodi's home was searched. Details of the executed search warrant on Hamoodi's home are sealed.

Hamoodi, 54, did not attend Wednesday's news conference but said that his Nifong Boulevard grocery store, World Harvest International and Gourmet Foods, has been flooded in recent days with customers offering their support to Hamoodi, his wife and their five children.

"It's only natural to come to the aid of your friends," Hamoodi said. "They've been showing their support and sympathy."

On Monday, a dozen federal agents searched the home of Hamoodi and his wife, Lamya Mukhlef Najem, 40, removing boxes and computer equipment throughout the day.

Hamoodi said agents asked him questions about his work as a spokesman and fundraiser for a Muslim charity near Detroit, Life for Relief and Development, whose offices were simultaneously searched by the FBI on Monday.

Hamoodi was in Detroit meeting with the charity's CEO, Khalil Jassemm, when he learned about the raid on his home.

The Detroit-area homes of Jassemm and two other charity board members Abdulwahab Asmarai and Mujahid Al-Fayadh were also searched.

Mohammed Alomari, a spokesman for Life for Relief and Development, said the charity is baffled by Monday's raids.

He said agents asked charity workers about the Life for Relief and Development's humanitarian work in Iraq prior to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the country. Alomari said the charity was granted a special license to send aid, including food and medicine, to Iraq via relief channels through Jordan.

"At the time, we were one of a very few American charities to ship humanitarian aid to Iraq," Alomari said. "We'd apply for a license each time we did work there, and they were always granted. We followed whatever legal guidelines were in place to a T."

Molly Millerwise, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Department of Treasury, said such licenses were granted to nonprofit organizations through the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control but declined to comment on whether Life for Relief and Development obtained such a license, saying the federal Trade and Secrets Act barred her from doing so.

Alomari said Hamoodi is one of 25 paid employees of the Michigan charity who works in the United States.

City Muslim leaders said Wednesday that they were discouraged by the timing of Monday's raid. FBI officials from Jefferson City met with Islamic community members at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri a Columbia mosque last week to help improve communication, just weeks before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hamoodi, who said he received a copy of the search warrant executed on his home, said a Jefferson City judge granted the search warrant Sept. 12, just three days before last Friday's bridge-building meeting in Columbia.

Hamoodi denied requests from the Missourian to review a copy of the warrant.


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