Feds Raid Two Islamic Charities In Dearborn
The US raided the offices of two suspected terror front groups in Dearborn, Michigan yesterday:
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration took action Tuesday against an Iran-based foundation, including its U.S. branch, for allegedly providing support to the terrorist group Hezbollah.
The Treasury Department’s action covers the Martyrs Foundation and Goodwill Charitable Organization of Dearborn, Mich., which the government identified as a fundraising office for the foundation.
“We will not allow organizations that support terrorism to raise money in the United States,” said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
FBI agents removed boxes from the Goodwill Charitable Organization’s Dearborn office on Tuesday.
Dawn Clenney, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Detroit, said members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force executed a series of search warrants. No arrests were made, she said.
About a mile away, FBI agents were seen inside the office of the al-Mabarrat Charitable Organization, which was not named in Treasury’s order.
“There is no known threat to U.S. homeland security” regarding the searches, Clenney said.
FBI agents seized files, paperwork and financial records from both organizations, said William J. Kowalski, FBI assistant special agent in charge of the Detroit office.
Detroit’s Freep.com reported more on the funds the organizations were able to raise:
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.
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.
Tarek Baydoun was the student government president at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2006.
Interesting… Steve Emerson wrote back in July 2006 at Counterterrorism Blog about the Al-Mabarrat organization and roots to Hezbollah:
Founded in 1991, the Al-Mabarrat Charitable Organization-USA Inc. has changed its name repeatedly over the last fifteen years, discarding the names “Cedar Organization, Inc.”, “Cedar Charitable Organization, Inc.” and “Cedar Social Services of America, Inc.” On its website, http://www.mabarrat.org/, which is no longer active, Al-Mabarrat claimed that its purpose “is to promote the cause of…orphans by providing sponsorship that will go toward schooling, health, and general.” While acknowledging that it proffers that support by working in conjunction with the Al-Mabarrat Association in Lebanon (whose logo it shares), the website conveniently omits the fact that Al-Mabarrat-Lebanon is run by Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.
Fadlallah, labeled Hezbollah’s “chief ‘spiritual leader’” by the Department of Justice, has been designated a Specially Designated Terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department, thus criminalizing financial transactions with him. The U.S. government has further alleged that “Fadlallah issued the fatwa authorizing” the 1983 Hezbollah bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks that killed 241 Americans. Demonstrating its awareness of Al-Mabarrat-Lebanon’s terrorist agenda, the U.S. government banned Lebanese Finance Minister Fuad Siniora (currently the Lebanese Prime Minister) from entering the United States in 2003 because of a donation he had made to the organization in 2000
Despite Al-Mabarrat-USA’s direct link to a Fadlallah-controlled organization, to date, the U.S. branch continues to operate unfettered. In fact, the organization appears to have gained a level of credibility in the U.S. as the Detroit Free Press reported earlier this month that “many Muslims in the region have donated to Al-Mabarrat.”
The most prominent Detroit area Muslim to be publicly linked to Al-Mabarrat is Talil Chahine, the owner of the La Shish restaurant chain, who was indicted in May on federal tax evasion charges for allegedly concealing more than $20 million in restaurant profits and funneling some of those funds to Lebanon. In 2002, Chahine, who federal prosecutors assert has “connections at the highest levels of … Hezbollah,” attended an Al-Mabarrat fundraiser in Lebanon at which he and Fadlallah served as the keynote speakers. (For his part, according to the Detroit Free Press, Chahine admits he attended the al-Mabarrat fundraiser in Lebanon.) At that event, “Chahine was the representative…of a worldwide group of fundraisers,” according to DOJ. DOJ has also noted that agents searching Chahine’s Michigan house discovered a letter thanking Chahine for sponsoring Lebanese orphans, which DOJ stated “is a euphemism used by Hezbollah to refer to the orphans of martyrs.”
Debbie Schlussel has written extensively about the Al Mabarrat Association at Front Page and HERE and HERE.
Al Mabarat includes a photo of Hezbollah Spiritual Leader Fadlallah on its website. (Debbie Schlussel)
Debbie Schlussel has much more on the raids yesterday in Dearborn.
She is the expert.
Here is the contact information for one the charities, via Shia.org:
Goodwill Charitable Organization
P. O. Box 1794
Dearborn, Michigan 48121
Project of Sponsoring Orphans in Lebanon
Project of Supporting Poor Families in Lebanon
Pager: (313) 840-7783
Fax: (313) 581-1355
Toll Free:(800) 734-3151
Contact Person: Ahmad A. Ghosn