Skip to comments.Federal agents raid local Islamic relief group
Posted on 10/14/2004 6:03:13 AM PDT by Augie
Federal agents seized cars, scores of boxes and more than a dozen computers in what appeared to be a well-planned raid on the Islamic American Relief Agency near Providence and Broadway that began Wednesday afternoon and ended roughly six hours later.
No arrests were made.
FBI Special Agent Jeff Lanza said the raid was part of a long-running, ongoing investigation of the Islamic American Relief Agency. The U.S. Department of Treasury said in a release Wednesday that the name Islamic American Relief Agency is one of the names used by some of the 40 organizations worldwide with links to the Islamic African Relief Agency, which is alleged to have links to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaida and the Taliban. The Treasury Department blocked all accounts, funds and assets of the Islamic African Relief Agency and its affiliates in the United States on Wednesday.
The Treasury Department alleged that the overseas branches of the Islamic African Relief Agency provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bin Laden in 1999. Treasury also believes that as early as 2003, the group was responsible for moving money to the Palestinian territories to support terrorist activities and served as a conduit to Hamas in one Western European country.
FBI, IRS criminal investigative division and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents along with state and local police and highway patrol surrounded the organizations office in a small, nondescript brick building at 201 E. Cherry about 2:30 p.m. At least two vans were searched and towed from the scene while the nearly 30 agents worked inside the building, removing filing cabinets, binders, PCs, a fax machine and sealed paper bags and boxes. One box was marked posters of Iraq in black marker.
The documents were seized under a warrant obtained by the FBI and other federal, state, and local agencies under the authority of the Office of Foreign Asset Control.
The warrant is being executed pursuant to an ongoing federal investigation, Lanza said. Its a federal criminal investigation and the affidavit in support of the warrant is sealed. Lanza would not say what agents were seeking but would only emphasize the warrant authorized a search, not arrests.
FBI agents were also searching a Columbia home, Lanza said. He wouldnt elaborate.
Attempts to reach any of the individuals listed as directors on the agencys 2002 tax form were unsuccessful.
Lorenzo Vidino of the Washington, D.C.-based The Investigative Project, a counter-terrorism research agency, said the Islamic American Relief Agency has been used by the Sudanese government to spread radical Islam, and still is. The agency also has provided employment and financial support to Somali fundamentalists, he said.
Vidino said members of the agencys board are involved with other charities whose assets have been frozen, and some are under investigation themselves.
Weve been watching this charity for a long time, but we never had a smoking gun, said Vidino. I suppose [the government] did.
Agents moved in and out of the building while police officers from various local, state, and inter-state agencies provided security around the scene Wednesday.
Jeff Westbrook, of the Columbia Police Department, said he arrived at the scene around 2 p.m.
Were basically providing security, he said. I dont know whats going on inside.
Officers with the Federal Air Marshals, the U.S. Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Postal Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were also involved. The Mobile Response Unit of the Columbia Police Department and one other large police vehicle were used as temporary operation bases while police cars closed off all entrances, including shutting off access to the Walgreens drive -through pharmacy window.
Lanza would not comment on whether the search was connected to the January request by the Senate Finance Committee to turn over IRS files on the Islamic American Relief Agency.
Ninth District Rep. Kenny Hulshof, who had asked the FBI to divulge any information it had about terrorism cells in Columbia before Sept. 11, 2001, said he was not given advance notice of Wednesdays raid.
"There hasn't been any information exchanged between then and today and that's what's troubling--this was out of the blue," Hulshof said.
Hulshof said he would contact FBI officials today to find out what motivated them to act Wednesday.
Bernell Dorrough, Kate Moser, Jennifer Oladipo, Mike Burden, Robbie Ketcham, Heather Olson, Nadia Afifi and the Associated Press contributed to this report
That was the first article that I've posted. Please be gentle...
Glad to see the HLSD is at work.
I'm no expert. Indeed, I post articles willy-nilly.
"That was the first article that I've posted."
Looks fine to me. Also, it's of interest since I'm down the road in St. Louis and we have a pretty good FReeper contingent there.
With this band of handsome ruffians about, the terrorists probably weren't safe in those parts anyway.
The Columbia ACLU office will file a complaint by noon today...
It was posted on the state board last night. This should get interesting.
Bet on it.
Yeah, they've grown a bit since that picture was taken.
Now they've got guns, cars, girlfriends and hickeys. LOL!
They still like the old tractors though.
"The Columbia ACLU office will file a complaint by noon today..."
I'm surprised to hear it will take that long.
Awwww, heck! Now who's gonna pay for Achmed's bomb-belt???
Why should Kenny Hulshof want to know or be given this information?
I live in Columbia and the place raided is about a block from my husband's office. Hulshof is particularly interested in what the authorities may know because, following 9/11, Columbia, MO was named as one of 5 or 6 places in the US where a cell had been known to be connected to OBL. We are a University town with a very large muslim population and a very active mosque. A student at one of the local colleges had purchased the cell phone that was used to authorize the Kenya embassy bombing. This town is very much aware of the possibility of terrorist support and Husholf is our congressman.
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