Skip to comments.MA: FBI probes man on ties to Islamic charity
Posted on 01/04/2005 7:26:53 PM PST by NormsRevenge
BOSTON (AP) - Prosecutors have asked a judge to halt citizenship proceedings for a businessman who headed an Islamic charity so the FBI can continue investigating whether he lied about his ties to organizations that include one linked to Osama bin Laden.
U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan asked to postpone Emadeddin Z. Muntasser's naturalization hearing scheduled for Thursday. The judge did not immediately rule on the request and gave Muntasser until Wednesday to respond.
Muntasser, whose citizenship application has been in the pipeline more than two years, is "the subject of a pending federal criminal investigation regarding statements he made to the FBI," according to court documents.
Muntasser, 40, is a Libyan national who owns the Logan Furniture chain and was a founding president of the Boston-based charity Care International.
The organization, which is not affiliated with the global relief organization CARE International, says in its promotional materials that it was formed to help war orphans, widows and refugees in Muslim nations.
But it has been scrutinized because of links to groups that support terrorism.
Muntasser did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday. His attorney, Jeremiah Friedman, also did not return calls.
Spokeswomen for the FBI and Sullivan both declined to comment.
In June, Muntasser sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, claiming his citizenship application had been needlessly delayed.
In response, prosecutors filed documents revealing that Muntasser was the subject of an FBI investigation into statements he made during a 2003 interview with federal agents. The documents indicated that Muntasser's involvement with Care and the Boston branch of a group founded by bin Ladin had attracted attention from the FBI.
When Muntasser applied for permanent U.S. residency in 1992, he listed among the organizations he had been involved with "Alkifah Refugee Center, Boston Chapter."
Known by various spellings, the al-Khifa Refugee Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., was a recruitment office for Mektab al Khidmat, or MAK, which bin Laden co-founded in the 1980s to recruit mujahideen to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, according to an independent commission that investigated the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The U.S. government has called MAK the "precursor organization to al-Qaida." Some people involved in the first World Trade Center bombing were connected to the Brooklyn center. President Bush designated MAK/al-Khifa a global terrorist organization soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Care International was incorporated in 1993 with Muntasser as president. It used the same address as al-Khifa's Boston chapter and in its literature praised mujahideen activities around the world, including in Bosnia, Chechnya, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Care has never had its assets frozen or been named by the government as a terrorist organization, but has had transactions with organizations that have. Muntasser's official relationship with Care ended in 1996, and it was unclear whether he continued to be involved with the organization.
In August, U.S. Attorney Sullivan asked the court to hand the case over to the Department of Homeland Security, "which is best suited to investigate Muntasser's eligibility for naturalization."
In a blistering response, Muntasser's attorney decried the "needless delay and endless investigations" surrounding his client's citizenship application. He dismissed the government's claims as "wild speculation."
"Muntasser has not been charged with any crime, let alone convicted," Friedman wrote.
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