Islamic Community Reacts to Indictments

9 years 11 months 2 weeks ago March 07, 2007 Mar 7, 2007 Wednesday, March 07 2007 Wednesday, March 07, 2007 9:14:14 PM CST in News
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On Wednesday, Prosecutors said the five men transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to Jordan, and then finally on to Iraq.

Nothing in the indictment says how the money was spent, but authorities said their actions were still against the law.

"By circumventing the legitimate use of a tax-exempt organization, IARA used monies thought to be donated for humanitarian relief for illegal activities," FBI agent Monte Strait said.

Two of the five men indicted belonged to the Islamic center in Columbia.

Dr. Ahmed Habib, chairman of the board of trustees of the Islamic Center, said the two men were respected in the Islamic community.

He said after waiting for a result since 2004, they are glad the case is finally getting closer to a resolution.

Habib said the Islamic community is used to being under a close eye long before 2004.

"Muslims all around have been on the focus since 9-11, but our community has been very good and really accepting of and we have been very open with the law enforcement over the years, especially with in the last year and we've invited them several times to the Islamic center and have had an ongoing dialogue with them and we feel very confident that justice will prevail," Habib said.

Habib said after the 2004 raid, the center changed its policies about donations.

The Islamic center now checks charities to make sure they're legal before any money is donated.

A timeline of the IARA investigation:

In October of 2004 federal agents raided the Columbia headquarters of the Islamic American Relief Agency, and seized it's assets. In December of that year IARA filed suit against the federal government to have its assets unfrozen. A few months later in February of 2005 the government released a report charging the charity organization with giving money to the children of "martyrs." Then just a few days later a federal judge ruled the organization had links to terrorist groups. More than a year later IARA challenged the terrorist affiliation a second time.

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