JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri government lacked the ability to detect connections between a state employee and a Columbia-based charity that federal investigators allege was financially aiding terrorists, the director of Missouri’s Homeland Security office said Friday.
“We’re not sophisticated enough to make that connection. It’s not easy, and it’s not cheap,” Tim Daniel said. “Trying to get that information is going to be impossible unless you hire a private investigator.”
In June 2002, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Department hired Mubarak Hamed, executive director of the Islamic American Relief Agency, as an economist.
The charity was identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as having financial ties to al-Qaida and was searched by investigators Oct 13. Investigators also searched Hamed’s home twice but have filed no charges.
The charity had a federal grant revoked by the U.S. State Department in 1999 for national security reasons. Corporation records filed with the state list Hamed as an IARA officer as early as 1991.
The FBI told the DNR that Hamed is not a “concern,” DNR spokeswoman Connie Patterson said, adding the agency was unaware of Hamed’s connections to the Islamic charity until after the FBI raid.
Patterson said Hamed returned to work Friday after taking a brief leave the day after the raid.
Daniel said his staff of three is incapable of screening state employees for connections with terrorism.
Rigorous background checks are done only for law-enforcement positions and the state’s highest offices, Daniel said, adding that even in those cases the checks might not detect little more than arrest warrants.
“You’re getting into legal areas here where I do not feel confident to comment,” Daniel said. “Is this group illegal, and is his participation in this group illegal? If the answer is no, are you placing the state in a position where if you do a background check that allows someone to be arbitrary and capricious about not hiring someone?”