Islamic charity files lawsuit to free assets

Friday, December 31, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:48 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Columbia-based Islamic American Relief Agency filed a lawsuit Thursday against the U.S. Justice and Treasury departments. The suit was filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C.

The agency was listed as a specially designated global terrorist group by the Treasury Department on Oct. 13. Its offices, as well as the home of its executive director, Mubarek Hamed, were raided by federal officials the same day. The agency’s assets were frozen, and officials confiscated files, donor lists and other materials.

The lawsuit consists of a complaint against the Justice and Treasury departments and their actions in the search and seizure, as well as a motion asking a judge to release the charity’s assets.

Most personnel in the lawsuit are unnamed, with the exception of Paul Schlup, a special agent with the Treasury Department. According to the charity’s lawyer, Shareef Akeel, Schlup told Hamed the “organization (IARA) was evil” when searching Hamed’s home.

Akeel said other Justice and Treasury personnel ignored charity employees’ requests for attorneys. He also said some federal officials “threatened and intimidated its donors and representatives.”

The charity has filed a request to unfreeze its accounts with the Office of Foreign Asset Control, which is part of the Treasury Department. The organization has not received a response.

The federal departments have 21 days to respond after being served. Akeel is hoping to get a hearing and ask a judge in person to lift the restrictions.

“Time is of the essence,” Akeel said. “The money is just sitting there, and people are waiting for it.”

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