Friday, November 13, 2009

Move to seize alavi foundation assets in amrika

What many do not realize is that reza pahlavi and shahbanou farah are
involved in the transactions of the alavi foundation, that the alavi
foundation is essentially the world's largest slush fund, and that
profits from this slush funds not only go to hezbollah and hamas but to
pay the difference for Iranians who recieve welfare and other social
assistance benefits in america. Notice the timing of this as america is
considering military action in and around Iran, when more of the
american backed suskimargi from the green movement are acting out again,
and when congress is considering how to fund health care and other
Peter II, Khan-e-Mazendaran
Related To Story

AP Photo
The Islamic Education Center in Potomac, Md. on Nov. 12, 2009. The
center rents this building from the Alavi Foundation, which owns the
building but does not run the center.

US Seeks To Seize 4 Mosques, Tower Linked To Iran
Prosecutors Seek Forfeiture Of More Than $500M In Assets
ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press Writer

POSTED: 3:59 pm CST November 12, 2009
UPDATED: 7:26 am CST November 13, 2009

NEW YORK -- In what could be one of the biggest counterterrorism
seizures in U.S. history, federal prosecutors sought to take over four
U.S. mosques and a New York City skyscraper owned by a Muslim
organization suspected of being controlled by the Iranian government.

Prosecutors on Thursday filed a civil complaint in federal court against
the Alavi Foundation, seeking the forfeiture of more than $500 million
in assets.

The assets include bank accounts; Islamic centers consisting of schools
and mosques in New York, Maryland, California and Houston; more than 100
acres in Virginia; and a 36-story Manhattan office tower. Confiscating
the properties would be a sharp blow against Iran, which the U.S.
government has accused of bankrolling terrorism and trying to build a
nuclear bomb.

A telephone call and e-mail to Iran's U.N. Mission seeking comment were
not immediately answered.

John D. Winter, the Alavi Foundation's lawyer, said it intends to
litigate the case and prevail. He said the foundation has been
cooperating with the government's investigation for the better part of a

"Obviously the foundation is disappointed that the government has
decided to bring this action," Winter told The Associated Press.

It is extremely rare for U.S. law enforcement authorities to seize a
house of worship, a step fraught with questions about the First
Amendment right to freedom of religion.

The action against the Shiite Muslim mosques is sure to inflame
relations between the U.S. government and American Muslims, many of whom
fear a backlash after last week's Fort Hood shooting rampage, blamed on
a Muslim American major.

"Whatever the details of the government's case against the owners of the
mosques, as a civil rights organization we are concerned that the
seizure of American houses of worship could have a chilling effect on
the religious freedom of citizens of all faiths and may send a negative
message to Muslims worldwide," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the
Council on American-Islamic Relations.

It is unclear what will happen to the properties if the government
ultimately prevails. But the government typically sells properties it
seizes through forfeiture and sometimes distributes the money to crime

U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman Yusill Scribner said there are no
allegations of any wrongdoing on the part of the tenants or occupants of
the properties, which will remain open.

Prosecutors said the Alavi Foundation managed the office tower on behalf
of the Iranian government and, working with a front company known as
Assa Corp., illegally funneled millions in rental income to Iran's
state-owned Bank Melli. A U.S. Treasury official has accused Bank Melli
of providing support for Iran's nuclear program, and it is illegal in
the United States to do business with the bank.

U.S. officials have long suspected the foundation was an arm of the
Iranian government. A 97-page complaint details involvement in
foundation business by several top Iranian officials, including the
deputy prime minister and ambassadors to the United Nations.

"For two decades, the Alavi Foundation's affairs have been directed by
various Iranian officials, including Iranian ambassadors to the United
Nations, in violation of a series of American laws," U.S. Attorney Preet
Bharara said in a statement.

There were no raids as part of the forfeiture action Thursday. The
government is simply required to post notices of the civil complaint on
the properties.

As prosecutors outlined their allegations against Alavi, the Islamic
centers and the schools they run carried on with normal activity. The
mosques' leaders had no immediate comment.

Parents lined up in their cars to pick up their children at the schools
within the Islamic Education Center of Greater Houston and the Islamic
Education Center in Rockville, Md. No notices of the forfeiture action
were posted at either place as of late Thursday.

At the Islamic Institute of New York, a mosque and school in Queens, two
U.S. marshals rang a doorbell repeatedly, taped a forfeiture notice to
the window and left a large document on the ground. A group of men came
out and took the document after the marshals left.

The fourth Islamic center marked for seizure is in Carmichael, Calif.

The skyscraper, known as the Piaget building, was erected in the 1970s
under the shah of Iran, who was overthrown in 1979. Tenants include law
and investment firms and other businesses.

The building, last valued in 2007 at $570 million to $650 million, has
been an important source of income for the foundation over the past 36
years. Tax records show the foundation earned $4.5 million from rents in
2007. That money helps fund the centers and other ventures, such as
sending educational literature to imprisoned Muslims in the U.S. The
foundation also has invested in dozens of mosques around the country and
supported Iranian academics at prominent universities.

If prosecutors seize the skyscraper, the foundation would have almost no
way to continue supporting the Islamic centers, which house schools and
mosques. That could leave a major void in Shiite communities, and hard
feelings toward the FBI, which played a big role in the investigation.

The forfeiture action comes at a tense moment in U.S.-Iranian relations,
with the two sides at odds over Iran's nuclear program and its arrest of
three American hikers.

But Michael Rubin, an expert on Iran at the American Enterprise
Institute, said the timing was probably coincidental and not an effort
to influence Iran on those issues.

"Suspicion about the Alavi Foundation transcends three administrations,"
Rubin said. "It's taken ages dealing with the nuts and bolts of the
investigation. It's not the type of investigation which is part of any
larger strategy."

Legal scholars said they know of only a few previous cases in which law
enforcement authorities have seized a house of worship. Marc Stern, a
religious-liberty expert with the American Jewish Congress, called such
cases extremely rare.

The Alavi Foundation is the successor organization to the Pahlavi
Foundation, a nonprofit group the shah used to advance Iran's charitable
interests in America. But authorities said its agenda changed after the
fall of the shah.

In 2007, the United States accused Bank Melli of providing services to
Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and put the bank on its
list of companies whose assets must be frozen. Washington has imposed
sanctions against various other Iranian businesses.


Associated Press writers Samantha Gross in New York City, Juan A. Lozano
in Houston, investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York City
and AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin in Maryland contributed to this

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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