Thursday, November 12, 2009

Alavi Foundation Assets Seized: Iranian Mosques Schools Seized

Federal prosecutors filed a civil "complaint" leading to the seizure of four Iranian mosques in the U.S., as well as a Fifth Avenue skyscraper, known as the Piaget Building.

The Piaget Building is managed by the Alavi Foundation and owned by the Iranian government as well as filing an amended complaint "seeking the Foundation's "majority stake" in the building located in Midtown at  650 Park Avene, New York, New York.

[Alavi] working with a front company known as Assa Corp., illegally funneled millions in rental income to Iran's state-owned Bank Melli. Bank Melli has been accused by a U.S. Treasury official of providing support for Iran's nuclear program, and it is illegal in the United States to do business with the bank
Bank Melli Iran is reported to have $48 billion in Shariah-compliant assets, with Iran holding more Islamic assets than all other countries. Iranian banks account for 6 of the top 10 Islamice Institutions worldwide.
In their amended complaint, U.S. prosecutors alleged Alavi has been providing numerous services to Iran's government, including managing the building, running a charitable organization for the Iranian government and transferring funds from the building's management company to Bank Melli.
While all of the properties under forfeiture may remain open as proceedings go forward, and no Iranian spokesman or mosque leader would speak of the action, neither would they open their doors:
At the Islamic Institute of New York, a mosque and school in Queens, two U.S. marshals came to the door and rang the bell repeatedly. The marshals taped a forfeiture notice to the window and left a large document sitting on the ground. After they left a group of men came out of the building and took the document.
Mosques are located in Queens, NY, and schools in Huston and Rockville, Maryland and an Islamic center in Carmichael, California. In Virginia, a 100-acre property.

This minute on FOX, Alavi is denying any part of their operation is owned by the Iranian government. While one earlier report said no action was taken today at the properties, FOX News' Eric Shawn just reported that boxes were removed from the Piaget Building today.

Assets are believed to total more than $500 million, with mosques, schools and Islamic centers in Maryland, California, Houston and New York, including a 36-story office building in New York, and more than 100 acres in Virginia.

The receipts from the Piaget Building funds mosques, Islamic Centers and schools.
Confiscating the properties would be a sharp blow against Iran, which has been accused by the U.S. government of bankrolling terrorism and trying to build a nuclear bomb.
The sleek, modern building, last valued at $570 million to $650 million in 2007, has served as an important source of income for the foundation over the past 36 years. The most recent tax records show the foundation earned $4.5 million from rents in 2007.

Rents collected from the building help fund the centers and other ventures, such as sending educational literature to imprisoned Muslims in the U.S. The foundation has also invested in dozens of mosques around the country and supported Iranian academics at prominent universities.
If federal prosecutors seize the skyscraper, the Alavi 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.
It's about time radical Islam has a problem with the FBI. The article says Alavi Foundation has been suspected of terrorist ties for THREE DECADES. This is not good news for the three young Americans held hostage in Iran for crossing the border from Iraq. Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were charged this week with espionage and will be tried in Iran. We'll see if the Iranian mosques and schools become bargaining chips for the release of Shourd, Bauer and Fattal.

©2007-2012copyrightMaggie M. Thornton