Officials Say Raids Were Fair

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 22, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Officials Say Raids Were Fair


Byline: Vaishali Honawar, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Federal officials yesterday dismissed complaints from regional Muslim groups who accused law enforcement agencies that raided 14 homes and businesses in Northern Virginia of conducting a "witch hunt."

"The search warrants executed [Wednesday] by Operation Green Quest were approved by a federal magistrate who found that there was probable cause to conduct these searches," said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs Service.

Mr. Boyd would not comment on the specific causes. He said they are cited in sealed court documents.

The raids, part of the counterterrorism financial task force's Operation Green Quest, were carried out by about 150 agents from several federal agencies and local police departments, including the Customs Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The warrants were issued against 14 Northern Virginia locations and one site in Georgia. Computers, bank statements and other documents were confiscated from homes and offices during the raids.

The sites raided include the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon and the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences and the Fiqh Council of North America in Leesburg, Va.

Louay Safi, director of research at IIIT, said the agents confined workers to a room without showing them a search warrant and tried to conduct interviews without any attorneys present.

Mr. Safi said his group focuses on research to reform Islamic thought and had nothing to do with terrorists. "We feel that the effort to fight terrorism is headed in the wrong direction. Those attacked are very moderate voices," he said.

Muslim community members packed a conference room in the office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Capitol Hill yesterday to register their protest at what they said was a "McCarthylike witch hunt.

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