Dearborn’s Arab American and American Muslim communities were shocked by the serious allegations made by federal authorities this week against two Dearborn-based charities. The FBI raided the offices of Al-Mabbarat Charitable Organization, U.S.A and Goodwill Charitable Organization. The U.S. Treasury Department also froze the assets and banned transactions with the Martyrs Foundation, Al-Qard al-Hassan and two officials from Hizbullah.
The Goodwill Charitable Organization was charged with ties to a terrorist organization, with the Treasury Department saying it was an arm of the Iranian Martyrs Foundation.
Al-Mabarrat was not charged with anything. However, the raids were conducted simultaneously and the media coverage afforded the raids made it look like Al-Mubarrat was also accused.
The deliberate ambiguity of law enforcement and refusal to provide even basic information to media left more people in the Metro Detroit area suspicious of their Muslim neighbors’ activities and motives.
Everyone must understand the need for law enforcement to take measures to ensure the safety of us all. When American Muslims and their organizations are not linked to any extremist, unlawful groups, that too would be beneficial information for all Americans.
Through good-faith cooperation with law enforcement, many Arab American and American Muslim leaders and organizations have worked hard to establish a relationship with the federal government so that undue suspicion and even stigmatization of the communities don’t occur.
Unfortunately, the terrible media spectacle of raiding the offices of AMCO this week dealt a blow to that relationship. The charity remains open and operational and authorities have not charged it with anything.
In fact, AMCO is an American non-profit organization lawfully recognized to conduct operations under section 501 c3 of the federal tax code. AMCO has no political or religious affiliations with any organization inside or outside of the U.S. and has been operating transparently since 2000. AMCO’s sole objective is to raise funds for the most helpless in society, the orphans. Because of its clear mission and trustworthiness, AMCO is the most popular charity in the Dearborn community and enjoys widespread support, attracting nearly 3,000 community members and dignitaries to its annual fundraiser. Its donation boxes are in virtually every business and thousands of homes in Dearborn.
But with the raid and seizure of equipment, the organization has been dealt a horrific — and unfair — blow. AMCO was unjustly and incorrectly associated with another charity that was raided that day and the entire Arab American Arab and American Muslim community faces a new round of unjust speculation and stigmatization, as again one of its dearest charities is subjected to unjust scrutiny, shortly before Ramadan, the season of giving.
The incompetence and recklessness of the federal authorities in this case are stunning. Isn’t there a better and more effective way to go about this? All Americans deserve a better approach to law enforcement.