Wednesday, August 29, 2007

U.S. wants Islamic-Iranian charity figure held as flight risk

IHT: EUGENE, Oregon: A missing passport and questions about whether he supports radical Islamic doctrine will keep the co-founder of a defunct Islamic charity in jail at least another two weeks after he voluntarily returned to the U.S. to face tax fraud and conspiracy charges.

Pirouz Sedaghaty, a native of Iran and a U.S. citizen, left the United States in 2003 during an investigation that resulted in a federal grand jury indictment in February 2005, accusing him of helping to smuggle $150,000 out of the country to aid Muslim fighters in Chechnya.

Sedaghaty, 49, returned exactly one week ago, on the same day that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was hearing arguments about warrantless wiretapping of the U.S. chapter of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation that Sedaghaty co-founded in the Southern Oregon town of Ashland in 1997.

Cardani said that raised suspicions about where Sedaghaty had traveled the past four years, noting he had lived in Syria, Iran and the United Arab Emirates at different times.
Cardani said Sedaghaty offered no explanation about how he supported himself, noting he had trouble finding work and apparently had to live on less than $80,000 from the sale of a house in Ashland for more than four years.

But Sedaghaty's lawyer, Larry Matasar, agreed to meet with federal investigators to document his travels pending another hearing in two weeks. He also said they would try to locate the original passport, believed to be with authorities in Dubai.

Matasar also said Sedaghaty has always been a moderate and had steered away from the fundamentalist version of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia.

"He's just the opposite of a danger to the community," Matasar told the judge.
"He has consistently spoken out both publicly and privately for peace and understanding," said Karen Caldwell of the United Methodist Church in Medford, Oregon.

Matasar also called an expert witness, As'ad AbuKhalil, a California State University professor who disputed the government's claim that Sedaghaty supported radical Islamic doctrine.
AbuKhalil said Saudi wealth is used to promote Wahabbism worldwide by funding mosques and charities, and distributing a Saudi version of the Quran called the "nobel Quran" that has a more militant interpretation of its teachings.

Muslims seeking to perform charity work often are forced to accept Saudi money in order to pay for buildings or supplies, and distribute the Saudi version of the Quran because it is typically the only free version available.

"The Saudis have been proven to have misused some of these charities for their own nefarious purposes," AbuKhalil said.

But a witness for the government, author Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a former Al-Haramain worker in Ashland, said the charity promoted radical Islamic doctrine by distributing the "noble Quran" to U.S. prison inmates. He noted that version supports violent jihad, or holy war.

However, Baztab, the state-run news agency of the Islamic Republic, reports the news in their usual twisted way and mistranslates the piece in IHT to portray America as an intolerant nation and against muslims.

The news headline says, "An Iranian is detained for distriubting Koran in the U.S." Then, it charcterizes the alleged tax evader as a "charitable and well-wishing" person.

بازداشت يك ايراني به اتهام پخش قرآن در آمريكا!

روزنامه «هرالد تريبون» گزارش داد: يك ايراني خيرخواه به دليل پخش قرآن در آمريكا زنداني شده است

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that's what they do with every news. twisting every one of them becuase who is going to complain?!