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Asylum Denied for Charity Founder

November 23, 2002

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DETROIT (AP) _ A judge denied political asylum Friday to the detained co-founder of an Islamic charity suspected of funneling money to al-Qaida, saying the man is a danger to the United States.

Immigration Judge Robert Newberry said Rabih Haddad, his wife and three of their children had given no evidence they will be persecuted if they leave the country.

Haddad, a 42-year-old Lebanese citizen, has been detained on immigration charges since December.

He helped create Global Relief, which the federal government says has received substantial funding from a suspected financier of al-Qaida’s worldwide efforts. He was arrested on the same day federal agents raided the foundation’s suburban Chicago offices.

Neither Haddad nor Global Relief has been charged with a terrorism-related crime and both have denied any links to terrorism.

Last month, the judge said Haddad was a danger to national security and a flight risk in denying him bond.

``A plethora of public evidence circumstantially links respondent to terrorist elements,″ Newberry said in Friday’s ruling, which also denied Haddad voluntary departure from the United States.

The judge cited Haddad’s ties to the Global Relief Foundation, which was designated a ``terrorist entity″ last month.

Newberry also cited allegations of the charity’s contact with Wadih el Hage, Osama bin Laden’s former personal secretary. El Hage was convicted last year in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies.

A message left with Haddad’s attorney was not returned Friday.

Haddad has testified he feared for his safety if deported to Lebanon, where he says the government is ``very eager to show the U.S. that they are one in the war against terrorism.″

Like Haddad, his wife, Salma al-Rashaid, and three of their four children are accused of overstaying their visas. They have not been detained. Their fourth child was born in the United States.

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