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Wife of Muslim Foundation Leader Held

December 19, 2001

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ The wife of a Muslim foundation leader who has been in custody since federal officials raided the group’s offices last week protested his detention Tuesday, saying the organization has no ties to terrorism.

Rabih Haddad, 41, was detained on a visa violation on Friday, the same day agents raided the offices of the Global Relief Foundation. Federal officials said the foundation’s assets were being frozen because it was suspected of funding terrorist activities.

Haddad, a native of Lebanon who has lived in Ann Arbor for about two years, co-founded the foundation and serves on its board.

Speaking to about 40 supporters Tuesday, his wife, Salma al-Rushaid, denied the foundation has terrorist links. ``I don’t know why the media’s saying that,″ she said.

She said Immigration and Naturalization Service officers never explained why they were taking her husband or where but told her she couldn’t visit or call him. She said it frightened their four young children.

``They should have told us why they took him,″ she said.

FBI spokeswoman Dawn Clenney said the INS detained Haddad on ``an immigration matter.″

Greg Palmore, a spokesman for the INS in Detroit, said he couldn’t comment. ``I guess everything will come out in due time,″ he said.

Haddad’s attorney, Ashraf Nubani, acknowledged that Haddad’s 1998 tourist visa had expired, but he said Haddad should be protected from prosecution because he has applied for permanent residency. Haddad has been in the United States on and off for 14 years, first arriving on a student visa and studying at the University of Nebraska, he said.

A bond hearing was scheduled for Haddad before an immigration judge on Wednesday, the Detroit Free Press reported.

No arrests were made when the Global Relief Foundation offices in Illinois were raided. Two of the foundation’s offices in Yugoslavia also were searched Friday by NATO-led peacekeepers and U.N. police. A NATO spokesman said three people were detained there.

Friends said Haddad has been outspoken in trying to collect donations for Afghan refugees. Kenan Basha of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Michigan said Haddad often speaks at interfaith events there.

Despite the detention, al-Rashaid said her family will try to remain in the country. One of the couple’s children is a U.S. citizen, she said.

``I know this country is a wonderful country, and this was not the way,″ she said. ``These three gentlemen of the INS, they do not represent the land.″


Global Relief Foundation, http://www.grf.org

Department of Justice: http://www.usdoj.gov/immigrationinfo.htm

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