Homes tied to charity searched, Detroit 

No one arrested in FBI probe into Islamic organizations

The Detroit News 

Federal agents searched the homes of two men connected with an Islamic charity that was raided in Dearborn last month, records filed in federal court in Detroit show.

Donation boxes and money accounted for much of what was seized in the July 24 raids on the Goodwill Charitable Organization and Al-Mabarrat -- two charities with suspected ties to Hezbollah.

Other items seized in the raids include a portrait of the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, taken from the Dearborn Heights home of Mike Safiedine, who is listed on some records as the president of the Goodwill Charitable Organization

Agents shut down the Goodwill Charitable Organization on West Warren Avenue after the U.S. Treasury Department declared the charity a Hezbollah front earlier that day. Treasury has made no such declaration about Al-Mabarrat, and it remains open despite the raid.

Nobody has been arrested or charged in connection with either investigation. While the FBI has said the two raids were not necessarily linked, both Goodwill, which has no connection with Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, and Al-Mabarrat are described as supporting orphans in southern Lebanon.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit said in a recent court filing that supporting orphans is sometimes a euphemism for supporting the families of suicide bombers.

The other home the FBI searched was the Dearborn residence of Ahmad Ali Ghosn, 42. His connection to the Goodwill Charitable Organization was not clear Friday, but FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge William Kowalski said July 24 the warrants executed, other than those on the charities themselves, related to the investigation of Goodwill rather than Al-Mabarrat.

Ghosn did not return a telephone message left at his home.

It's not uncommon for Shia Muslims to have portraits in their homes of religious leaders such as Khomeini or other imams, said Imam Muhammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights.

"There is nothing illegal about having a picture," he said.

In 2003, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services issued a statement through the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan that said a Lebanese-born immigrant who was an ACCESS client with the same name and age as Ghosn was told by the FBI his long-delayed citizenship would be approved if he became an informant, but if he did not, his children would be seized and placed in foster care.

Ghosn did not agree to become an FBI informant, according to the 2003 press statement.

The FBI in Detroit declined to comment on the 2003 statement from ACCESS.

ACCESS spokeswoman Hannan Deep said Friday she did not know if the Ghosn named in the 2003 ACCESS statement is the same Ghosn whose home was recently searched by the FBI.

"We are a human services organization and in the last five years we have helped nearly 300,000 people from health services to food and shelter to employment," Deep said.

"It's hard to comment on an investigation that we are not involved with, but if authorities seek our assistance we will help in any way we can."