The US government on Nov. 12 amended a complaint against Islamic charity the Alavi Foundation to include a request for the seizure of assets, including four mosques, claiming that the organization is actually controlled by the Iranian government. The amended complaint, originally filed in 2008, alleges that Alavi is funneling assets to fund Iran’s nuclear program in violation of US law. The government had already sought to seize Alavi’s 40% interest in a New York office building, but the amended complaint adds properties in Maryland, Texas, California, New York, each of which contains an Islamic center or mosque; 100 acres of land in Virginia; and nine US bank accounts.
Alavi has not released an official statement, but a lawyer for the organization did express disappointment at the developments in an interview with the New York Times Nov. 13.
The attempted seizure of assets from an organization that promotes Persian culture comes at a time of sensitive US-Iranian relations. The same day that the government filed the amended complaint against Alavi, President Barack Obama renewed many long-standing sanctions against Iran. Earlier this week, Iran’s prosecutor general charged three US backpackers with espionage after they illegally entered the country in August. Last week, Obama observed the 30th anniversary of the taking of the US embassy in Tehran by reiterating US respect for Iran and calling for Iran to normalize relations for the benefit of its citizens. (Jurist, Nov. 13)
See our last post on Iran.