U.S. moves to seize California mosque with possible Iran link

The Sacramento BeeNovember 13, 2009 

The federal government has moved to seize a Carmichael mosque and seven other properties from Texas to New York owned by a nonprofit Muslim organization that federal prosecutors allege is a front for the Iranian government.

Deputy U.S. marshals posted forfeiture notices Thursday at the Qoba Foundation, an Islamic center on Marconi Avenue that, according to its Web site, offers an array of services to local Muslims.

The forfeiture action marks the latest step in a long-standing investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan into the New York-based Alavi Foundation, which owns all the properties targeted in Thursday's complaint.

Federal prosecutors allege that the Alavi Foundation for years has illegally funneled money to Iran from its financial holdings in the United States.

The government seeks in the latest complaint to seize more than $500 million in Alavi Foundation assets – including bank accounts, Islamic centers in four states that house schools and mosques, and a Fifth Avenue skyscraper that provides the organization with millions each year in rental income.

Attorneys for the Alavi Foundation vowed to fight the seizure effort in court.

"As today's complaint alleges in great detail, the Alavi Foundation has effectively been a front for the government of Iran," Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. "For two decades, the Alavi Foundation's affairs have been directed by various Iranian officials, including Iranian ambassadors to the United Nations, in violation of a series of American laws."

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