The Day FBI Raided My House

The Day FBI Raided My House

The Day FBI Raided My House 150 150 ComfortAid International
Tuesday, November 19 2013 begins benign enough; we wake up for salaat, Mahaa
Zainab and her mother return to slumber and I proceed with pushups and other
exercises, run-up to a six – seven mile run later on, after giving breakfast and
dropping Zainab to school. It is 7AM and I have just completed my pushups so my
heart is already pumping somewhat when simultaneous loud banging at the front
door, the back glass door and side windows rattle me. Tasneem screams there are
men with guns outside and not to open the door; my heart goes on overdrive.
I run to peer through the front door keyhole; there are about seven men
with signs of FBI, DEA and others on black t-shirts standing outside, two of
them have their guns draws. Mamma-mia! Now, I have been in pretty dicey
situations before, what with my travels for CAI taking me to far-flung and
dubious countries globally. But this situation involves my family, involves my
daughter Maaha Zainab, so I am plenty rattled. My heartbeat goes haywire, I
feel my heart is at all places in my body, not unlike a person possessed by the
shaitani of Kilwa, kicking and jerking around, completely out of
control. I fling open the door.
Rough hands pull me out. Is there anybody else inside? Someone
shouts at me. Dazed, I do not answer, gawk at three men, two with their guns
drawn enter the house. Tasneem has already joined me by the entrance and we
scream at Zainab to come. She does, annoyed at her best-time-to-nap
interrupted, drunk with sleep. Tasneem yells at her to go back and wear her hejaab.
I engulf Zainab into an embrace once she returns to the door, hejaab intact. I
see men after men, in thick black boots enter and invade my home, where nobody,
without exception, is allowed to enter wearing outside footwear, especially the
place where I recite salaat; this invasion is pretty painful; a colonoscopy is readily
preferable.
After the initial scare, things calm down. The invading guys are firm
but polite and courteous; I am assured I am not under arrest. They have a
warrant to search my house and seize all documents, computers and cellphones.
Why? It is alleged that I have been concealing money from the US government. Okay.
Then why is the DEA and other agencies that go after the real bad people here, why
with guns drawn? I tell the lead IRS agent I was expecting them, but not this
way, with guns draws and an invasion of my house. He looks at me, puzzled. Expecting
us, why?
Well, with the amount of aid money CAI moves to countries like
Afghanistan, the US government would be curious what is going on (although CAI
annual tax returns do detail these activities). But I was expecting more
courteous method of investigation; an inquiry letter, a visit request to IRS
offices perhaps. The agent nods and smiles, assures me these kinds of raids is
procedure they follow. How would they know we are not armed, destroying proof
or prepping evidence if not a sudden raid? I guess not all of us are Ahlebeyti
Muslims…?
Thus ensues about two hours of searching and questions. The house is thoroughly
searched, paperwork, passports and electronic devices seized. Maaha Zainab is
allowed breakfast, keeping the agents on their toes (especially women agents),
busy with rapid questions about the FBI. For Zainab, this is far from scary,
why, an adventure really. She is obsessed with being an FBI agent in the future
and spends a good deal of her allowable TV watching time looking at detective
shows that solve crimes. When I caution her FBI has to use some pretty mean
methods to solve crimes, sometimes at the expense of innocent victims, she
remains unconvinced. Lets see if the end of this saga results in changing her
mind.
True, our lives are greatly shaken up by this invasion and I remain
cautious on many fronts. I am absolutely convinced there will be nothing the
authorities will find unlawful or incrimination, insha’Allah. CAI or I have
broken no laws; in fact I have gone an extra mile, every time, to ensure all
transactions are transparent and accountable. Since I do what I do for the
pleasure of Allah in serving His downtrodden humanity, I rely on Him to see us
through this period of uncertainty; the verdict, however, should be total
vindication of all allegations. Insha’Allah.
The home of Hasnain Yusufali, my nephew, dedicated Secretary and Treasurer
for CAI is similarly invaded; documents and electronics seized.
I broadcast this so that you, our donors and well-wishers are well
informed about what happened. CAI and personal bank accounts are not seized;
travel and CAI activities are not restricted or affected. Our mission continues
insha’Allah.  
I must add that both the IRS and FBI (DEA’s role was irrelevant) were
very polite and courteous immediately after the initial few minutes their
operations commenced. Maaha Zainab’s I-Pad and cellphone are not seized, my
passports and ID are returned the very same day and the rest of our electronic
devices are returned in good order within a week of seizure.
There is a profound question by one FBI agent late on the day of the
raid, when a team of five agents arrives home to return my passports and ask
more questions. The Agent, a young man, asks me if I will notify the FBI if I
knew of another 9-11 in the making, since they are all about preventing a
repeat of that tragic, fateful day. I am flabbergasted at the question, a bit
angry even. But then I realize where he is coming from, so my reply is
appropriate.

First and foremost, I am a man who tries hard to follow the commands of
my religion: to protect a life in danger, any life. Period. Two, I am a US citizen,
duty bound to the constitution and laws of this country. Three, I live here,
earn my living here, my family lives here, my daughter grows up, goes to school
here. Surely, the question is redundant? 

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