An FBI anti-terrorist unit yesterday raided the office of an American Muslim relief group that co-sponsored Rep. Jim McDermott's 2002 trip to Iraq - the visit that earned McDermott the moniker Baghdad Jim after the Seattle Democrat called President Bush a liar. The FBI described the raid as a "criminal matter" while the relief agency, Life for Relief & Development , said it was tax related.
Life for Relief teamed up with the Church Council of Greater Seattle to sponsor the Baghdad trip by McDermott and two other anti-war Democrats, then-Rep. David Bonior of Michigan, and Rep. Mike Thompson of California. McDermott, particularly, stirred the anger of war supporters when, during a Sept. 29, 2002 live broadcast from Baghdad on ABC's "This Week," he proclaimed, "The president of the United States will lie to the American people in order to get us into this war." McDermott stood by his statement which, history has since shown, was borne out.
Agents from the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force flooded the suburban Detroit offices of Life on 10 Mile Road in Southfield, Michigan, searching for and copying documents and computer files, the Detroit News reports. The feds also searched two homes owned by Life chief executive officer Khalil Jassemm and the Dearborn office of an anti-Iraq war group, Focus on American & Arab Interests and Relations, led by Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a former employee of Life. Al-Hanooti accompanied McDermott and the congressional delegation to Baghdad in 2002.
Former Seattle journalist and onetime congressional aide Susan Lindauer was quoted by the News as saying she had worked with Al-Hanooti on Muslim causes in Washington, and that he had been meeting with the local FBI task force in Detroit on anti-terrorism issues. (The paper described Lindauer merely as "a Takona [Takoma] Park, Md., woman" and did not mention she was recently released from a federal mental facility as part of what critics say were overblown charges she spied for the Saddam Hussein regime). "I'm amazed, given all the excellent work [Al-Hanooti's] done, that they would come after him," Lindauer said.