When FBI agents raided the Chicago home of Hatem Abudayyeh last Friday, they took his laptop computer and paper records, anything with the word "Palestine" on it, according to the man's attorney.
Federal search warrants indicate that authorities are looking for connections between terrorist organizations in the Middle East and South America and certain anti-war leaders and organizations in the U.S.
As executive director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago, Mr. Abudayyeh is a well-known advocate for immigrant rights. When federal officers raided his North Side home last week, along with residences in Minneapolis, they were looking for funding links between Abudayyeh and the radical Islamic group Hamas that took power in the Gaza Strip three years ago.
Even as Abudayyeh is under investigation by a federal grand jury, city of Chicago records obtained by the ABC7 I-Team show that his Arab American Action Network has received thousands of dollars in city grants: as much as $457,000 since 1998. According to city officials, the money was intended for an after-school program for high-risk students who struggle with English.
Abudayyeh supporters late Monday afternoon protested the raids outside FBI headquarters on the West Side, where federal authorities say only that they have an ongoing investigation of activities "...concerning the material support of terrorism..."
His lawyer did not return calls from the I-Team.
ABC7 also learned Monday that in 2001, Abudayyeh and several others filed a lawsuit against the city, seeking the freedom to wear traditional Arab headwear during Michigan Avenue protests. The case was settled. Terms unknown.
That lawsuit against the city nine years ago was based on the same belief as the protests today: that political activists are selectively and unfairly targeted by the government.