Feds search North Side apartments

Possible connection to vandalism at synagogues, Jewish schools
February 12, 2009 4:24:34 PM PST
Federal agents searched a North Side apartment in connection with vandalism at five synagogues and Jewish schools in the city and suburban Lincolnwood. The apartment is located on the 6000-block of North Artesian Avenue. Carrying out bags of evidence, FBI agents and Chicago police walked in and out of the far North Side apartment building for eight hours.

The FBI executed a search warrant of the top floor apartment in connection with vandalism and threats at five different Jewish institutions.

Mohammad Alkaramla, 24, who lives in the apartment told ABC7 he had absolutely nothing to do with the hate crime. He says he is the victim of discrimination.

"They suspected me because of my name and because of where I come from," said Alkaramla who is Jordanian and Muslim.

Alkaramla says he and his family were woken up by F.B.I. agents knocking and pushing their door open.

"We have nothing to hide. They searched the car and house," said Alkaramla.

Alkaramla stayed in his apartment while agents searched for several hours and hauled away several bags of evidence. The material seized included a laptop and cars .

"They searched all the house, everything. There is no evidence. There is nothing of what they're looking for," said Alkaramla.

The landlord of the building says the family members are good tenants.

"They are very nice people, you know. They have been living here for a while, seven, eight years," said William Kivarkis, landlord.

Last month a synagogue in Lincolnwood and others on the Far North Side were vandalized in the wake of the Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. "Free Palestine" and "Death to Israel" were spray painted on the walls of two of those synagogues.

Alkaramla says he does not have any animosity towards Israel. The 24-year-old says he didn't even know about the vandalism until F.B.I. agents told him about it on Thursday morning.

After Thursday's search, he was not arrested. The 24-year-old says he works for Comcast cable and goes to schoo. He has lived in Chicago for about seven years. Prior to that, he said he was raised in upstate New York.