Muslim community leader: 'No rhyme or reason' for raids

December 17, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Abudayyeh says he's not a terrorist and contends the FBI has targeted him merely for having pro-Palestinian views.

The I-Team has been interested in hearing Hatem Abudayyeh's side of things ever since federal agents executed search warrants on his home and residences and the offices of several other people in Chicago and in Minneapolis.

In this Intelligence Report: For the first time we hear from Abudayyeh, executive director of the Arab American Action Network.

"There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason why it's happening," said Abudayyeh. "Nobody seems to know why it's happening."

The "it" refers to FBI raids last September, carried out in Minnesota and Chicago, including an extensive search of Abudayyeh's home on Chicago's Northwest Side, from which the Muslim civil rights leader says FBI agents took away a computer, video tapes and a cell phone.

"They took everything in my home that had the word Palestinian on it," Abudayyeh said.

Abudayyeh has not been charged, nor have any of the 19 people in three states he says have now received federal grand jury subpoenas.

The federal investigation is focused on whether Abudayyeh and the others have funded foreign terrorist organizations.

After ignoring ABC7 requests to be interviewed, Abudayyeh spoke Thursday night to a group of students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He told students that the only thing in common for those targeted by federal authorities is that they are all pro-Palestinian and anti-war.

"This is a massive escalation of the attacks on people that do Palestine support work in this country and anti-war work," said Abudayyeh. "We're not going to stop speaking out against the war. We're not going to stop speaking out against U.S. support of Israel's violations of the Palestinian people."

The search and seizure campaign has resulted in several protests in Chicago and in Minneapolis the past few months.

Even as Abudayyeh is under investigation by a federal grand jury, City of Chicago records obtained by the ABC7 I-Team in October showed that his Arab American Action Network has received thousands of dollars in city grants: As much as $457,000 since 1998.

And the I-Team has reported that White House visitor records show Abudayyeh was an invited guest to an event on April 22 that was described as a "large Arab briefing."

Several of those whose homes were searched were also subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Chicago last October. They defied the orders and didn't show up.

The I-Team has learned that additional federal grand jury subpoenas were delivered to several new names in early December, including a pair of young Chicago women who had visited the West Bank of Israel during the summer.

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