Patriot Act used against Muslim charity

Attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department may intervene to defend the Patriot Act in a federal case involving an Islamic charity, court documents show.

The charity, Life for Relief and Development, was raided by federal agents in September and sued Comerica Bank last month, saying it violated the its civil rights by planning to close its accounts.

The charity also seeks an injunction to stop Comerica from giving other banks any information it might have about the organization. The charity is challenging the constitutionality of a section of the Patriot Act, which allows financial institutions to share information about suspected money laundering or terrorist activity.

Comerica had told the charity that it planned to terminate the accounts Nov. 15, but it granted an extension.

Justice Department attorneys filed a notice this month saying they may "intervene in this action to defend the constitutionality" of that section of the law, the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said during an appearance in Detroit Tuesday that he couldn’t comment on the investigation.

FBI agents assigned to a terrorism task force searched Life’s offices on Sept. 18, seizing computer servers, donor records and other financial documents. They also searched the homes of the charity’s chief executive, an ex-employee and two board members.

The FBI would not say what agents were looking for, but charity officials have said it might be related to relief work the group did in Iraq.

No charges have been filed.


On the Net:

Life for Relief and Development

Comerica Bank

U.S. Justice Department

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press