FBI and Homeland Security agents raided the Northern Virginia office of a Saudi-based charity that has been under scrutiny for possible terrorist ties and detained one of its employees on immigration charges, officials said yesterday.
The Muslim World League office in Falls Church had also been searched in 2002 in a dramatic series of raids of Muslim organizations in Northern Virginia. The charity has not been charged.
Abdullah Alnoshan, 44, a Saudi citizen who worked at the charity, was arrested at 6 a.m. Friday at his house in Alexandria, according to officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Agents working through a joint terrorism task force searched his home and then his office at 360 S. Washington St. in Falls Church, officials said. They removed computers, photographs and immigration documents, said Allan Doody, special agent in charge of the ICE office.
Alnoshan was charged with immigration fraud. According to an affidavit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Alnoshan had been sponsored by the Muslim World League for a work visa to do public relations and religious work. Instead, he served as director of the charity, the document said.
Also charged in the case was Khalid Fadlalla, a Sudanese citizen who works at the Muslim World League office in New York. Fadlalla, who also was arrested Friday, had signed the forms petitioning for a work visa for his Saudi colleague, according to court documents and officials.
Ashraf Nubani, an attorney involved in the case, said Alnoshan plans to plead not guilty.
In recent years, U.S. officials have filed immigration charges against hundreds of people whose names have emerged in the course of terrorism investigations.
U.S. agencies have been investigating the Muslim World League for years because of suspicions that it knowingly or unknowingly provided funds to Osama bin Laden. A senior Treasury Department official, Stuart Levey, told a Senate hearing on terror financing this month that the Muslim World League and a few other Saudi charities "continue to cause us concern."
The Muslim World League has strongly denied providing any support to terrorism.
Staff writer Jerry Markon contributed to this report.