Bridgeview man sues to get off terrorist list
SUN-TIMES MEDIA September 6, 2012 6:48PM
Muhammad Salah is shown in this July 2007 file photo.
Updated: October 9, 2012 2:50PM
A Bridgeview man, on a federal terrorist list for the past 17 years, filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the designation, which he claims blocks his assets and prevents him from buying necessities.
Muhammad A. Salah claims the Treasury Department has imposed an “unprecedented ‘embargo’ ” on him since declaring him a “specially designated terrorist” in August 1995, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. It says the restrictions were imposed without a trial or administrative hearing.
Salah, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was imprisoned in Israel for 41/2 years after police searched his East Jerusalem hotel room and found $95,000 in cash they said was to bankroll terrorism. In 2004, Salah and two others were charged with an extensive racketeering scheme to fund Hamas.
A jury in a high-profile 2007 trial acquitted Salah of providing financial, logistical and other support for Hamas in its long-standing conflict with Israel.
But the jury convicted him of obstruction for lying under oath on a questionnaire in a lawsuit over the fatal Hamas shooting of American teenager David Boim in Israel in 1996. Salah was sentenced in July 2007 to 21 months in federal prison and fined $25,000.
Salah claims in his lawsuit that he’s the only person in the United States with such a terrorist designation, which blocks all his assets and prevents him from obtaining food, clothing and lodging. He also says the designation makes it illegal for U.S. citizens or entities to do business with him, including offering medical services.
But a Treasury official said the Office of Foreign Assets Control has so designated a number of people in the country for providing support or acting on behalf of terrorist organizations.
Salah at various times has been granted licenses authorizing him to get a job, open bank accounts and pay for essential goods and services, but the limitations have made finding a bank and a job nearly impossible, according to the lawsuit.
The treasury official said he could not comment on the specifics of the suit, but the designation prohibits most transactions. However, the Office of Foreign Assets Control can issue licenses for salary payments and basic expenses upon request, and the licenses also authorize banks to open and maintain accounts for those purposes, the official said.