The terrorism case that wasn’t: the shuttering of Chicago’s Global Relief Foundation after 9/11

September 9, 2011

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(AP/Carlos Osorio)
In 2003, the family of GRF's co-founder Rabih Haddad appear at immigration offices in Detroit to file paperwork for deportation.

Less than two months after the Twin Towers crumbled, Congress passed the "Patriot Act," granting sweeping powers to law enforcement agencies to do just what President Bush had famously said on the night of 9/11: "hunt down and punish those responsible."

Chicago became one of the first test sites of the new legislation. Two of the country’s largest Muslim charities – the Global Relief Foundation and the Benevolence International Foundation – were headquartered here. Suspecting that funds raised by the charities may have gone to Al Qaeda, the federal government moved swiftly to shut them down.

However, federal prosecutors failed to obtain a single terrorism-related conviction. Two Muslim charities were shuttered and the relationship between Chicago’s Muslim community and law enforcement was compromised.

Roger Simmons, along with local attorney Tom Durkin, represented Global Relief Foundation. Nationally recognized for his work in defamation cases, Roger began working with GRF when Judith Miller, a former journalist for the New York Times, along with other reporters made assertions that GRF was connected to Al Qaeda.