Bank closes Arab-American leader’s accounts, won’t say why

The TCF customer thinks it has to do with a federal raid on his home and orders for almost two dozen Midwest activists to testify before a grand jury.

May 11, 2011

Download Story
(photo courtesy of AAAN)
Hatem Abudayyeh heads the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network.

An Arab-American leader whose Chicago home the FBI raided last fall now has a problem with his bank — make that his former bank.

Hatem Abudayyeh, 40, executive director of a city-funded group called the Arab American Action Network, is among almost two dozen Midwest activists who have refused orders since September to testify before a federal grand jury in Chicago.

Abudayyeh’s subpoena came during a raid that month on the Jefferson Park condo he shares with his wife and their 5-year-old daughter. The search warrant named the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular group the U.S. government calls a terrorist organization.

Abudayyeh, a lifelong Chicagoan, got another jolt last Friday. TCF Bank, part of Minnesota-based TCF Financial Corp., had frozen his family’s checking and savings accounts.

TCF spokesman Jason Korstange won’t say why. “There’s privacy issues,” he said Tuesday. “They will be getting their money back, and that’s about all I can tell you.”

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald declined to comment about the accounts. A spokesman of the FBI’s Chicago office said he didn’t know anything about them.

But Abudayyeh attorney Michael Deutsch said the feds must have subpoenaed TCF for records on the accounts. “The bank is probably saying, ‘Oh, God, we don’t want this person as a customer,’ ” Deutsch said.

Officials haven’t charged Abudayyeh or any of the other activists.