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Executive Director of a Columbia-Based Charity Raided by the FBI is an Economist in the Department of Natural Resources

October 15, 2004
By: David Ferrucci and Ben Welsh
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The executive director of an Islamic charity in Columbia that the US Treasury Department said provided funds to Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda is a top economist at the Missouri Natural Resources Department.

The DNR hired Mubarak Hamed in June 2002 -- more than two years after the charity was punished by the US State Department, allegedly for national security reasons.

Spokesperson for the DNR, Connie Patterson, said the department did not learn of Hamed's link to the Islamic American Relief Agency until late Wednesday evening.

"We got a call from a reporter who indicated Hamed was executive director of the group," Patterson said. "We've only heard it from the news media."

Natural Resources Department officials from the director on down to Hamed's direct superior, Mike Wells, were unavailable for comment.

The FBI and the Capitol Police refused comment.

The governor's office, which has direct control over the DNR, had little to say on the issue.

"Gov. Holden has been briefed on the situation," said the governor's chief spokesperson, Mary Still. "Our instructions are to refer all questions to the FBI."

The FBI, however, refused to provide information on Hamed.

In conversations with the FBI Friday morning, Patterson said they indicated investigators were no longer concerned with Hamed.

Patterson said she was unaware of how closely Hamed was screened before his hiring in June 2002.

"I'm trying to find out what exactly the process was, if we did do a background check or not on that individual," Patterson said.

Because Hamed was a volunteer at the charity, Patterson said she was unsure if examining his relationship with the organization was part of the process.

It is only standard procedure when the potential employee is paid by the outside organization, she said.

Several FBI agents visited Hamed at DNR offices on Wednesday afternoon. He was interviewed. but his office was not searched, Patterson said.

"They interviewed him, but they did not detain him or arrest him," she said.

On Thursday, he took leave from his position as an economist in the Department's Geological Survey Division, a position that pays $51,252 a year.

During the past 11 years, Hamed received four advanced degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia, school officials confirmed. He earned MA degrees in economics, agricultural economics and community development as well as a Ph.D. in agricultural economics.

Hamed's home has been searched twice this week by federal investigators. He has not been charged with a crime.

The FBI refused to discuss Hamed or any individual involved in the investigation specifically.

"Federal laws regarding privacy prohibit me for talking anyone who hasn't been charged with a particular crime," said FBI Spokesperson John Lanza.

Patterson said Hamed returns from leave he will face no penalty.

"There will be no change in his duties, no restrictions placed on him in any way," she said.