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State Government Cannot Detect Employee Connections To Terror, Homeland Security Director Says

October 22, 2004
By: Ben Welsh
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri government did not have the ability to detect connections between a state employee and a charity federal investigators allege was financially aiding terrorists, the director of Missouri's Homeland Security office said Friday.

"We're not sophisticated enough to make that connection. It's not easy and it's not cheap," said Director Tim Daniel. "Trying to get that information is going to be impossible unless you hire a private investigator."

In June of 2002 the Natural Resources Department hired Mubarak Hamed, the executive director of the Islamic American Relief Association, as an economist.

The Columbia-based charity was identifed by the US Treasury Department as having financial ties to Al-Qaeda and searched by investigators Oct 13. Investigators also searched Hamed's home twice but have not filed any charges.

The charity had a federal grant revoked by the US State Department in 1999 for what the government cited as reasons of national security.

State incorporation records list Hamed as an officer of IARA as early as 1991.

The FBI told the Natural Resources Department that Hamed was not considered a "concern," Connie Patterson, a department spokeswoman said last week. She said the department was unaware of Hamed's connections to the Islamic charity until after the FBI raid. Patterson said Hamed returned to work on Oct. 22 after taking a leave the day after the raid.

Daniel said his office, which is only staffed by three people, is incapable of taking on the task of screening state employees for connections with terrorism.

Rigorous background checks are only done for law enforcement positions and the state's highest offices, Daniels said, adding that even in those cases the checks may not detect much more than an arrest warrent.

"You're getting into legal areas here where I do not feel confidant to comment," Daniel said. "Is this group illegal and is his participation in this group illegal? If the answer is no are you placing the state in a position where if you do a background check that allows someone to be arbitrary and capricious about not hiring someone?"