Comerica Bank plans to terminate on Wednesday the accounts of a Muslim charity headquartered in Southfield that was raided two months ago by federal agents, according to letters the bank sent charity officials.

The move by the private bank against Life for Relief and Development concerns Arab Americans and Muslims in metro Detroit, who note that the Islamic charity has not been charged with a crime.

A vice president with Comerica Bank, Kathy Pitton, said she would not comment about the charity’s accounts, but added the bank has the right to terminate any bank account with or without cause.

Federal agents raided the Life for Relief office on Sept. 18, along with the homes and offices of some of the charity’s employees, hauling away documents.

The FBI would not say what agents were looking for, but charity officials have said it might be related to relief work the group did in Iraq.

Three days after the raid, Life for Relief officials received a letter from Karen Davis at Comerica Bank, telling them “we are terminating our relationship with you.”

The letter, obtained by the Free Press, was addressed to Life for Relief CEO Khalil Jassemm and stated that he had until Oct. 2 to close seven accounts kept by the charity and Jassemm.

The charity has checking accounts with the bank and uses Comerica services such as online banking. The organization has circulated millions of dollars through Comerica Bank over the past decade, said Life for Relief employee Mohammed Alomari.

Closing the accounts in such a short period would have been difficult, especially since it was during Ramadan, a time when many Muslims give money to charities such as Life for relief, charity officials said.

Charity officials said Comerica agreed to extend the deadline to close their accounts by Wednesday, after groups such as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Council on American-Islamic Relations expressed concerns.


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