Toledo-based KindHearts – a Muslim charity shuttered by the federal government for suspicion of funding terrorism – says the U.S. Treasury Department has denied it access to frozen assets needed to hire lawyers.

Board members say the allegations by Toledo native John Snow’s office that KindHearts gave money to Hamas, a terrorist organization and the recent victors in elections held by the Palestinian Authority, are untrue. The decision to deny them access to assets, they say, also leaves the agency legally defenseless.

“With the stroke of a pen and without any judicial review, they have shut down KindHearts and killed it forever,” said Jihad Smaili, a Cleveland lawyer and board member.

But federal court records indicate the government’s suspicions could be fueled by the intertwined case against three Toledo-area men indicted in February for plotting terrorist acts.

It could hang together or fall apart based on the motivations of the paid confidential informant in the case – a man named Darren L. Griffin, who lived in the LaSalle Apartments downtown. He has owed child support for at least two of the children he has had by three women and declared bankruptcy in Kentucky in 1999 after an injury led to his discharge from the Army there at Fort Campbell.

Mr. Griffin’s financial problems also led to requests seeking reduction in child-support payments, according to Lucas County court records.

Dubbed “the Trainer” in the federal indictment against the three area men, the 40-year-old is the critical link in the federal case, documents show.

He is known as “Bilal” in the Toledo Muslim community. Sources have said he owned a security company here. He worked for KindHearts part-time for $7 an hour and befriended the three suspects in the local Muslim community.

Mr. Griffin’s motivations have become an important issue in at least one defense strategy.

Steve Hartman, the lawyer for Othman El-Hindi, 43, one of the indicted terrorist suspects, said paid informants should be looked at with a jaundiced eye.


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