Five years ago, President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a sweeping crackdown on what the Justice Department and FBI called a “shadowy network of foreign nationals” operating within the mosque, one of the nation’s oldest religious institutions.
In the years since, there have been several instances in which federal prosecutors have opened investigations into the mosque’s financial dealings.
A year ago, an FBI agent testified that he had been told that a “foreign terrorist organization” had a $1.5 million investment in the mosque.
Then in February, the Justice Departments inspector general announced a probe into whether the mosque had improperly funneled money to Iran, even though the mosque denied any wrongdoing.
Trump’s decision to close down the mosque in mid-May triggered a nationwide uproar and a flurry of media coverage, as well as allegations of corruption, mismanagement and intimidation.
The mosque has denied the accusations.
But as the administration’s crackdown on the mosque has intensified, the government has launched a wide-ranging investigation of the mosque and its trustees, including its leaders, to see whether there is any evidence of wrongdoing.
The grand mosque has not been implicated in any terrorism investigation, according to the FBI.
But the investigation is broad, including looking into whether its trustees or the mosque itself were in on a scheme to defraud the federal government of more than $1 billion.
In a letter sent to the grand mufti on Monday, the FBI’s New York office wrote that it has asked the mosque to provide “all relevant information” about its finances.
“This includes, but is not limited to, any documents or records in its possession that may assist in establishing whether any of the trustees of the Grand Mosque of Minneapolis violated federal law, including Section 1027(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” the letter said.
“The Grand Mosque’s Board of Trustees and the mosque have cooperated fully with our investigation,” it continued.
“The FBI has repeatedly requested documents related to any financial transactions that may have occurred between the mosque Board and its trustee.”
The FBI did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
As the grand Mufti wrote to Congress, “There are multiple witnesses who have testified that the Grand Muftis Trustees did not participate in the transaction or in the transactions themselves, but only in allowing the purchase of certain property, including certain buildings and buildings that were not owned by the mosque.”
Trump also sent the Grand Muslim a letter on March 12, 2017, asking for $100 million to cover a mosque construction loan, and asking for the grand mosques trust to pay off a $500,000 debt to the Treasury Department.
The grand muafas trust, in turn, sent the president a letter the following day, saying it would be reimbursed.
But that letter was not written by the Grand Imam.
The White House declined to say whether the grand Imam did anything wrong in responding to the president.
In February, when the grand Muslim was in Saudi Arabia, Trump held a phone call with the Saudi Crown Prince.
The Saudi government has denied any knowledge of any dealings with Iran.
A few days later, the president met with King Salman in Riyadh.
On March 26, the Grand Prophet was arrested on charges of spying for the United States, money laundering and violating the U.S. embargo on Saudi Arabia.
He was released on bail and is awaiting extradition.
While Trump has been dogged by allegations of collusion with Iran and its Islamic proxies, the grand Mosque is the only one of several large mosques in the United Kingdom, which has long had ties to Saudi Arabia and is also home to a small number of mosques affiliated with the Brotherhood.
Since Trump’s inauguration, the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for multiple bombings and shootings at mosques, including one near Birmingham, Ala., that killed six people.
The Grand Mosque has been the target of other attacks, including a truck bombing in August that killed two people, including an imam.
Last week, the group also claimed responsibility in an online statement for the bombing of a mosque in northern Pakistan that killed four people, killing three more worshippers.
But in an interview with The Associated Press last week, Grand Mufli Sheikh Ahmed bin Abdallah Al-Hassan Al-Joulani said he was not aware of any ties between the Grand mosque and Iran.
Al-Akhbari, the imam, said he had no direct knowledge of the attack.
Asked about the claims, the mosque issued a statement saying, “We are confident that our mosque is a place of refuge for the Muslim community.
We have never received any money from any entity, including the United Nations, and we are in constant contact with the governments of the countries of which we are members, and the governments are working to restore their relationship.”
The Grand Mufts’ letter also mentioned a “fundraiser” planned for Friday, but did not mention whether