Federal government wins right to seize Houston's Islamic Education Center

HOUSTON – Houston's Islamic Education Center may soon need a new home, because the federal government has won the right to seize the building.

After nearly two decades and close to 2,000 filings, a jury in federal District Court in New York decided Thursday the government could legally seize an estimated $1 billion in property from the Alavi Foundation.

The Alavi Foundation owns dozens of properties across the U.S., including a 36-story office building in Manhattan and a 100,000-square-foot building at 2313 S. Voss Road, near Westheimer Road.

The building's tenants are collectively known as the Islamic Education Center, and include a school and mosque.

"We're not very clear how it impacts our activities or our use of the building," Faheem Kazimi, chairman of IEC Houston, said by phone.

The Alavi Foundation is a nonprofit foundation billed as a group that helps all community members, regardless of race or religion, providing social services, scholarships and medical treatment.

Federal prosecutors, however, have painted the Alavi Foundation as an illegal funding machine for Iran, siphoning money from the U.S., sometimes to fund terrorist attacks.

The Alavi Foundation has the right to appeal the jury's decision.

The Islamic Education Center had pre-existing plans to expand into a second location in 2018, a source with the organization said.

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