New York, Nov.13 (ANI): Federal investigators on Thursday moved to seize four mosques in the US and a skyscraper in Manhattan over their alleged financial aid to Iran, a step likely to worsen relations between Washington and Tehran.
Prosecutors in Manhattan filed a civil complaint in the federal court seeking the forfeiture of more than 500 million dollars in assets of the Alavi Foundation, which describes itself as a charitable foundation, and a company, Assa.
The mosques are in New York City, Maryland, California and Texas.
Prosecutors claim that the foundation and the company have been engaged in money laundering, with the cash sent back to Tehran.
The move could be designed to punish the Tehran government at time when its relations with the US are already strained over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme, reports The Guardian.
The Obama administration risks incurring the wrath of American Muslims if the mosques, all Shia, are seized.The takeover of mosques would also raise constitutional questions around the right of freedom to religion.
The move comes at a sensitive time, with a debate under way in the US over the loyalty of American Muslims after the shooting at Fort Hood last week.
In the past, the US has targeted other Iranian companies and US and European companies that do business with them and frozen their assets
The mosques and the skyscraper, however, will remain open while the case is heard. (ANI)