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Home arrow Blog arrow April 2008 arrow April 17, 2008

April 17, 2008
WAWA Blog April 17, 2008: I have known and worked with Riad Hamad, founder of the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund for over three years. It was reported to me he committed suicide two days ago. UPDATES: April 24, PM: CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION. April 19: email from FPSN. April 18th 5 PM:Riad's Last Phone Call  April 18th 9:30 AM: Riad was found bound with duct tape on his mouth

BACKGROUND:


On the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008, Riad, an award-winning schoolteacher in Texas and a Lebanese Muslim was in his bathroom getting ready for work when the doorbell rang at his modest apartment in Austin, Texas.

About 18 FBI and IRS agents bearing guns and a search warrant from Judge Robert Pittman, [ well known for his hostility to Palestinians and Arabs and with whom Riad has had previous experience with] searched every nook and cranny of his apartment.

They left with more than forty boxes of papers, files, computers, CDs and an ounce and a half of catnip.


No charges were filed at the time against Riad and he was not arrested, but the investigators claim they had probable cause to investigate wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

PCWF thus joins the Middle East Children's Alliance, Kinder USA and Holy Land Foundation - all dedicated to helping Palestinian children as a major part of their work - as objects of investigations that have damaged the functioning of their mission. NOT one of these these organizations have been found guilty of any wrongdoing.



[UPDATE: April 24, 2008 7:30 PM: FROM
KinderUSA

No one with KinderUSA has ever been pressured to do anything and the organization has never been to court.  In fact, KinderUSA's attorney states the following:

"KINDER-USA is a charity, which raises funds for humanitarian relief. Last year, it received its definitive ruling from the Internal Revenue Service, based on agency review, which includes five years of 990 tax returns.

The only investigatory activity that I am aware of took place nearly four years ago when a US attorney subpoenaed business records of KINDER USA.  The records were provided.  As the grand jury took no action regarding KINDER USA, and as the US Attorney's office in Dallas has not made request for further information, the conclusion reached by me and by my client is that the "investigation," if you could call it that, concluded long ago."

Please feel free to contact KinderUSA directly for any further
clarifications.

KinderUSA

 


It is not a coincidence that Riad and PCWF have been targeted as PCWF has been associated with all these organizations.

The Palestine Children's Welfare Fund is an enterprise that was established by a group of individuals whose goals are to improve the living standards of the children of Palestine in the refugee camps inside Palestine. The group aims to provide the children of the refugee camps with better educational opportunities, health facilities and a bright future without violence, hatred and discrimination. The organization has branches and volunteers in more than ten countries and is not connected with any militant or political association of any kind. PCWF works throughout Europe, Canada and the United States and operates its financial and social work from Palestine to ensure that our work is based in the place where it is needed the most to reach the children of Palestine.

The group works in close coordination with the Union of Health Workers Committees in Gaza, an organization that operates Alawda hospital in Gaza, the largest hospital in Gaza, and several other clinics throughout the occupied territories of Palestine. We also work with various civic and social societies, the Union of Health Workers Committees in Gaza and other Palestinian cities to locate and provide sponsors for needy children in the refugee camps of the West Bank and Gaza. The goal is to provide the children with their basic needs such as food, clothing, educational tools and health care regardless of religious affiliation.

PCWF is a non-political, non-religious enterprise whose aspirations are purely humanitarian and for the purpose of emancipating the children of Palestine and the human rights of the people and children of Palestine.


http://www.pcwf.org/

Riad had been expecting this for 37 years but refused to be intimidated, and insisted upon exercising his full right to defend Palestinian rights - and his own - in America.

Riad lived off his modest schoolteacher salary.

100% of the proceeds from PCWF have benefited thousands of Palestinians with jobs, food, medicine, books, hospital equipment and other humanitarian needs.


On April 6, 2008 he wrote:

Dear friends,

Please DO NOT respond to this email as it is for your information only..besides the government harassment, the hateful environment from some students at school because I am an Arab and a Muslim...and their racist comments, I have been getting phone calls around midnight by some one saying "where is your camel.." and last...a car was  vandalized about two years ago....last night around 1 30 in the morning..someone rang the bell and ran away....and you could hear all the dogs in the neighborhood  barking when the person who rang the bell ran away...A real loving environment towards Arabs and Muslims....and it makes wonder..what have I done wrong?

SHUKRAN for your work and support
Salamat
Riad Hamad


On April 11, 2008 he wrote his final email to me:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2008/04/11/BL2008041102216.html?nav=hcmodule

Riad Elsolh Hamad
http://www.pcwf.org , http://www.marhabafrompalestine.com , Palestine Children's Welfare Fund. 201 W. Stassney # 201, Austin, Texas 78745  Support the children of Palestine by buying Palestinian arts and crafts. Sustain the Palestinian economy and provide jobs for the men, women and farmers in Palestine to live with pride and dignity TILL WE RETURN.

I received an email on April 16 that Riad had committed suicide the day before.


PLEASE DO SOMETHING:

Call or write your Congressional Representatives and tell them to find out why PCWF and other organizations that benefit Palestinian children are being targeted.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety - Benjamin Franklin


From: FPSN
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2008 09:53:57 EDT
Subject: [eFreePalestine] Riad's pink shirt

Riad had a wonderful sense of humor. Let's not forget that. When they found his body, he had on his pink shirt. -G

Fri, 30 Jul 2004 20:23:28 -0700 (PDT)
To Attorney General John Ashcroft
Ref: Harassment of my children, monitoring my friends and family, intrusion on my privacy and civil rights.
 
Mr. Attorney General John Ashcroft,

My neighbor came up to me few weeks ago and informed me that an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation called him again regarding some information about my activities and other personal matters.  Mr. Frank R. specifically told me that the agent inquired about the kind of car that I drive since your agents cannot find any records of car ownership for me in Travis county or the state Texas.  I was surprised to hear that from him since not even my closest friends know that I do not own a car or any property, fixed or mobile in the state of Texas or the United States.  It was my choice at the age of forty to give up all material things and devote my life to something meaningful besides racking up dollars in my bank account.  For your information I do not own a car, a house, a yacht and my bank accounts have less than one hundred dollars in them.  Your agents should know the car that I drive since it has more than 20 bumper stickers in support of the people of Palestine, against the occupation of Palestine, against the war in Iraq and one that states " A village in Texas is missing its idiot," and I think he now lives on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

If you can not identify the car and for your convenience, I have written  " I am an Arab, Ana Arabi" in large characters ( In Arabic and English) on the rear window even a visually impaired person can see, unless they are blind in the mind and the heart like you and the rest of the administration that your represent.  I keep 300 dollars out of my paycheck, fifty percent of the rest goes to my two children for their college education and the other fifty percent goes to families and children that I sponsor in Palestine.  Now, you know that piece. Anything else you want to know. Oh yes, I forgot, my personal attire.

I own five shirts. One light pink shirt that I have had for over three years.  I use both often to show my feminine side because I know how much you and the rest of this administration hate gays. One dark pink shirt that I have had for over three years.  One blue George W. dumb-ass look style shirt with a hole under the armpit.  One puke green shirt ala Tom Ridge's face with a stained collar.  A chicken poop yellow shirt, ala Ashcroft's face to wear to work on sunny days.  Also, I have six pairs of socks, all with holes in them so that would not allow me to take off my shoes at doctor's offices or during romantic encounters.  Imagine. The socks go under two pair of shoes that share much with you in character and substance.  They are both old and worn out and have no soles just like you have no soul.   Five sets of underwear made in China since this administration "outsourced" so many jobs to China because  the schools in the United States graduate now only football players, baseball players, cheerleaders, dancers and cash register operates or McDonalad's and Randall's (A regional grocery store chain in the Southwest). All undergarments have holes in them set to let gas out when I see on television the images of Bush, yourself, Ridge, Rumsfeld or any of the other geniuses that God has blessed this country with to take it down into moral and financial bankruptcy.



Other personal belongings include a large Palestinian flag, a large Iraqi flag, a small Palestinian flag to hang from left side back window of the car that I drive and do not own.  A small Iraqi flag to hang from the right back window of the car that I drive and do not own.  A membership card in the Law Library of the State of Texas.  A membership card in the Public Library in Austin, Texas.  A membership card in the University of Texas System libraries.  Five pieces of paper indicating that I have completed the requirements for seven college degrees.  A piece of paper indicating that I have completed a proficiency test in the Japanese language at a college level.  49,598 deception dollars to distribute to my friends, colleagues, passers by at events against the war in Iraq or in support of the people of Palestine and to expose your lies about who is to blame for the September 11th, 2001 events.




IN MEMORIAN FOR RIAD HAMAD AN ARAB AMERICAN WHO WAS PERSECUTED FOR   ASSISTANCE TO THE CHILDREN OF PALESTINE
 
Kindly forward the communication which is below ,from Japan to the family of Riad Hamad and to the
Palestinian Chidlren's Welfare Fund.
 
 
    I first got in touch with Riad Hamad when I saw the appeal for the Palestinian Children's Welfare Fund hoping to send some relief from India . Thereafter I read the communications on Palestinian handicrafts available where the proceeds would to be earmarked for PCWF  and the need for medicines and diverse items for children in Palestine .
 
        Therafter, when a Japanese hostage was taken by criminal elements in Iraq to defame
the resistance and an appeal was issued from Japan  from people I knew which I circulated ,
 he responded from  far away Am eric a ,as he knew that these were criminal elements desiring to defame the peopleof Iraq and we were touched by his communication .
 
 Till the very end he remained committed to the welfare of the children of Palestine and and against the war in Iraq .
 
 There are not very many people who forced to live across oceans as an immigrant , continue to
work selflessly for those left behind , those suffering , those truamatised  and for this he
was kept under surveillance to silence the suffering voice of Palestine suffering atrocities
just as much as was inflicted by Nazi Germany with weapons supplied by his adopted homeland
the United States of America to Israel , the country of chosen people, all the rest of the world are not
chosen .
 
I did not know there exists a God which selects some and discards others .That permits
whole societies and peoples to be persecuted so that others may steal their land and resources .
That he permits some to live off the back breaking labours of others, while others go from
one conspiracy to another against unsuspecting humanity,that he permits profiteering and monopolies over food , water,fuel and housing .
 
That he permits the innocent like Riad Hamad to be persecuted for helping the weak and helpless.
 
 In my own country there is a doctor , a pediatrician jailed because he was Gandhian and helped the tribal people and the poor.The law enforcement authorities said he was a terrorist a threat to the State,whereas his mother said that from childhood he desired to serve the poor and weak .
So he is in jail.
 
 
Billions are spent on worship all over the world including constructing elaborate places of worship , including by the Pope among others, whereas Christ and other Prophets including Buddha walked
 barefoot on earth and shunned profiteers.
 
 Yet there are people who state that it is God who has given them the right to take away the land
and homes of the people of Palestine and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan among other countries and profit from oil and heroin  even as the people of these countries starve and famine conditions prevail, and bodies killed by death squads are picked up every day.
 
 And Securities become paper, while those who issued it become billionares.
 
  From your e mail I learnt that originally Riad Hamad  was from Beirut .
Heroic Beirut !!!!!
 
Riad Hamad lived as a Gandhian and died a martyr as much as the millions who have been killed
in Palestine ,in Iraq in Lebanon , persecuted by criminal elements within the society he lived and worked in with alliances with the criminal elements of other societies ,which misuse state power
to target honest citizens, to criminilise society in the name of protecting the state.
 
What do we call those who terrorize the innocent ??????
 
It is time we profiled from country to country the individuals targeted and the whole societies targeted for plunder turn by turn .
 
NB


    Subject: Re: A family spokesperson has confirmed Riad Hamad , PCWF, murdered
 
 
 
     Dear Keiko Yasuhara ,
 
     I have just received this communication relating
    to the death of Riad Hamad .
 
        This is sad news. Do you remember when a citizen
    of Japan was held hostage in Iraq , and appeals were issued.
    0ne of the communications I received was from Riad Hamad
    who for several years organized the Palestinian Children's
    Welfare Fund from the United States ,who said he was willing
    to be hostage in place of the Japanese citizen . He was Chairman
    of the Palestinian Childrens' Welfare Fund in the USA .
 
      Later the Japanese citizen was released.
 
 
          It appears that increasingly citizens of the United States
    will not be safe at all and harassed . Therefore there seems to
    be no other option but to cease to communicate with people
    in the United States as for no reason they may be subjected
    to surveillance .
 
     I enclose the following communication received about
    his death . I also appeal for all assistance to the Palestinian Children's
    Fund in particular for the citizens of Gaza .
 
    The situation in Gaza now is similar to Iraq .It is genocide
    comparable to Nazi atrocities in Europe this applies to
    Iraq, Afghanistan , Palestine , Somalia , Congo
    and Haiti .
 
 
                         Niloufer




5 PM UPDATE: Riad's Last Phone Call?

From Paul Larudee
Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:08 pm (PDT)


Riad Hamad, 1952-2008

"Hi, Riad." I knew it was him from the caller ID, even though the phone had never been in his own name.

"Hey, Bolos. How you doin'?" He used the Arabic translation of my name.

"I'm good. How about you?"

"I'm OK." His voice didn't have the usual energy, but perhaps he was in a place where he couldn't speak loudly. "I sent you a couple of email messages."

"Yes, I saw them." The messages were about my role in helping with his charitable work on behalf of Palestinians. There were a few things I didn't understand about the messages, so Riad cleared them up for me. "Now it makes sense," I said.

"OK. Well, that's all I wanted to tell you." Typical Riad. Always in a hurry to get off the phone.

"Wait, I've got some good news!"

"Oh yeah? What is it?" He sounded surprised.

"We're finally getting donations here. A check for a thousand came in today." I had set up a nonprofit account to receive donations for Riad's work.

"Was it from __________?"

"Hang on a second."

"Well, it doesn't matter." Still anxious to get off the phone.

"What do you mean it doesn't matter? I've got the name right here. No, it's from ____________ ."

"That's nice. Well, gotta go."

"OK. Take care of yourself."

"You, too, Boulos."

Those were apparently Riad's last words, spoken from his car near Ladybird Lake in Austin, Texas. At the time I had thought it slightly odd that Riad was repeating what he had already told me by email. I think he just wanted to hear a familiar voice. The police found the phone and car keys on the seat of the unlocked car. Typical Riad. He was thinking of the person who would find the car.

I wish I had told him that the person who sent the check had also written a letter thanking him for the gifts of handmade Palestinian crafts and other items that Riad had sent as a thankyou for a previous donation. He had also included handmade thankyou cards from his two young daughters. The older daughter, age 11 had written, "Live in peace on the world. Everybody should LOVE! I am sad because people should be nice to you, but they are not." The younger, age 8, had written, "I hope you start to live in peace."

I would have read them to him over the phone if he hadn't been so anxious to end the conversation, but I decided to send them for him to read later, and enjoy the children's drawings. The father's letter was longer and more specific in his praise for Riad's tireless efforts on behalf of Palestinians and their rights.

"I have included 2 checks for the needs of Palestinian children. It is my hope that you will use it to create hope for those oppressed. As we both see the dollar's value sink, the value of life especially in the eyes of the Creator never loses value. I extend this help to you and these children as if they were my own. We have the misfortune in living in very dark times, but in that darkness hope, love, and peace shine like the sun. To those that plant hope, they shall harvest peace."

Harvest peace, Riad.

SHUKRAN for your work and support
Salamat

Paul Larudee
Treasurer and Grants Administrator
The Palestine Children's Welfare Fund

Riad's legacy, the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund lives on, providing food, medicine, jobs and education to Palestinians and their children. Tax-exempt donations may be made to:

PCWF
405 Vista Heights Road
El Cerrito, CA 94530




AM UPDATE


Police: Man found in the lake was a teacher
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24188653/

KXAN-TV
updated 10:45 p.m. ET, Thurs., April. 17, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) -- Police on Thursday identified a man who was found bound with duct tape in Lady Bird Lake in East Austin.

Parkgoers discovered the body of Riad Hamad, 55, Wednesday afternoon just east of the Interstate 35 bridge near Festival Beach.

Hamad was a computer teacher at Small Middle School and had been planning a trip to Palestine to teach children there.


Witnesses who found Hamad said the man had duct tape on his face, and his hands were tied.

Police have called the death suspicious. Investigators on Thursday said family and other sources have told them that Hamad was suicidal. Read the news release from APD.

"Right now, the indications are that this was not, there was not foul play involved," said police Sgt. Joseph Chacon. "The bindings, although I can't go into them extensively, I can tell you that it is possible that he could have done this to himself."

Hamad's death was announced to students Thursday. Student Sara Fulton said Hamad was a good teacher and a nice man. She said she was devastated when she found out that he was dead.

"People think that Muslims are like violent, but they're not," Fulton said.

Ana Fulton, the student's mother, used to volunteer at the middle school, where she worked with Hamad. She said he was a peaceful activist and a nice man.

"He stood up for what he believed in," Ana Fulton said. "For him, to have sticker on his car, saying expressing himself about the freedom of Palestine and the peaceful activism he was doing, I admire him for that."

Hamad was reported missing when he did not return home from a trip to the pharmacy Monday, according to a statement by his family.

Family said Hamad had spent 10 years with the Austin Independent School District. He was a University of Texas graduate and had been pursuing a graduate degree. Hamad was also a peace activist.

Hamad is survived by his longtime partner and their two children.

Grief counselors were on standby at the middle school Thursday.


Police investigate suspicious death in East Austin

Police said they are unsure whether a man found in Lady Bird Lake in East Austin Wednesday was murdered.

Police confirmed the body was found in the water between Festival Beach and Martin Park. That area is near the intersections of Comal Street and Nash Hernandez Road.

Parkgoers who saw the body said the death did not look accidental. They said the man's face was wrapped with duct tape, and his arms appeared to be tied in front of his body.

Brittany Mooney noticed the body floating in the lake while walking her dog at Festival Beach about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.

"We just kept walking back and forth, and it started getting closer to the shore, and so we went over there and saw that it was a body," Mooney said. "And he's got tape wrapped around his whole, like duct tape, around his whole face."

Leo Zuniga and Yahaira Copado also saw the body floating just a few minutes after Mooney did.

"We went, and then we were like, 'Is that a body?' and then I saw it, and I was like, 'Oh, man, it is a body!'" Zuniga said. "We could see the back and the hair. His arms kind of folded like this and the tape around his mouth."

Copado called 911 to report the incident.

Parkgoers said the victim appeared to be a white or Hispanic man in his early 50s. They added that he was wearing a pink shirt and black slacks.

The Travis County Medical Examiner's Office will conduct an autopsy.

Police Detective James Mason said whether foul play was involved will be determined when the body is identified.

   
 
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