By Zeyad Maasarani In Focus News Staff Reporter March 2009

LOS ANGELES – Seyed Mousavi, a naturalized American of Iranian origin who has been stripped of citizenship and incarcerated for more than a year on charges his family insists are not true, has been denied basic medical attention for a back condition in addition to other violations of his rights, he alleged in a letter to his family. “He’s suffering,” his 26-year-old daughter, Zeinab, told IFN. “He needs medicine.”

A highly-respected and prominent member of the American Muslim community, Mousavi co-founded the Southern California Islamic Shura Council in 1995 and also administrated the Al-Nabi Mosque in West Covina, in addition to being a successful entrepreneur and passionate philanthropist
On Oct. 14, 2008, a federal court sentenced Mousavi to 33 months in prison for filing false tax returns, omitting group membership on naturalization forms and violating the U.S. economic embargo against Iran, all charges that Mousavi and his lawyers denied and discredited with a myriad of evidence.

Though the government asked for a nine-year sentence, the court was compelled by the evidence in Mousavi’s favor and ultimately sentenced him to less than three years.

Despite the judge’s recommendation to let Mousavi stay in Southern California, he is currently held at the Communications Management Unit in Terry Haute, Indiana, a medium-security prison filled with solely Arabs and Muslims where conditions are allegedly unbearable and communication is limited with the outside world.

CMU prison officials allegedly told Mousavi that there was ‘secret evidence’ of terrorist-related activity to justify his stay at the compound.

“The government charged me for taxes and false information, but the prison authorities tell me they have information that I am a terrorist! If I am a terrorist, why didn’t the government charge me with this in court!?” Mousavi said in the letter.

A formerly-secret facility that was amended in 2006 and discovered by a reporter in 2007, the CMU’s inmates include the “Lackawanna Six” and “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh — a crowd filled with men whose rap sheets hardly resemble Mousavi’s.

The CMU was converted from a former death row and remains rundown and rodent-ridden, Mousavi told his family in the letter.

“For the first time, I feel I am not in my country in the U.S.A. I think I am in a third world country,” Mousavi wrote when he first got transferred in December. The letter did not reach the family until a month later due to the CMU’s stringent policies.

At the CMU, all telephone calls and mail are monitored, the number of phone calls is limited, and visits are restricted to a total of four hours per month, according to special rules enforced by the Justice Department’s U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Calls and emails by IFN to the DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons were not immediately returned.

All inmate conversations must be conducted in English unless otherwise negotiated, much to Zeinab’s dismay because she prefers to converse with her father in Farsi.

“I dread visiting him in the CMU, I have nightmares about it,” Zeinab said, who writes about her father’s situation in articles she publishes on

Zeinab, her three siblings and their mother have not seen Mousavi since December. “I want to kiss his eyes,” Zeinab told IFN. “We all miss him. He was a very important part of our lives. He was everything.”

Zeinab also said the charges against her father are false. “None of them are true, and they knew it. I just don’t know how they can do this to an innocent man,” she said. “Even if the tax fraud is true, usually that involves a deal with the IRS and a fine, no prison time. This just doesn’t make sense.”

Zahra Mirnajafri, who used to attend Al-Nabi mosque and knows the Mousavi family, told IFN the situation has been rough on the community. “He helped so many people,” said Mirnajafri, who attended most of the court hearings and petitioned and sent letters to the judge and government officials. “We need to do everything that we can to help him.”