The Aref/ Hossain Family Fund is an ad hoc community effort to provide necessary assistance to the families of Yassin Aref, imam of the Masjid as-Salam mosque in Albany, New York, and Mohammed Hossain, one of the mosque’s founders.
Aref and Hossain are presently in jail awaiting appeal of their October 2006 convictions in connection with an FBI sting operation. The operation was intended to target Muslims in the Albany area and lure them into criminal acts on the grounds that they might be “predisposed” to support alleged terrorist activity.
So long as they are in jail, neither is able to work to support their families and neither family has any savings.
The Fund is part of a larger effort to help protect local Muslims against unwarranted invasions of their lives by the government. The ad hoc community group that has come together calls itself the Muslim Defense Committee.
The Oversight Committee is composed of people from the Muslim and the larger community who have come together to create and operate the Family Fund. Currently, it consists of the following:
Shamshad Ahmad, PhD. Professor, SUNY Albany.
May Saffar. Professor, College of Saint Rose & Hudson Valley Comm. College
Kathy Manley, Esq. Attorney.
Steven Downs, Esq. Attorney.
David Vigoda, CFA. Investment adviser.
Janet Murray, Paralegal
The Fund maintains a bank account at Trustco Bank in Albany, New York. By arrangement with the bank, the account does not earn interest, in accordance with Islamic law. Two signatures are required on all checks.
Shamshad and Steve handle day to day expenditures on behalf of the families. Periodically the full committee meets to review expenditures and the operation of the Fund generally.
Expenditures shall be for the maintenance of the two families. According to circumstances, they might be for housing, food, health care, education, and the like. The Fund is not used to cover legal expenses of Aref and Hossain. There may be circumstances, however, where their families need legal assistance, to maintain themselves in the community or earn income.
A receipt is available for all contributions. As an ad hoc community effort, the Family Fund is not a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Records are maintained of all contributions and expenditures and are available for inspection by interested parties.
Information about the Fund appears on the web site of the Muslim Defense Committee: http://nepajac.org/aref&Hossain.htm. Inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org, (518) 453-0890, or by mail to David Vigoda, 21 Aviation Road, Albany, NY 12205.
Contributions of any size are welcome. Make checks payable to “Aref/ Hossain Family Fund” and mail to the Fund c/o Law Office of Steven Downs, 26 Dinmore Road, Selkirk, NY 12158.