OBAMA’SÂ OCTOBER SUNRISE SURPRISE – PART ONE
(PART TWO EXPECTED ON THURSDAY, OCT. 23)
by TomÂ Mannis
October 17, 2008
EXCLUSIVEÂ thanks to Gramfan
PART ONE – Background of the 2008 Sunrise Equities Scandal
Lets spread the wealth around: CHANGE you can believe in!
CHICAGO – Barack Obama has strong tiesÂ to a Chicago investment company that ripped off investors for a total of approximately $80 million. Sunrise Equities shut down in August when its CEO,Â SalmanÂ Ibrahim, and other top officers vanished. The money seems to have gone with them. Now, the Illinois Secretary of State and the FBI are investigating the scandal.
About 150 investors, mostly Muslim,Â learned in August that they had lost all of their savings to the Sunrise Equities fraud. Sunrise Equities, a shariah-compliant investment firm, targeted investors who were mostly Pakistani Muslim immigrants. Many the victims took out home-equity loans to make ends meet.
The Muslim Media Network (MMN)Â reported this on Sept. 11:Â
“According to latest reports coming from Chicago the management of Sunrise Equities and the affiliated Sunrise Constructions have disappeared after closing their offices. Sunrise CEOÂ SalmanÂ Ibrahim, Vice PresidentÂ AmjedMahmood, and Vice President (Community Relations) Mohammad AkbarÂ ZahidÂ are untraceable.”
As financial scandals go,Â this one pales next to the implosions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. However, to the hundreds of investors in Chicago who have been ruined by Sunrise Equities, the Fannie-Freddie mess might as well be in another galaxy.Â SalmanÂ Ibrahim and Sunrise Equities have ruined people here just as profoundly as any bank closing in the country has hurt others.Â SalmanÂ Ibrahim gained the trust of investors with the help of religious Muslim leaders, who approved of and even recommended investing with Sunrise Equities because it followed shariah rules, or Islamic law.
The Illinois Secretary of State and the FBIÂ are investigating the scandal. Will Homeland Security be investigating this? After all, Ibrahim is a foreign national. Furthermore, he is rumored by many along the “Devon Corridor” of West Ridge to be a Taliban sympathizer.
The tragedy of Sunrise Equities has ripplesÂ throughout Chicago:Â A March 10, 2006 press releaseÂ from Sunrise Equities bragged about a transaction in the nearby Uptown neighborhood:
“Sunrise Equities is pleased to announce the purchase of 4 parcels near the corner of Leland and Marine Drive. A yet unnamed project is under development and will be the largest project under the Sun Rise umbrella. The mixed use development plan will call for up to 150 condos andÂ townhomesÂ as well as community retail.”
More press releases are availableÂ on the Sunrise Equities web site, which also listsÂ major projects in which they were involved.
The Chicago TribuneÂ reported on September 24, 2008:
The Shariah Board of America’s approval of investing in Sunrise Equities led dozens of other Chicago-area Muslimsâ€”mostly Indians and some Pakistanisâ€”to invest and lose hundreds of thousands of dollars with the company, which says it developedÂ multiunitÂ residential buildings in Chicago, the investors said.
Investors said they don’t know if the company suffered losses because of the declining real estate market or for other reasons.Â SalmanÂ Azam, an attorney hired by several investors, said Sunrise’s Chief Executive OfficerÂ SalmanÂ Ibrahim has not been seen since August. Sunrise’s offices off Devon Avenue are closed. At his home, mail spills out of his mailbox.
Neither Ibrahim nor his attorneys could be reached for comment Monday and Tuesday. Another principal in Sunrise,AmjedÂ Mahmood, declined to comment, saying he had been a vice president in the company and the “corporation had gone down.” He said he lost $500,000 and was now driving a taxi.
For years, Ibrahim and his associatesÂ have been heavily involved in Democrat Party political affairs. IbrahimÂ donated to Barack ObamaÂ and toÂ JoeÂ Biden, Local Democrats, such as 49thÂ Ward Alderman Joe Moore and 50thÂ Ward Alderman Bernie Stone, benefited as well.
There are questions, then,Â that must be asked. Where did the missing $80 million go? Did any of that money go to terrorist entities? Inasmuch as Ibrahim is suspected by some in his now-former neighborhood to be sympathetic to radical Islamic groups, the authorities must be wondering where the money went. Was it transferred to accounts overseas? Will Ibrahim,Â MahmoodÂ andÂ ZahidÂ keep the money for personal benefit? Was any of it transferred to enemies of the United States, such asÂ al–Qaeda?
According the most recent US TreasuryÂ Terrorist Assets ReportÂ (TAR),Â more than $20.7 million was blocked in 2007 that might otherwise have gone to international terrorist organizations and individuals. That’s a big increase from the $16.4 million block in 2006. Al-Qaeda’sÂ share in 2007 is estimated to have been more than $11.3 million, which is 46 percent more than in 2006.
The amount of blocked fundsÂ pertaining to international terrorist organizations and individuals, totaled over $20.7 million in 2007, compared to $16.4 million in 2006. Of that, over $11.3 million constituted assets ofÂ al–Qaeda, an increase of almost 46 percent over the level blocked as of the end of 2006. The Bench is not saying that Sunrise Equities officers were terrorists or gave money to terrorists. That is an unknown, but that is the point. As noted, people much close to Ibrahim allege that his sympathies lie with the Taliban. The Taliban, as we all know, sympathizes withÂ al–Qaeda.
The US Government needs to quicklyÂ and thoroughly investigate the Sunrise Equities scandal, with involves around $80 million. That’s almost four times as much as was blocked by the US Treasury in all of 2007.
Barack Obama has long had strong tiesÂ to Muslims and to Pakistanis. He also has long and strong ties to Sunrise Equities andÂ SalmanÂ Ibrahim.
Obama wanted a satellite fundraising officeÂ in the “Devon Corridor,” the largely Indian-Pakistani section of Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood on the north side.Â SalmanÂ Ibrahim was happy to help. Free office space was given to Obama’s campaign within Sunrise’s general offices at 6355 N.Â Claremont. Obama has long wooed Muslim voters, and did not have a physical presence in this part of Chicago, so the Sunrise location made logistical sense for Obama. It also made sense for Ibrahim and Sunrise as an effort to curry favor with rising star Barack Obama.
In 2004, Sunrise Investments gave Barack Obama free office spaceÂ during his run for US Senate. The Bench has photographs of the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Clearly seen in the photos is Barack Obama andÂ SalmanÂ Ibrahim.
We’re not finished yet.Â Part Two of this story will examineÂ Obama’sÂ connections toÂ SalmanÂ Ibrahim and Sunrise Equities. Due to time constraints, The Bench will not detail hereÂ Obama’sÂ mysterious three weeks in Pakistan or his numerous Muslim associations. These are points that have been well covered already by a myriad of blogs and publications. Rather, The Bench hopes that the information presented here will alert others with more time and resources to the Sunrise Equities story and the Obama Connection. Perhaps they can pick up the ball and run with it.
NEXT: Part Two -Â Obama’sÂ Connections toÂ SalmanÂ Ibrahim and Sunrise Equities (PART TWO EXPECTED ON THURSDAY, OCT. 23)