Man Found Dead in Lake Claimed FBI Tracked Him
Newsroom
4/17/2008

The man found floating in Lady Bird Lake Wednesday afternoon claimed on a videotape that he was being targeted by federal agents because he ran the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund out of south Austin.

"All of our work is very transparent. We don't work with any militant group or violent group, or anybody with a militant affiliation," said Riad Hamad, in a 2003 interview with freespeech TV.

In the 19-minute interview, found online, Hamad says several shipments of used books and clothing had been returned to his home address and on at least one occasion, a neighbor who signed for a package was questioned by a federal agent.

"We were hacked really bad," Hamad said. "We called the FBI and they said this is cost of business and would not do anything to help. There were like three different people who gave information about me that I only know."

In the video, Hamad says he held several degrees, including Bachelor's and Master's, from the University of Texas and was in the process of completing another.

"I don't have an affiliation," he says on the video. "I've been here since 1970. I was never involved in any militant or group that would hurt anybody... something violent."

Austin Police Thursday afternoon preliminarily ruled his death a suicide. Hamad's body was found floating in Lady Bird Lake and had been bound with duct tape. Police say the binding was in a manner which he could have done it to himself.

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