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FBI search mystifies Pa. man

A Pakistani native whose home was searched by the FBI said Wednesday that agents asked him about anthrax and other biological agents and seized his computer, medicines and financial records.

Asif Kazi, 39, who is the Chester city accountant, also said his television screen and furniture were swabbed. He denied any wrongdoing.

"I haven't had a parking ticket in my life. I'm shaking. We watch The X-Files on television, but we never thought it would happen here," said Kazi, who came to the United States from Pakistan in 1999.

His home was raided Tuesday by about 30 armed FBI agents and a hazardous materials team, along with the home of two brothers who are also Pakistani natives and work for the city, which is about 15 miles southwest of Philadelphia.

Kazi said agents told him he had been seen dumping a cloudy liquid on the ground behind his home and handing a silver canister to someone. The liquid, Kazi said, was soapy water from a clogged sink and the canister was a food dish.

Kazi's wife, Palwasha Jalawam, 38, said she was cooking breakfast when armed agents broke down the door and held her at gunpoint. She said agents seized her prescription for Cipro, an antibiotic she takes to treat endometriosis. Cipro also is used for treating anthrax infections.

Authorities wouldn't say why the homes were searched, and federal documents used to obtain search warrants were sealed. FBI spokeswoman Linda Vizi said there were no arrests.

Kazi said he was served with a subpoena to appear today before a grand jury and is uncertain why he is being investigated.

"I'm totally confused, but I'm an American citizen, and I'm ready to cooperate," he said.

The second raided home was owned by Dr. Irshad Shaikh, who has been the city health commissioner since 1994 and teaches part time at Johns Hopkins University. He shares the home with his brother Masood Shaikh, who works in Chester's lead abatement program.

The FBI interviewed both men. The brothers denied any wrongdoing and declined to describe the interviews.

The first floor and basement of the building were leased to AIDS Care Group, a federally funded medical practice that provides low-cost care to people with sexually transmitted diseases.

The group's executive director, Dr. Howell Strauss, said the practice was renovating and planned to open in January. He said FBI agents took examination gloves, face masks and glue.

Vizi said the searches were conducted without incident. Decontamination tents were set up in the area, but Vizi would not say why. She said there was "no public safety issue" and that neighbors were safe.

Agents were seen removing trash bags from both houses, and searched a vehicle behind Kazi's home.

Irshad Shaikh, 39, is a faculty associate at Johns Hopkins' public health school, where he has taught since last year, university spokesman Dennis O'Shea said.

Shaikh, who earned a master's and doctorate in international health at Hopkins, has no access to labs where biological agents were present, university officials said.

In 1999, a grand jury investigated Shaikh following reports that he may have written prescriptions illegally. He was not indicted.

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