Khalid (“Ken”) Quran moved to America in 1997, leaving behind a life as a fireman in a town ten miles north of Jerusalem near Ramallah. Ken now lives in Greenville, N.C., with his wife, Dina, and their four kids.
Shortly after moving to this country, Ken purchased a small convenience store in Greenville, located on a dusty patch of land near the airport. Ken worked days and nights for years, often opening and closing the store, in order to build his business. He made a living selling goods at razor-thin margins and hardly ever taking a vacation.
Then, in June 2014, the government seized his entire bank account—more than $150,000. This was money that Ken worked for years to earn, and that he was counting on for his retirement. Ken had no prior warning before the government seized the account. The government told him they were taking the money because he withdrew cash from the bank in amounts under $10,000.
But the truly shocking thing is what happened next. A group of government agents—both from the IRS and local police—came to Ken’s store with an agreement already written up, under which Ken would agree to forever forfeit the money to the federal government. The agents searched his store with dogs, barred the entrance to keep out customers, and then demanded that he sign the paper. Ken initially refused, explaining that he did not read English well and did not want to sign an agreement he could not understand. Then, under compulsion—after one of the local police yelled and demanded that he sign, and after one of the IRS agents made clear that, otherwise, their next stop would be to talk to Ken’s wife to pressure her—Ken agreed to sign.