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Prosecutors said they have the authority to seize the properties because Iran’s ownership violates various laws, executive orders and Treasury Department regulations sanctioning Iran because the Islamic republic sponsors terrorism and is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

Authorities also said they can seek the properties because they facilitate money laundering. Prosecutors said rents from the building, which contains law offices and other businesses, are given to the Iranian government.

Attempts to reach Alavi via phone and e-mail last night after business hours were unsuccessful.

A representative of the Iranian government at its U.N. mission in New York did not return an e-mail message seeking comment.

Some conservative groups praised the federal government’s actions, saying Muslim terrorists have been hiding behind religious institutions for too long.

“When it comes to national security just because a place is a mosque or a church or a synagogue, it shouldn’t stop the federal government [from intervening] if it’s tied to terrorism,” said Jordan Sekulow, director of international operations with the American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington public interest law firm founded by evangelical leader Pat Robertson.

“People have to be clear; this isn’t because [of an Alavi Foundation] speaker who the government doesn’t agree with,” Mr. Sekulow added. “This is because you’ve got money laundering … money that’s going to blow up our soldiers” and other terrorist acts.

Mr. Sekulow added he hopes the government’s action Thursday serves as a “wake-up call for average law-abiding Muslim-Americans” to stand up against radicals within their religious community.

“They need to take back their religion,” he said.

Also Thursday, President Obama renewed some long-standing U.S. financial sanctions against Iran, Reuters news agency reported.

Mr. Obama notified Congress that, as expected, he was extending a set of existing U.S. measures against Tehran for another year, saying “our relations with Iran have not yet returned to normal.”

The sanctions renewed Thursday involve certain frozen Iranian assets. Such sanctions have to be extended annually by the president to remain in effect.

Sean Lengell contributed to this report.