22 January 2004
U.S., Saudi Arabia Freeze Assets of Saudi Charity Branch Offices
Seek UN action on Al-Haramain in Pakistan, Tanzania, Kenya, Indonesia
The United States and Saudi Arabia have acted jointly to block the assets of four overseas branches of a Saudi charity accused of diverting charitable funds to terrorist activities, including those sponsored by the al-Qaida network, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has announced.
In a January 22 news release, Treasury said that the U.S. and Saudi governments would also ask the United Nations to freeze the assets of the Al-Haramain charity's branch offices in Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania and Pakistan.
"By working together to take action today and calling on the United Nations to do the same, our two countries send a clear message: Those who hide intentions of terror behind a veil of benevolence and charity will not escape justice from the international community," U.S. Treasury John Snow told reporters.
The designations are a "visible result" of much hard work and cooperation by Saudi and U.S. officials, said Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign policy advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who joined Snow and other U.S. officials in announcing the joint action.
"They are the result of the close cooperation that exists between our two countries," Al-Jubeir said.
The Saudi government in 2003 ordered Al-Haramain to close all of its overseas branches. Although Al-Haramain said it had closed its branches in Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania and Pakistan, continued monitoring by the United States and Saudi Arabia indicates that the branches or officials connected to those offices either continued to operate "or have other plans to avoid these measures," Treasury said.
The joint action builds on earlier U.S.-Saudi moves to prevent Al-Haramain branches from using charitable donations to fund terrorist activities, Treasury said. The two countries in March 2002 jointly blocked the funds of the charity's branches in Somalia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. When it became apparent that Al-Haramain was continuing to operate under a new name in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the United States and Saudi Arabia joined in asking the United Nations to add the new name, "Vazir," to its list of terrorist-supporting organizations.
With the addition of the four Al-Haramain branches, 350 individuals and entities are now on the U.S. list of people and groups suspected of financing terrorism. At least $139 million in assets belonging to suspected terrorist financiers has been blocked worldwide, the Treasury Department said.
Following is the text of the Treasury news release:
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Office of Public Affairs
January 22, 2004
Treasury Announces Joint Action with Saudi Arabia Against Four Branches of Al-Haramain in the Fight Against Terrorist Financing
Once again, the United States and Saudi Arabian governments are joining together to ask the United Nations' 1267 Sanctions Committee to add four branches of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation to its consolidated list of terrorists tied to al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden and the Taliban. Today's designation of the Al-Haramain branches in Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Pakistan under Executive Order 13224 is the latest in a series of public joint actions with our ally in the war on terrorist financing. These branches have provided financial, material and logistical support to the al-Qaida network and other terrorist organizations.
"The United States and Saudi Arabia share a deep commitment to fighting the spread of terrorism in all its forms. The branches of al Haramain that we have singled out today not only assist in the pursuit of death and destruction; they deceive countless people around the world who believe that they have helped spread good will and good works. By working together to take action today and calling on the United Nations to do the same, our two countries send a clear message: those who hide intensions of terror behind a veil of benevolence and charity will not escape justice from the international community," said Secretary John W. Snow.
The Saudi government in 2003 ordered Al-Haramain to close all of its overseas branches. Al-Haramain stated it closed branches in Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Pakistan, but continued monitoring by the United States and Saudi Arabia indicates that these offices and or former officials associated with these branches are either continuing to operate or have other plans to avoid these measures. The actions by the Bosnia-Herzegovina branch, designated in March 2002, to reconstitute itself and continue operations under the name "Vazir" is one example. Similarly, the Indonesian branch of Al-Haramain has attempted to operate under an aka ["also known as," or alias].
The four branches being designated today are only the most recent of Al-Haramain's overseas branches to be investigated, and the U.S. remains committed to ensuring that the branches of this charity can not be used to support terrorism. The Saudi Arabian government has informed the host countries that these entities are not Saudi entities and should be treated appropriately under local law. Designation at the UN triggers international obligations on all member countries, requiring them to take steps to ensure that these offices cannot continue to use their remaining infrastructure or finances to fund or otherwise support terrorism. It is also a critical action to publicly identify these supporters of terrorism, providing warning to other entities that they are prohibited from doing business with them.
The Treasury Department is committed to stopping terrorism by taking action against those who fund it. With this designation, 350 individuals and entities will have been designated under President Bush's Executive Order aimed at freezing the assets of terrorists and their supporters -- Executive Order 13224. At least $139 million in assets has been kept out of the control of terrorists as a result of efforts by the United States and its allies.
Blocking actions are critical to combating the financing of terrorism. When an action is put into place, any assets that exist in the formal financial system at the time are frozen. Blocking actions serve additional functions as well, e.g., they act as a deterrence for non-designated parties who might otherwise be willing to finance terrorist activity; expose terrorist financing "money trails" that may generate leads to previously unknown terrorist cells and financiers; disrupt terrorist financing networks by encouraging designated terrorist supporters to disassociate themselves from terrorist activity and renounce their affiliation with terrorist groups; terminate terrorist cash flows by shutting down the pipelines used to move terrorist-related assets; force terrorist to use alternative, more costly, and higher-risk means of financing their activities; and engender international cooperation and compliance with obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions. The United States works to preserve the sanctity of charitable giving and the value of humanitarian aid provided by charities of all faiths. In this context, we are working to identify those charities that are abusing the trust of their donors. In addition to today's designation's over 10 charities have been designated by the United States because of their support to terrorism, including:
-- The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (based in U.S.) (December 2001)
-- Two Al-Haramain Branches (Bosnia-Herzegovina/Somalia) (March 2002)
-- Global Relief Foundation (U.S.) (October 2002)
-- Benevolence International Foundation (U.S.) (January 2003)
-- Al Aqsa Foundation (Germany/Europe) (May 2003)
-- Commite de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (France) (August 2003)
-- Association de Secours Palestinien (Switzerland) August 2003)
-- Interpal (United Kingdom) (August 2003)
-- Palestinien Association in Austria (Austria) (August 2003)
-- Sanibil Association for Relief and Development (Lebanon)
-- Al Akhtar Trust (Pakistan) (October 2003) (Al Akhtar was assuming a role that had been held by the Al Rasheed Trust, another Pakistan-based charity that was designated as part of the annex to E.O. 13224). Like the United States, the Saudis have been victims of al-Qaida. They are an important partner in the war on terrorist financing, and have taken important and welcome steps to fight terrorist financing.
-- The Saudis worked with the United States to establish a U.S.-Saudi task force in Riyadh focused on combating terrorist financing and establishing initiatives to better regulate charities.
-- On March 11, 2002, the United States and Saudi Arabia enacted the first joint designation by blocking the funds of the Somalia and Bosnia-Herzegovina branches of Al-Haramain because these branches were diverting charitable funds to terrorism. When it became apparent that Al-Haramain was continuing to operate under a new name in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the United States and Saudi Arabia joined in asking the UN to add the a/k/a, "Vazir," to the consolidated list.
-- In August of 2002, Saudi Arabia joined the U.S. in the designation of Wa'el Julaidan, a key terrorist financier who had known associations with Usama bin Laden and headed several non-governmental organizations that provided financial and logistical support to al-Qaida.
-- Saudi Arabia also supported the addition of the Jeddah-based terrorist financier, Yasin Al-Qadi, to the UN's consolidated list in October 2001.
Basis for Designation
Information in the possession of the U.S. government indicates these offices have provided financial, material and logistical support to Usama bin Laden's (UBL's) al-Qaida network and other terrorist organizations. These branches are subject to designation under Executive Order 13224 pursuant to paragraphs (d)(i) and (d)(ii) based on a determination that they assist in, sponsor or provide financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, or are otherwise associated with, persons listed as subject to E.O. 13224. Because this support is being provided to Usama bin Laden, al-Qaida, and/or the Taliban, these branches also meet the standard to be included on the United Nations' 1267 Sanctions Committee's consolidated list. In addition to requiring UN Member States to freeze assets without delay, inclusion on this list triggers obligations to implement other sanctions, such as a travel ban and arms embargo.
AL-HARAMAIN FOUNDATION [AHF] (INDONESIA)
--In 2002, money purportedly donated by AHF for humanitarian purposes to non-profit organizations in Indonesia was possibly diverted for weapons procurement, with the full knowledge of AHF in Indonesia.
-- Using a variety of means, AHF has provided financial support to al-Qaida operatives in Indonesia and to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). According to a senior al-Qaida official apprehended in Southeast Asia, Omar al-Faruq, AHF was one of the primary sources of funding for al-Qaida network activities in the region. The U.S. has designated JI, and the 1267 Committee has included it on its list, because of its ties to al-Qaida. JI has committed a series of terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a nightclub in Bali on October 12, 2002 that killed 202 and wounded over 300.
AL-HARAMAYN FOUNDATION (KENYA & TANZANIA)
-- Information available to the U.S. shows that AHF offices in Kenya and Tanzania provide support, or act for or on behalf of AIA and Al-Qaida. AIAI shares ideological, financial and training links with al-Qaida and financial links with several NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] and companies, including AHF, which is used to transfer funds. AIAI also has invested in the "legitimate" business activities of AHF.
-- As early as 1997, U.S. and other friendly authorities were informed that the Kenyan branch of AHF was involved in plotting terrorist attacks against Americans. As a result, a number of individuals connected to AHF in Kenya were arrested and later deported by Kenyan authorities.
-- In August 1997, an AHF employee indicated that the planned attack against the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi would be a suicide bombing carried out by crashing a vehicle into the gate at the Embassy. A wealthy AHF official outside East Africa agreed to provide the necessary funds. Information available to the U.S. shows that AHF was used as a cover for another organization whose priorities include dislike for the U.S. Government's alleged anti-Muslim stance and purposed U.S. support for Christian movements fighting Islamic countries.
-- Also in 1997, AHF senior activities in Nairobi decided to alter their (then) previous plans to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and instead sought to attempt the assassination of U.S. citizens. During this time period, an AHF official indicated he had obtained five hand grenades and seven "bazookas" from a source in Somalia. According to information available to the U.S., these weapons were to be used in a possible assassination attempt against a U.S. official.
-- Information available to the U.S. shows that a former Tanzanian AHF Director was believed to be associated with UBL and was responsible for making preparations for the advance party that planned the August 7, 1998, bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. As a result of these attacks, 224 people were killed.
-- Shortly before the dual-Embassy bombing attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, a former AHF official in Tanzania met with another conspirator to the attacks and cautioned the individual against disclosing knowledge of preparations for the attacks. Around the same time, four individuals led by an AHF official were arrested in Europe. At that time, they admitted maintaining close ties with EIJ and Gamma Islamiyah.
-- Wadih el-Hage, a leader of the East African al-Qaida cell and personal secretary to UBL, visited the Kenya offices of AHF before the 1998 dual-embassy attacks. Searches conducted by authorities revealed that el-Hage possessed contact information for a senior AHF official who was head of AHF's Africa Committee, the overseeing authority for AHF's offices in Kenya and Tanzania.
-- In early 2003, individuals affiliated with AHF in Tanzania discussed the status of plans for an attack against several hotels in Zanzibar. The scheduled attacks did not take place due to increased security by local authorities, but planning for the attacks remained active.
-- Information made available to the U.S. shows that AHF offices in Kenya and Tanzania provide support, or act for or on behalf of al-Qaida and AIM.
AL-HARAMAIN FOUNDATION (PAKISTAN)
-- Sometime in 2000, an AHF representative in Karachi, Pakistan, met with Zelinkhan Yandarbiev. The U.S. has designated Yandarbiev, and the 1267 Committee has included him on its list because of his connections to al-Qaida. The AHF representative and Yandarbiev reportedly resolved the issue of delivery to Chechnya of Zenit missiles, Sting anti-aircraft missiles, and hand-held anti-tank weapons.
-- Before the removal of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, the AHF in Pakistan supported the Taliban and other groups. It was linked to the UBL-financed and designated terrorist organization, Makhtab al-Khidemat (MK). In one instance, some time in 2000, the MK director instructed funds to be deposited in AHF accounts in Pakistan and from there transferred to other accounts.
-- At least two former AHF employees who worked in Pakistan are suspected of having al-Qaida ties. One AHF employee in Pakistan is detained at Guantanamo Bay on suspicion of financing al-Qaida operations. Another former AHF employee in Islamabad was identified as an alleged al-Qaida member who reportedly planned to carry out several devastating terrorist operations in the United States. In January 2001, extremists with ties to individuals associated with a fugitive UBL lieutenant were indirectly involved with a Pakistani branch of the AHF.
-- As of late 2002, a senior member of AHF in Pakistan, who has also been identified as a "bin Laden facilitator," reportedly operated a human smuggling ring to facilitate travel of al-Qaida members and their families out of Afghanistan to various other countries.
-- AHF in Pakistan also supports the designated terrorist organization, Lashkar E-Taibah (LET).
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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