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ISLAMIC CHARITIES UNDER ATTACK

Under the pretext of "fighting terror", the United States has been
raiding and freezing the assets of Islamic charities.
Sunday, December 16, 2001

ISLAMIC CHARITIES UNDER ATTACK

Under the pretext of "fighting terror", the United States has been
raiding and freezing the assets of Islamic charities.

Using the so-called Patriot Act, the US has targeted arguably the
three largest Islamic charities based in the United States - Holy Land
Foundation, Global Relief Foundation and Benevolence International.

Whilst the government maintains that it is not fighting Islam, it
targets these charities at the end of the holy month of Ramadan - a
time when Muslims traditionally donate generously to Islamic causes.
All the money donated by Muslims to these organisations throughout the
course of Ramadhan is now frozen, and under the control of the United
States government.

No evidence has ever been provided to demonstrate how these charities
are linked to terrorism. In some cases, it seems merely to be the
result of a slur campaign run against them by various lobby groups.
In other cases, their "crime" would appear to be that they are amongst
the most active providing humanitarian aid to Afghan civilians (such
as is the case with GRF).

The effect of these raids and the freezing of millions of dollars
donated by the Muslim communities of the West will be, potentially,
loss of human life. Throughout the third world, there are untold
numbers of children that depend upon aid provided through these
organisations to survive.

Full details on the activities of these groups can be found at:

*  http://www.grf.org Global Relief Foundation
*  http://www.benevolence.org Benevolence International
*  http://www.hlf.org Holy Land Foundation

The Australian government has announced that it will soon be
publishing a similar list of businesses, organisations, and charities
with "links" to terrorism. Their assets are also expected to be
frozen.


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Sources: Feds raid Islamic charity groups

WASHINGTON (CNN) --Federal agents swept through the offices of two
Islamic charity groups Friday, seizing all financial assets and
records, federal law enforcement sources told CNN.

The raids, the first under the anti-terrorist Patriot Act, were
conducted in Illinois and New Jersey as part of the government's
effort to freeze assets of groups suspected of aiding terrorism.

The coordinated actions stem from orders issued by the Treasury
Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control to freeze the
organizations' assets.

Officials said Customs and IRS agents seized financial records from
the Benevolence International Foundation in Newark, New Jersey.
Earlier, FBI agents executed search warrants to seize records from the
Global Relief Foundation near Chicago, Illinois.

A statement on the Treasury Department's Web site said all financial
assets and all records of both groups were ordered blocked.

The Global Relief Foundation issued a statement Friday strongly
denying any link to terrorism and saying it would fully cooperate with
the investigation.

"We are in the business of helping innocent civilians and take every
precaution to ensure our aid does not go to support or subsidize any
nefarious activity," the statement said.

"Just as we would call the police if our collection box or computer
equipment were being stolen, we would certainly alert the authorities
if we had reason to believe the intended humanitarian purpose of our
aid were being subverted to harm innocent lives."

The statement said it has already had to shut down its worldwide
humanitarian operations.

A Benevolence Foundation spokesman said the asset freeze will shut
down its relief to the poor, at least for the time being.

The Patriot Act, which President Bush signed into law in October,
grants sweeping new powers for intelligence-gathering and
surveillance.

The additional powers include the use of much more international
intelligence information and expanded wiretapping authority, and
strengthens penalties for those who help terrorists and lengthens the
statute of limitations for terrorist acts.

The Global Relief Organization raised more than $5 million last year
for charities in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world.

The charity complained that the raid, coming at the end of Ramadan --
the biggest period of charitable giving for Muslims -- would hurt its
relief efforts.

The Global Relief Organization filed lawsuits last month against large
media outlets, including ABC and the New York Times, claiming that it
has been unfairly portrayed as a terror organization.

Earlier this month, President Bush said the Treasury Department moved
to freeze the assets and accounts of the Holy Land Foundation for
Relief and Development. The government said the organization, based in
Richardson, Texas, acts as a front to finance the militant wing of the
Palestinian group Hamas.

Federal agents and local officers raided the foundation's Texas
headquarters, seizing assets and records and executing what an FBI
agent described as a "blocking order."

Find this article at:
 http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/12/14/inv.raid.charity/index.html


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