The report summarizing the inquiry doesn't accuse the Taibah International Aid Association of financing terror but suggests that its actions are consistent with doing so and links it to an alleged alQaeda front. Taibah is run in the U.S. by a prominent Muslim activist who heads a mosque in Virginia and by another man terror experts believe is a relative of Osama bin Laden. The other man has a residence in northern Virginia.
Taibah has told the Internal Revenue Service that it is "a missionary in the United States to promote the Muslim faith" and to aid needy Muslims world-wide. The group has been under scrutiny since shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when Bosnia's Interior Ministry claimed to have averted a terror attack involving a Taibah computer consultant and suspected member of alQaeda, Mr. bin Laden's terror network.
The report concluded that an Islamic charity the U.S. Treasury accuses of being an alQaeda front, the Global Relief Foundation, was run in Bosnia "under the aegis of Taibah International." The report found evidence of "fictitious declarations of affiliation and employment" and of visas for entry into Bosnia for suspected militants. It concluded that "large cash sums were withdrawn by management... which were never accounted for," indicating "a wide scope for possible illegal spending." Some payments went to religious schools and others were listed as "assistance" but "without personal identification of the beneficiary," while still others were "of unknown origin and character."
The investigators traced Taibah funds from the Al-Rajhi Bank in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, although the report doesn't accuse the bank of complicity. Banking magnate Suleiman al Rajhi, a bank principal, is the financial sponsor of several Islamic charities in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Herndon, Va., that were raided in March by U.S. terror-finance investigators. A federal suit filed in Washington, D.C., by victims of the Sept. 11 attacks accuses Mr. Rajhi of helping fund alQaeda, but the U.S. hasn't accused him of that and he adamantly denies it. A lawyer for the Rajhi family had no immediate comment.
The report "proves that Taibah International has been funding terrorism," said Rita Katz of the SITE Institute, a terror-research organization. Ronald Motley, the suit's lead lawyer, criticized the U.S. for failing to list Taibah as a sponsor of terrorism and for not freezing its assets, and suggested that the U.S. is trying to avoid embarrassing Saudi Arabia, a key ally.
"We do not share that view," said Rob Nichols, a Treasury Department spokesman. He noted that the U.S. has worked extensively with the Saudis to shut down terror financiers, freezing several Saudi groups' assets, and that the government there has begun acting against suspect charities itself.
Abdullah bin Laden, who is listed as a Taibah officer in Virginia, owns residential property in Falls Church, where the charity maintains a postal box. He also used to run the U.S. office of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, a Saudi government-backed group. Mr. bin Laden couldn't be located for comment. Terrorism experts say they believe he is related to Osama bin Laden, but the exact relationship couldn't be determined. The bin Ladens are a prominent business clan; most are estranged from Osama and denounce terrorism. At least two also are named Abdullah, including a well-known Boston investor whom U.S. officials don't suspect of terror involvement.
Another Taibah officer in the U.S. is Abdelrahman Alamoudi, a prominent Muslim and an avowed supporter of anti-Israeli terror groups. An official at the American Muslim Foundation, which he heads, said he was unavailable. A third Taibah officer in Virginia, Samir Salah, also is an officer of Safa Trust, one of the Herndon entities raided in March. A message left for Mr. Salah at Dar al Hijra mosque in Falls Church, where he is president, wasn't immediately returned. The U.S. lists Mr. Salah as an officer of the Bahamas branch of the Bank al Taqwa, which the Treasury Department alleges is a money manager for terrorist groups.
Taibah has told the IRS that about half of the donations to its U.S. branch would come from Saudi Arabia; it raised $140,000 in 2000. Nail al Jubeir, spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, said he wasn't familiar with Taibah. "We will definitely look into it to see if they are still raising money in Saudi Arabia," he said. If so, "we would love to question" any donors.
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