Us Muslims Not Involved In Aiding Terrorism: Senate Probe Report

WASHINGTON, Nov 20: The US Senate has wrapped up a high-profile investigation into US Muslim organizations and terrorism financing, saying it found no evidence to suggest a link between the two. The finance committee of the Senate, which went to a two-week break this weekend, concluded that none of nearly two dozen Muslim groups investigated raised funds for terrorist activities. This highly unusual inquiry took two years to complete the investigation during which the Senate committee was allowed to go through private financial information held by the government. The US Internal Revenue Service had provided the panel with financial records and donor lists of Muslim charities, think tanks and other organizations. Nine were based in the Washington area. We did not find anything alarming enough that required additional follow-up beyond what law-enforcement agencies are already doing, said Sen Charles E. Grassley, a Republican from Iowa who headed the inquiry. Since the Sept 11, 2001, attacks, the US government has frozen millions of dollars in assets allegedly linked to Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups and shut down some of the biggest US-based Islamic charities. Even mainstream Muslim organizations, like the Islamic Society of North America and the Islamic Circle of North America, were investigated but have now been absolved of any involvement with terrorist activities. In September, when ISNA was still under investigation, Karen Hughes, the US undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, attended its annual convention. Some charities, such as the Illinois-based Global Relief Foundation, had their assets frozen. In 2002, the GRF was also designated a terrorist-financing entity by the US Treasury Department. In launching their inquiry in December 2003, Senators Grassley and Max Baucus, the committee’s ranking Democrat, had expressed concerns that charities and foundations play a crucial role in terror financing. Some Muslims, however, protested that the Senate investigation unfairly cast a cloud over many groups. It was really just a fishing expedition, said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. They didn’t catch any fish. ISNA’s executive director, Louay Safi, said the group always knew there was nothing wrong with its finances. But it is good to see that they have come to that conclusion as well. Mr Safi regretted that many innocent Muslim groups have been smeared in the investigation. In August 2003, US President George Bush froze the assets of five pro-Palestinian charities abroad, depriving Palestinian orphans of their much-needed aid. Thousands of Palestinian orphans and destitute families took to the streets the same month to protest President Bush’s decision. We’re very pleased but not surprised, as there’s never been any funding of anything remotely related to terrorist activities, said Nancy Luque, an attorney for Muslim charities and institutes in Herndon, near Washington. Wendell Belew, an attorney for a Muslim charity association, said: We’re very pleased that their examination uncovered no problems on the part of our members. His group includes two Falls Church nonprofits: the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the Muslim World League. Several of the organizations targeted in the inquiry remain under investigation by the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security.