Skip to comments.Ottawa pulls Saudi group's charity status. Muslim World League being sued by 9/11 families
Posted on 12/01/2003 10:24:50 PM PST by tubavil
Ottawa pulls Saudi group's charity status Tax violation: Muslim World League being sued by 9/11 families
Stewart Bell National Post
Monday, December 01, 2003
TORONTO - Federal regulators have revoked the charity status of the Canadian branch of a Saudi organization that has faced longstanding allegations of ties to terrorism.
A notice in the government publication Canada Gazette said the Muslim World League (MWL) is one of several charities that "have not met the filing requirements of the Income Tax Act."
The revocation came into effect on Nov. 15, but the organization, dedicated to promoting Islam, was still calling itself an officially registered charity on its Internet site yesterday.
The action by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency was unrelated to terrorism allegations that have dogged the League, founded in Mecca in 1962 and later established in Etobicoke, Ont.
The MWL is among dozens of charities being sued by the families of those killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. "The Muslim World League has numerous connections to al-Qaeda," the suit claims.
The group has publicly condemned terrorism.
The Canadian branch has never itself been accused of supporting terrorists, although one of its directors was also a director of Benevolence International Foundation-Canada, which has been blacklisted under United Nations terror-financing regulations.
But the international offices of the Muslim World League, and those of its sister organization the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), have surfaced repeatedly in intelligence reports and affidavits.
"I know that terrorists who have attacked or tried to attack the United States around the world have been associated with the MWL/IIRO," Special Agent David Kane of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a recent court affidavit.
A U.S. law enforcement task force has been investigating allegations that a series of related companies and charities based in Virginia, including the IIRO and MWL, are involved in the financing of terror.
The class action lawsuit filed by the families of the victims of 9/11 lists several ties between the Osama bin Laden network and the MWL, including claims the charity's office in Peshawar was headed by al-Qaeda co-founder Wa'el Jalaidan."
"Wa'el Jalaidan spread Muslim World League offices around the world. These offices served in the early days of al-Qaeda to attract and train holy warriors for the war in Afghanistan," the suit alleges.
Canadian intelligence claims that Mohamed Harkat, an Ottawa pizza delivery man and suspected member of the bin Laden network, worked for the Muslim World League in Pakistan before coming to Canada. Mahmoud Jaballah, a member of the Egyptian Al Jihad who was caught in Toronto, worked for the IIRO in Pakistan.
During the 1979-89 war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Saudi aid organizations were often used to move money and get fighters into battle zones. Since the war, some of these same groups have been accused of serving as conduits for supporting a broader international campaign of anti-Western Islamic terror.
The Financial Intelligence Branch of the RCMP said in a report last year that "the main source of funding of al-Qaeda are charities, NGO [non-governmental organizations] and commercial enterprises.
"The money is given by supporters and is funnelled to al-Qaeda through the hawala, the international underground banking system."
The organization that eventually evolved into Al Qaeda (the name means "the base" in Arabic) began as the Makhtab al Khadimat, the Office of Services, in Peshawar, Pakistan, according to federal prosecutors, trial testimony and terrorism analysts.
Ms. Katz says that the Makhtab's journal, Al Jihad (holy war), was initially distributed in the United States in 1986 by the Islamic Center of Tucson. The center was also listed at the time as the Office of Services' [Makhtab al Khadimat's] only American branch.
Two people later associated with the Tucson center Wael Hamza Jalaidan, its director, and Wadih El-Hage were eventually linked to Al Qaeda by the authorities. Last year, the government listed Mr. Jalaidan, who heads the Saudi-based World Muslim League, as a founder of Al Qaeda and its logistics chief. Mr. El-Hage was convicted more than a decade later in the 1998 conspiracy to bomb American embassies in Africa. -------- "U.S. Long Underestimated Qaeda's Scope, Officials Say," JUDITH MILLER and DON VAN NATTA Jr., The New York Times, June 9, 2002