Skip to comments.Kuwaiti Charity Designated for Bankrolling al Qaida Network
Posted on 06/14/2008 7:02:55 AM PDT by b4its2late
June 13, 2008 HP-1023
Washington - The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated the Kuwait-based Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS) for providing financial and material support to al Qaida and al Qaida affiliates, including Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Jemaah Islamiyah, and Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya. RIHS has also provided financial support for acts of terrorism.
"Designating and freezing the assets of an organization engaged in charitable work is a decision not taken lightly because the last thing we want to do is cut off needed humanitarian assistance," said Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. "However, the reality is that RIHS has used charity and humanitarian assistance as cover to fund terrorist activity and harm innocent civilians, often in poor and impoverished regions. We have a responsibility to do all we can to shut down the funding channels of terrorism."
RIHS was designated today under Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing financial, technological, or material support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. Any assets RIHS holds under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with RIHS.
The RIHS offices in Afghanistan (RIHS-Afghanistan) and Pakistan (RIHS-Pakistan) were designated by the U.S. Government and the United Nations 1267 Committee in January 2002 based on evidence of their support for al Qaida. At that time, there was no evidence that the Kuwait-based RIHS headquarters (RIHS-HQ) knew that RIHS-Afghanistan and RIHS-Pakistan were financing al Qaida.
Since that time, however, evidence has mounted implicating RIHS-HQ in terrorism support activity. The U.S. Government has learned that RIHS senior leadership, who have actively managed all aspects of the organization's day-to-day operations, have been aware of both legitimate and illegitimate uses of RIHS funds.
"We designated two branches of RIHS in 2002, and since then a number of other countries have taken action against RIHS. We look forward to continuing our work with Kuwaiti authorities to ensure that legitimate charitable giving can reach those in need and not be diverted to terrorist organizations," Levey continued.
Suspected of providing support to terrorism, RIHS offices have been closed or raided by the governments of Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, and Russia.
In countries where RIHS activities are banned or scrutinized by local governments, RIHS-HQ has developed multiple methods to continue its operations. After the Government of Bangladesh closed RIHS offices, RIHS-HQ funneled money into Bangladesh through another organization to continue RIHS activities and to help shield it from scrutiny there. RIHS-HQ has used RIHS officials and other individuals to courier funds out of the country in order to evade the scrutiny of the international financial system. In some countries, including Albania and Kosovo in particular, RIHS senior officials have assisted RIHS branch offices with name changes, and then continued to provide financial support to the new organizations.
RIHS Support for Terrorism in South Asia
RIHS-HQ provides significant financial and logistical support to the U.N.-designated terrorist group Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based terrorist group with links to the al Qaida network. LeT was reportedly implicated in the July 2006 attack on multiple Mumbai commuter trains, and in the December 2001 attack against the Indian Parliament. As of 2007, RIHS provided office space to an LeT leader who visited Kuwait to raise funds for LeT operations. RIHS officials accompanied the LeT leader while he raised funds throughout Kuwait. As of late 2007, RIHS sent money to LeT elements on a monthly basis, and regularly transferred funds to LeT representatives' bank accounts in Pakistan. In some cases, LeT has received the funds at charitable entities associated with RIHS.
RIHS also reportedly provided a key source of funding for terrorist attacks carried out by an extremist group in Bangladesh in 2005. Despite a February 2005 Bangladeshi government ban of the terrorist group Jamaaat Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB), on August 17, 2005, JMB launched a series of near-simultaneous bomb attacks across Bangladesh, killing two and injuring 64 persons. Over 400 bombs exploded during the course of these attacks, which were carried out in 63 of Bangladesh's 64 provinces. Following the bombings, RIHS was identified as one of the key sources of funding needed for staging these attacks. After the August 2005 bombings, RIHS was accused of funding JMB's military activities with overt and covert funds. These funds were channeled through a senior leader of a Bangladeshi Islamic organization. As of early 2005, RIHS in Bangladesh had contributed millions of dollars to this organization.
RIHS Support for Terrorism in Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa
RIHS has provided financial and logistical support to the Southeast Asia based terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Specifically, an RIHS employee provided logistical support to JI's fugitive leader Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin (a.k.a. "Hambali") prior to his capture in 2003. Due to the high security conditions during the 2002 Asian Summit, the RIHS employee escorted Hambali from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to an alternate location, where he then provided him with accommodations. The employee was later captured and sentenced to life imprisonment on terrorism charges. An RIHS representative in Indonesia provided funding to a JI member collecting money for JI activities. The JI member funneled the funds he received from RIHS and other sources to JI associates for the procurement of weapons to support their operations.
RIHS has also funded al Qaida and like-minded terrorist groups in Somalia. Al Qaida supporters in Somalia reportedly have historically received significant funds through RIHS. In addition, RIHS provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to a university controlled by Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya.