FROM THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2002
Designations of Somalia and Bosnia-Herzegovina Branches of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation
"We must assure people around the world who are giving money to help others that all of the money given for charitable purposes only goes for good purposes. Organizations that pervert the name of charity with acts of hatred and cruelty are an affront to us all, and we will find them, expose them, and shut them down."
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill
March 11, 2002
Today the United States and Saudi Arabia acted jointly to block the funds of the Somalia and Bosnia-Herzegovina branches of the Al Haramain Islamic foundation because these branches were diverting charitable funds to terrorism. This first joint designation opens a new phase in international cooperation to destroy the terrorist financing network. And it marks the strength of the anti-terror coalition six months after the attacks of September 11.
The Saudi Arabia-based Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation is a private, charitable, and educational organization dedicated to promoting Islamic teaching throughout the world. A growing amount of its funding comes from grants from other countries, individual Muslim benefactors, and special campaigns, which selectively target Muslim-owned business entities around the world as sources for donations.
The branch offices of Al Haramain in Somalia and Bosnia are clearly linked to terrorist financing. The Somalia office of Al-Haramain is linked to Usama bin Laden's al-Qaida network and Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (AIAI), a Somali terrorist group. Al-Haramain Somalia employed AIAI members and provided them with salaries through Al-Barakaat Bank, which was designated on November 7, 2001 under E.O. 13224 because of its activities as a principal source of funding, intelligence and money transfers for Usama bin Laden.
The Bosnia office of Al-Haramain is linked to Al-Gama'at Al-Islamiyya, an Egyptian terrorist group. Al-Gama'at Al-Islamiyya was designated on November 2, 2001 and it is a signatory to Usama bin Laden's Fatwah dated February 23, 1998, targeting Americans and their allies.
Over the past few years, Al-Haramain Somalia has funneled money to AIAI by disguising funds as if they were intended for orphanage projects or Islamic school and mosque construction. The organization has also employed AIAI members and provided them with salaries through Barakaat Banks and Remittances, a subsidiary of Al-Barakaat Bank.
Even after AIAI was named in the Annex to Executive Order 13224 on September 23, 2001, and subsequently designated by the United Nations under UNSCR 1333, Al-Haramain Somalia has continued to provide financial support to AIAI. In late December 2001, Al-Haramain Somalia was facilitating the travel of AIAI members in Somalia to Saudi Arabia where the AIAI members planned to apply for residency permits.
The Secretary of the Treasury has the authority to designate the Al-Haramain Somalia and Bosnia offices as subject to Executive Order 13224 pursuant to paragraphs (d)(i) and (d)(ii) based on a determination that it assists in, sponsors, or provides financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, or is otherwise associated with, persons listed as subject to EO 13224.
"We put the world's financial institutions on notice: if you do business with terrorists, if you support them or sponsor them, you will not do business with the United States of America."
President George W. Bush, 11/7/01
Starving the terrorists of funding remains both a priority and a success of the war on terrorism. Ever since the President took his initial action in freezing terrorist finances, the international coalition has continuously strengthened its efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy the pipelines from which terrorist receive money.
Our first step has been to deny terrorists access to the world's organized financial structures; simultaneously, we have been moving to bring more of informal money transfer systems and phony charities under government regulation. Both lines of attack have produced results.