Backgrounder: Muslim World League
Links to Terrorism
Posted: May 19, 2009
Two well-known international charities affiliated with the Muslim World League - the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and the Charitable Foundations of al-Haramain - have been charged with funding terror by U.S. government officials, United Nations Security Council resolutions and others currently engaged in legal investigations against them.
Although the MWL has on several occasions condemned terrorism in general terms, it has not addressed its own support for terrorist groups, including Hamas, Abu Sayyaf group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Jemaah Islamiyya and its chapters' support for Al Qaeda.
- In August 2006, the US Department of Treasury designated the Philippine and Indonesian branch offices of the IIRO "for facilitating fundraising for Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups." The Treasury additionally designated Abd Al Hamid Sulaiman Al-Mujil, the Executive Director of the Eastern Province Branch of IIRO, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. "Al-Mujil has a long record of supporting Islamic militant groups, and he has maintained a cell of regular financial donors in the Middle East who support extremist causes," said Stuart Levey, Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Al-Mujil provided donor funds directly to Al Qaeda and is identified as a major fundraiser for the Philippine Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Southeast Asian group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).
- In November 2006, the United Nations Security Council Committee 1267, also referred to as the Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee, updated its "Consolidated List of individuals and entities belonging to or associated with the Taliban or Al Qaeda," thereby including the Philippine and Indonesian branches of the IIRO.
- In January 2005, a Manhattan U.S. District Court allowed a suit by family members of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks against the IIRO (and others) to go forward. The suit alleged that IIRO financed terror. The case, first submitted in 2002, brought the suit against the IIRO, Sanabel al Kheer Inc., the Muslim World League, the SAAR Foundation, Rabita Trust, al- Haramain Islamic Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation, and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY).
- In July 2003, during the 9/11 Commission hearings, numerous analysts identified IIRO as a major radical Islamic institution in part responsible for fueling Islamic militancy around the world. Testimony delivered at the commission attested to the fact that Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden, arrived in the Philippines in 1988 and became the founding director of the IIRO. He used the IIRO to funnel Al Qaeda funds to the Abu Sayyaf group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
- In April 2002, the Israeli Defense Forces discovered official documents of the Palestinian Authority in which "the IIRO report submitted to the Palestinians lists 14 Islamic committees and bodies that were given IIRO money, a sum of $280,000. All 14 bodies are known to be identified with the Hamas. It is noted in the report that the money is provided for supporting the fatalities, the wounded, as well as the Hamas-identified committees/bodies themselves."
- On March 20, 2002, U.S. federal agents raided the offices of the MWL and the IIRO along with a dozen other organizations suspected of laundering money for Al Qaeda in Virginia and Georgia. According to authorities, the IIRO's Virginia office contributed to charities convicted of financing terror, including contributions to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), and the Taibah International Aid Association. The Bosnian Branch of Taibah International was named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on May 6, 2004, for financing Al Qaeda.
- In December 2001, the Canadian government blocked the financial accounts of several Islamic charities operating on Canadian soil, pending investigation of their alleged links to Al Qaeda. These included: Benevolence International Fund, Islamic Relief Organization (a.k.a. the IIRO), Muslim World League and the SAAR Foundation.
- On October 12, 2001, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Rabita Trust, a charity in Pakistan "for its close ties to senior al Qaida leadership and for providing logistical and financial support to Al Qaida." The Rabita Trust was founded in 1988 by Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, the former secretary general of the Muslim World League (MWL) in the 1980s.
- In October of 1999, Abdullah al Turki, secretary general of the MWL, in his capacity of advisor-minister to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, entered in negotiations to become business partner with Muhammad Zouaydi, an Al Qaeda financier for Europe, according to a counterterrorism report prepared by Jean-Charles Brisard for the President of the United Nations Security Council in 2002. The partnership was allegedly initiated for a construction project in Madrid, Spain, worth $ 2.3 million. Several documents, including evidence of financial transaction, established that al Turki and Zouaydi had business relations on a regular basis until at least the year 2000.