US Not Prepared To Unfreeze Accounts Of Leading Kuwaiti Charity
Washington is not ready to free-up overseas assets of the Kuwait-based Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, which it has accused of financing terrorism, US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said on Tuesday.
"We're not prepared to unfreeze what we consider to be sub accounts, but we're continuing to exchange information," O'Neill told reporters when asked if the US would unfreeze the society's accounts.
The society was accused of financing terrorism in January, a charge the society rejects, and its assets were frozen, according to an AFP report.
O'Neill was speaking following a meeting with Kuwaiti First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, Finance Minister Yussif al-Ibrahim and Central Bank Governor Sheikh Salem al-Sabah.
He said they reviewed how both countries could proceed to ensure that charity donations are properly channeled and do not finance terrorism.
"We're most anxious that money given for good purposes doesn't end up being used for bad purposes, and to take every effort to make sure this doesn't happen," said O'Neill, describing the talks held as "very successful".
"We do have information from places around the world where there have been instances, without the knowledge of people who gave the money, of some of the money they gave ending up providing support to those who want to do evil things," he added.
O'Neill said the United States appreciated the "wonderful cooperation" it has received from Kuwait with regard to the Emirate's "very quick condemnation" after the September 11 attacks and its "very quick and forthcoming action blocking the accounts or names of people identified as terrorists or suspected terrorists."
O'Neill, who has been pursuing suspected terrorist financial structures since the events of September 11, left Kuwait for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a tour that has already taken him to Bahrain, the region's leading offshore banking center.
"It's an ongoing effort; I don't know that it'll ever be finished," O'Neill said of identifying terrorists and blocking their funds.
The Kuwaiti government has already implemented measures aimed at controlling charities, including the formation of a supreme council to oversee their work, closing down unlicensed societies and removing illegal donation booths around the country.
Leading Islamic charities in Kuwait, which have repeatedly refuted charges, mainly by liberal groups, that they are funding terrorist organizations abroad, are reportedly cooperating with new government controls. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)