Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday that it is dissolving a large charity, which the United States has accused of helping to finance Osama Bin Laden's al Qaeda network, and transferring its funds into a new national entity that will be the sole vehicle for Saudi charitable donations for international causes.
The declaration at the Saudi Embassy in Washington came as the U.S. Treasury Department disclosed that the U.S. and Saudi governments have designated five additional branches of the al-Haramain Charitable Foundation as supporters of al Qaeda and other "terrorist" groups, making the branches subject to international sanctions, including the freezing of their assets.
In a press conference at the Saudi Embassy, Adel Jubeir, the foreign affairs adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, said the consolidation of charitable fundraising in the kingdom and the distribution of those funds abroad showed the kingdom's commitment to ensuring that such donations are not used to support terrorism.
"We are determined to crush this evil from our midst," Jubeir said.
He said Saudi authorities also have decided to "go after the finances" of terrorist networks, in part by cracking down on charities that transfer money to foreign beneficiaries. To that end, he said, a new organization is being established, the Saudi National Commission for Relief and Charity Work Abroad.
"The new entity that is being set up will be the sole vehicle for private Saudi contributions that are raised in Saudi Arabia" for foreign causes, Jubeir said. All Saudi charities sending money abroad "will be folded into this new national commission," he said. He said the commission would "operate with total transparency," with an accounting every three months and audited statements every year.
"Charity is a part of our faith," Jubeir explained. "And charity is noble."
Al-Haramain, a huge charity in Saudi Arabia, raised as much as $50 million a year at its peak, Jubeir said. According to him, he expects the new commission to raise and distribute some $100 million per annum. (menareport.com)
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