WASHINGTON – Two more groups and two individuals have lost their financial assets following an order by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, bringing to 168 the number of organizations that have been shut down under a measure designed to block the funding of entities suspected of providing assistance to terror organizations.
The two groups are Afghan Support Committee, a non-governmental organization with operations in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, that was founded by terrorist leader Usama bin Laden, and Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, a Kuwait-based NGO with operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The individuals whose finances were frozen are ASC finance chief Abu Bakr Al-Jiziri and RIHS Director Abd al-Muhsin Al-Libi.
According to investigators, ASC and RIHS have financed and facilitated terrorist activities while portraying themselves as legitimate charities. Al-Jiziri and Al-Libi collected money for Al Qaeda from local Arab NGOs by claiming the funds were for orphans and widows. They effectively defrauded donors and inflated the numbers of orphans and widows.
"The Afghan Support Committee, branches of the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society and two of their employees defrauded well-intentioned donors and turned funds meant for good into funds for evil," O'Neill said at a news conference. "(They) have been stealing from widows and orphans to fund Al Qaeda terrorism."
Assets are now frozen. There is a 10-day period during which international banks will document how much money is associated with these organizations in accounts around the world.
Treasury Department spokesman Rob Nichols said the government does not believe any money is parked in the United States, but it is possible that people in the United States gave money to the two organizations.
Wednesday's action comes as a result of a task force investigation by the U.S. Customs Service, the Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department.
Under an order passed by President Bush following the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, assets of suspected terror organizations would be frozen. The United Nations also passed a similar measure.
Worldwide, more than $68 million in assets have been cut off.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.