WASHINGTON – The Bush administration on Wednesday accused a Sudan-based relief organization and five of its officials of helping finance Usama bin Laden (search) and other terrorists.
The Treasury Department's action means U.S. banks must block any assets found in this country belonging to the Islamic African Relief Agency (search) and the five designated officials. People in the United States are not allowed to provide money to them.
The department said the group, headquartered in Khartoum, Sudan, has more than 40 offices worldwide, including one in Columbia, Mo. The five officials designated by Treasury are all listed as being outside this country.
A message seeking comment was left with the group's office in Missouri.
Treasury alleged that international offices of the Islamic African Relief Agency "provided direct financial support" for bin Laden. It also alleged that the group "engaged in a joint program with an institute controlled by (bin Laden) that was involved in providing assistance to Taliban (search) fighters."
The government alleged that the overseas branches of the group provided "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to bin Laden in 1999. Treasury also believes that as early as 2003 the group was responsible for moving money to the Palestinian territories to support terrorist activities and served "as a conduit to Hamas (search) in one Western European country."
The five officials designated Wednesday are Mohammed Ibrahim Sulaiman, listed by Treasury as secretary general at the group's headquarters in Khartoum; Jaffar Ahmad Abdullah Makki, south Asia region director; Abdul Aziz Abbakar Muhamad, Pakistan director; Khalid Ahmad Jumah Al-Sudani, Middle East regional director; and Ibrahim Buisir, representative in Ireland.
Meanwhile, the office in Missouri, which goes by the name of the Islamic American Relief Agency, was searched by federal and local law enforcement officials on Wednesday.
People wearing FBI outfits carried computers, cardboard boxes and a file cabinet out of the office and loaded the equipment into a white van and U-Haul truck. An FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza would not say whether the search was connected to terrorism. He also declined to characterize the investigation, saying the federal search warrant remained under seal.