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Published on Dec 28, 2013

December 28, 2013 MSNBC News http://MOXNews.com

 

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Islamic charity officials gave millions to al-Qaeda, U.S. says

When Qatar’s royal family was looking for advice on charitable giving, it turned to a well-regarded professor named Abd al-Rahman al-Nu’aymi. The 59-year-old educator had a stellar résumé that included extensive fundraising experience and years of work with international human rights groups.

But one apparent accomplishment was omitted from the list: According to U.S. officials, Nu’aymi also was working secretly as a financier for al-Qaeda, funneling millions of dollars to the terrorist group’s affiliates in Syria and Iraq even as he led campaigns in Europe for greater freedoms for Muslims.

Nu’aymi was one of two men identified by Treasury Department officials last week as major financial backers of al-Qaeda and its regional chapters across the Middle East. Although U.S. officials routinely announce steps to disrupt terrorist financing networks, the individuals named in the latest case are far from ordinary. Both men have served as advisers to government-backed foundations in Qatar and have held high-profile positions with international human rights groups. The second man, a Yemeni, is heavily involved in his country’s U.S.-backed political transition.

Their alleged dual roles — promoting humanitarian causes and civil rights while simultaneously supporting extremist groups — reflect a growing challenge for counterterrorism officials attempting to monitor the torrents of cash flowing to Islamist rebel groups in Syria, current and former U.S. officials say.

“Individuals with one foot in the legitimate world and another in the realm of terrorist financing provide al-Qaeda with a cloak of legitimacy,” said Juan Zarate, a former Treasury Department official and author of “Treasury’s Wars,” a book that describes U.S. efforts to penetrate terrorist financial networks. Zarate said such cases greatly complicate the “financial diplomacy” involved in attempting to disrupt terrorist support networks, especially private funding from wealthy Persian Gulf donors seeking to help Syria’s rebels.

Despite attempts by gulf states to crack down on jihadist financial networks, former and current U.S. officials have described a surge in private support for Islamist extremists in Syria, particularly in Qatar and Kuwait.

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