UK Crescent Relief 'charity' sent earthquake aid funds to 3 terror plotters - links to Jamaat Al Fuqra and Lashkar E Taiba
August 15, 2006
CHARITY chiefs could launch a probe into claims the jet bomb plot was funded with cash raised here for Pakistani quake victims.
Investigators in Pakistan believe £50million was siphoned off from genuine relief groups for terrorists.
Intelligence services are desperately trying to trace the cash which came from several British charities.
One which could face investigation was named as Crescent Relief of Dagenham, Essex.
The Charity Commission said: "We take the issue of allegations about charities and terrorism very seriously.
"We are aware of the speculation suggesting links between UK charities and the bomb plot. However, we use our legal powers on the basis of evidence.
"We are looking into the suggestions to decide what action may be required."
It has been alleged that several of the plot suspects went to Pakistan after the October 2005 quake which killed almost 80,000.
The alarm was first raised two months ago when British authorities spotted a £50million transfer of charity funds to Kashmir.
Some of the cash was collected by three Britons who were later arrested.
An undated photograph of Mati-ur-Rehman, a senior figure from an al-Qaida-linked militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was published in Pakistan newspapers in Karachi August 18, 2004. Two key suspects being hunted in Pakistan were Matiur Rehman and Abdur Rehman, a wealthy British national of Afghan origin, both of whom are said to have al Qaeda pedigrees. REUTERS/Government Handout
Charities probed for links with bomb plot
By Simon Cameron-Moore
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Investigations into a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners in mid-air, foiled by British, Pakistani and U.S. security agencies a week ago, have focused on the possible financing role played by Islamic charities.\
Suspicion has fallen on two Pakistani charities said to be linked to banned militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad and its affiliate Jamaat-ul-Furqa, according to Pakistani intelligence officials who say a string of arrests were made in the past week.
In particular, authorities are investigating donations made from abroad
"We are looking into the activities of al-Rasheed Trust and al Asar Trust because there are some questions over whether they have been involved in money transfers from Britain to Pakistan during the earthquake relief effort, and whether the funds were subsequently forwarded to conspirators in the plot to blow up passenger planes," said a Pakistani intelligence official.
"Intelligence agencies arrested at least 17 people belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad from three districts of southern Punjab," he added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Last Friday, the Pakistan government confirmed the arrest of seven people, including two British Muslims of Pakistani descent, and said one of the Britons, Rashid Rauf had links to al Qaeda.
Britain arrested 24 suspects last week, but the international investigation into the conspiracy began last year, and several plotters were tracked for some time.
Two key suspects being hunted in Pakistan were Matiur Rehman and Abdur Rehman, a wealthy British national of Afghan origin, both of whom are said to have al Qaeda pedigrees.
Abdur Rehman, who is in his fifties, is believed to have mentored and given orders to two of the suicide bombers who carried the attacks on London's transport network in July last year, Pakistani intelligence sources said.
Rehman fought with mujahideen guerrillas against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, later recruited young Muslims in Western countries to fight in both Bosnia and Chechnya during the 1990s.
His namesake, Matiur Rehman, had links with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Pakistani Sunni Muslim sectarian militant group allied to al Qaeda, and is wanted for his role in an assassination attempt on President Pervez Musharraf.
While the majority of those arrested are British Muslims, a number had reportedly visited Pakistan, reinforcing perceptions among security analysts that the country is an incubator and transit point for militants.
Pakistan's Daily Times newspaper reported last Friday that a U.K.-based Islamic charity had remitted large sums of money to three individuals in three different bank accounts in Pakistani Kashmir last December and that the funds donated for victims of the deadly October Kashmir earthquake were siphoned off to bankroll the airline bomb plot.
The newspaper said all three, including two British nationals had subsequently been arrested.
London's Evening Standard reported on Tuesday that several million dollars had been transferred to the suspect accounts.
British newspapers have reported that Rauf and his brother, Tayib, who was among those arrested in Britain, had links to an aid organisation called Crescent Relief.
Western media has also speculated that Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an Islamic charity that the United States designated as a terrorist organisation this year, could also be involved.
Coincidentally, its leader was put under house arrest last Thursday, but a Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday it was totally unrelated to the investigation into the plot in Britain.
Though it operates freely in Pakistan, Jamaat-ud-Dawa is said to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group India suspects could be linked the July 11 bomb attacks on Mumbai's rail system that killed over 180 people.
Pakistan banned many militant groups after joining a U.S.-led war on terrorism following al Qaeda's attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Musharraf's government is often criticised for not taking more forceful action to stamp them out.
Previously, Pakistani intelligence used groups such as Jaish and Lashkar-e-Taiba to run a proxy war against Indian forces in Kashmir, but several ended up forging links with al Qaeda, and their splinter groups have provided foot soldiers for Osama bin Laden's network, according to security analysts.