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U.S. official says Kuwait’s Awqaf Minister funding terrorists

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Shariah Finance Watch, a project of the Center for Security Policy reported on Monday that a report was released in which U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligencem, David S. Cohen unofficially accused the Minister of Justice and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Dr Nayef Al-Ajmi of longstanding support and funding of terrorism.

Cohen and the U.S. Treasury have been fighting and looking for ways to stem the flow of money in supporting terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaida.

Cohen made the comment earlier in March 2014 in Washington to the panic of Awqaf of being caught when Cohen said, “But a number of fundraisers operating in more permissive jurisdictions – particularly in Kuwait and Qatar – are soliciting donations to fund extremist insurgents, not to meet legitimate humanitarian needs. The recipients of these funds are often terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate, al-Nusrah Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the group formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI).”

“But the appointment of Nayef al-Ajmi to be both Minister of Justice and Minister of Islamic Endowments (Awqaf) and Islamic Affairs is a step in the wrong direction. Al-Ajmi has a history of promoting jihad in Syria. In fact, his image has been featured on fundraising posters for a prominent al-Nusrah Front financier. And following his appointment, the Ministry of Awqaf announced it would allow non-profit organizations and charities to collect donations for the Syrian people at Kuwaiti mosques, a measure we believe can be easily exploited by Kuwait-based terrorist fundraisers.”

Salafist MP Humoud Al-Hamdan of Kuwait said, “The false accusation hurled at Minister of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Dr Nayef Al-Ajmi by an American official that he is funding terrorism is a blatant interference in the internal affairs of Kuwait."

But Cohen has not backed down and said, “But there are countries in the region that could be doing much more. Our ally Kuwait has become the epicenter of fundraising for terrorist groups in Syria. A number of Kuwaiti fundraisers exploit the charitable impulses of unwitting donors by soliciting humanitarian donations from both inside and outside the country, cloaking their efforts in humanitarian garb, but diverting those funds to extremist groups in Syria.”

Meanwhile, donors who already harbor sympathies for Syrian extremists have found in Kuwait fundraisers who openly advertise their ability to move funds to fighters in Syria.”

While Kuwait denies any involvement of funding terrorists groups, the New York Times reported in 2010 that cash flowing to terrorists, even out of Kuwait, has been evading U.S. efforts.

In that report, the New York Times said that as the United States pushes for more aggressive crackdowns on suspected supporters of terrorism, foreign leaders have pushed back.

“Kuwaiti officials, for example, resisted what they called “draconian” measures sought by the United States against a prominent charity and dismissed allegations against it as “unconvincing,” according to the New York Times referencing one diplomatic cable.

“In Kuwait, for instance, American officials have voiced repeated concerns that Islamic charities — largely unregulated by the government there — are using philanthropic donations to finance terrorism abroad. But a Kuwaiti minister, in a meeting last year with the United States ambassador, “was as frank and pessimistic as ever when it came to the subject of apprehending and detaining terror financiers and facilitators under Kuwait’s current legal and political framework,” a memo summarizing the meeting said.”

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