West cracks down on Saudi group identified as funding source for Al Qaida
The United States has designated a Saudi opposition leader a terrorist
The Treasury Department has identified Saad Al Faqih as a financier to
Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaida. The department said Al Faqih maintained
relations with Bin Laden since the mid-1990s and with Al Qaida's
representative in Britain.
The United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia asked the United Nations
Security Council to freeze Al Faqih's assets and prevent him from
international travel. Al Faqih, head of the Movement for Islamic
Reform in Saudi Arabia, has been based in London and has sought to
incite nationwide protests against the Saudi kingdom.
On Dec. 23, the United Nations imposed sanctions on Al Faqih and
another Saudi national, identified as Adel Batterjee, who has headed
Saudi-financed charities in the United States.
Britain has frozen the assets of the group in a move that could hamper
the Saudi opposition.
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown instructed the Bank
of England to direct all British financial institutions to "freeze"
any funds held for or on behalf of the Saudi opposition group. A
statement by the British Treasury said it believed that the opposition
group was acting on behalf of Al Faqih.
The British action outlaws any financial dealings with Al Faqih and
the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia. Al Faqih has been listed as
director and spokesman of the opposition group.
In mid-December, Al Faqih organized demonstrations throughout Saudi
Arabia. But Saudi security forces, using helicopters and armored
vehicles, dispersed virtually all of the protests.
The United States has asserted that Al Faqih maintained associations
with Al Qaida since the mid-1990s. The Bush administration added that
Al Faqih paid for a satellite phone that Bin Laden allegedly used to
order the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
So far, the UN Security Council has listed 318 individuals and 115
groups under sanctions, which require member states to impose a travel
ban and freeze their financial assets. The Saudi-born Al Faqih, 58,
was said to have a bank account in London.
"Al Faqih and Al Fawwaz shared an office in the late 1990s, and Al
Faqih worked with and provided assistance to Al Fawwaz, who served as
the intermediary between Osama Bin Laden and Al Faqih," the Treasury
The department statement said Al Faqih was associated with Al Qaida
fugitive Abu Musab Al Suri, also known as Mustafa Nasar. The statement
said the website of the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia has been
used by Bin Laden supporters to post Al Qaida-related statements and
images. The website has issued disclaimers warning users not to
attribute postings on the movement's message boards to Al Qaida.
The United States also designated Adel Abdul Batterjee a terrorist
financier. The 47-year-old Batterjee was identified as a financier to
groups that have supported Al Qaida in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya
"Adel Batterjee has ranked as one of the world's foremost terrorist
financiers, who employed his private wealth and a network of
charitable fronts to bankroll the murderous agenda of Al Qaida," said
Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey. "A worldwide asset freeze,
including in his home country of Saudi Arabia, will deal a serious
blow to this key terrorist facilitator."
Batterjee was director of the Benevolence International Foundation
(BIF), incorporated in the United States in 1993. He resigned and
selected Bin Laden confidante Enaam Arnaout to head the organization,
Arnaout was indicted in the United States and in 2003 pleaded guilty
to criminal racketeering conspiracy.
"Evidence of BIF's ties to Al Qaida surfaced in March 2002 searches by
Bosnian authorities of the organization's Sarajevo offices," Treasury
"These searches uncovered numerous handwritten documents detailing the
origin and history of the Al Qaida organization. Among the recovered
files was a copy of a 1988 handwritten draft listing wealthy
financiers of Osama Bin Laden's mujahadeen operations in Afghanistan,
referred to within Al Qaida as the Golden Chain."