Al-Haramain charity awaiting appeal verdict in US court.

RIYADH: Attorneys representing the defunct Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation criticized the US government for designating the Saudi-based charity as a “global terrorist organization” without spelling out the charges against it in 2004.


Attorney David Cole made this argument before a US court during a hearing on Wednesday about the US government’s seizure of assets belonging to the US chapter of Al-Haramain that led to a protracted legal battle.

The case is being heard by a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in the state of Oregon. Attorneys for the charity asked the court to give their client another chance to defend itself.

The US Treasury Department labeled Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation of Oregon as having ties to terrorist groups and having direct links with Osama Bin Laden. The charity has been in court for years trying to clear its name from the terror list.

Thomas H. Nelson, another attorney of Al-Haramain, told Arab News that the primary activity that the Ashland branch of the charity engaged in was Islamic work, “in this case the distribution of Qur’an and Islamic literature in the US.” He said the US government claimed without any substantial proof that Al-Haramain “supported Islamic fighters against the Russian occupiers in Chechnya.”

“From the beginning, the US government has been trying to inflame public passion against Al-Haramain,” said Nelson, adding that Washington’s claim of Al-Haramain’s direct association with Osama bin Laden was also proved wrong.

On his part, Douglas Letter, the US government attorney, said: “It would be extremely burdensome to give a list of charges against the Saudi charity and a large number of such organizations.”

But, US Appeals Court Judge Susan Graber questioned whether having too many suspects means an organization or a government shouldn’t try to inform them of the charges against them.

“If you live in a city with a lot of bank robbers, you still have to give them a notice of charges,” Graber said. Cole said that Al-Haramain deserved to know the reasons for placing it on the list of terrorist organizations in 2004.

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