Skip to comments.Muslim charity head knew one of the U.S. embassies bombers and met 2 al-Qaida in Kosovo camp
Posted on 05/06/2002 11:58:08 PM PDT by Spar
Attorney denies Muslim charity's European director aided Osama bin Laden's terror network
Mon May 6,10:20 PM ET
By MIKE ROBINSON, Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO - (AP) <An attorney for a Muslim charity acknowledged that its head of European operations knew one of the men convicted in the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. But the lawyer denied the official supported terrorism.
Nabil Sayadi, head of Global Relief Foundation's operations in Europe, was one of several men Spanish authorities allege received money for Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s al-Qaida organization.
Spanish authorities said Sayadi had close ties to Wadih El-Hage, a bin-Laden lieutenant who was convicted in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
Global Relief attorney Rogers Simmons said Monday that Sayadi knew El-Hage, but that Sayadi was not supporting terrorism.
Simmons said Sayadi first met El-Hage when Sayadi was a photojournalist working in Pakistan in the 1990s. He said El-Hage called him in 1996 or 1997 and asked for money for an anti-malaria project that he had launched in Kenya.
The attorney said El-Hage called Sayadi "a couple of times," but Sayadi told him the money was not in the budget.
Global Relief, based in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, was raided by Treasury Department (news - web sites) agents on Dec. 14 and its assets were frozen as part of the terrorism investigation after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The foundation's chairman and co-founder, Rabih Haddad, is being held by the government in Chicago on an immigration violation. His attorneys say he has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before a federal grand jury investigating terrorist funding.
Global Relief denies having anything to do with terrorism and says it has focused only on charity. It has sued the government, asking for release of its assets.
The Associated Press reported April 24 that Spanish authorities arrested two Syrian-born Spaniards as part of a "network of businesses that devoted part of their profits to al-Qaida." Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy named a Nabil Sayadi as someone who received dlrs 180,000 in payments.
Washington-based terrorism investigator Steven Emerson said Sayadi's office is listed in Brussels under the name Fondation Secours Mondiale, French for Global Relief Foundation. He said the number on Sayadi's business card is listed to a phone at a Qatari charity office.
Simmons said Sayadi also knew two men accused of funneling money to al-Qaida-related individuals. He said Sayadi met them when they were working as volunteers at a refugee camp in Kosovo.
The implications of Clinton's and his left-wing third way supporters of his foreign policy speak for themsleves.
Bin Laden aide tied to Bridgeview group
Muslim charity says contacts with him are innocent
By Cam Simpson, Laurie Cohen and Michael Martinez, Tribune staff reporters
Published May 6, 2002
That the Muslim charity Global Relief Foundation sought to distance itself from Wadih El-Hage is understandable. El-Hage was a personal aide to Osama bin Laden and was convicted in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa.
But now it turns out that the top official in Europe for Global Relief, the Bridgeview-based charity whose assets have been frozen as part of a federal investigation into terrorism funding, had known El-Hage for years.
The two communicated several times during the 1990s, a Global Relief lawyer acknowledged this week. And Spanish authorities have characterized El-Hage and Nabil Sayadi, Global Relief's European director in Belgium, as "tight" collaborators "in habitual contact."
The relationship was innocuous, Global Relief maintains. But the admission that the link to El-Hage even exists strengthens a growing web of alleged ties between Al Qaeda and the southwest suburban charity with the worldwide reach.
Global Relief has denied aiding terrorists and has sued the U.S. government, which raided its Bridgeview offices in December and seized its records.
U.S. authorities portray the sanctions against Global Relief as part of a worldwide effort to destroy Al Qaeda's financial network. Those efforts intensified last week when the FBI in Chicago arrested Enaam Arnaout, the head of another local Muslim charity, filing the first criminal charges leveled against any U.S.-based charitable group suspected of funding terror.
Arnaout and the Benevolence International Foundation in Palos Hills are charged with perjury. They have been accused of lying under oath about their alleged support for bin Laden and terrorism. They have denied any ties with terrorists.
El-Hage, a Lebanese-born U.S. citizen, is serving a life sentence for conspiracy in the embassy blasts in Kenya and Tanzania.
Before his arrest in 1998, he was a key bin Laden aide, including during their days together in the Sudan in the 1990s, where El-Hage was a frontman who created fictitious companies to hide bin Laden's terrorist activities, the U.S. says.
Later, El-Hage ran Al Qaeda's operations in Nairobi, according to the U.S. He also ran a charity there called Help Africa People, which served as a front for the terrorist cell involved in the Kenya bombing, prosecutors said in his bombing trial last year in New York.
Without providing details, the FBI first alleged five weeks ago that El-Hage had been in contact with Global Relief in Bridgeview and Belgium. Global Relief said at the time, both in court filings and through its lawyer, Roger Simmons, that it was unaware of any such contacts.
Last week, in response to questions from the Tribune, Simmons said El-Hage had phoned Sayadi from Kenya in 1996 or 1997 to discuss a mosquito-abatement program in Africa. He said El-Hage was seeking money from Global Relief to spread gasoline on a lake to kill mosquitoes and stop the spread of malaria.
The project never got off the ground because Global Relief was "trying to feed people and give medical care," Simmons said. "They weren't out to eliminate malaria."
El-Hage and Sayadi first met in Pakistan around 1991, Simmons said.
Contact called `innocent'
Simmons emphasized the contacts between El-Hage and Sayadi were infrequent, "absolutely innocent" and had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. He said no one from Global Relief had any idea El-Hage was working for bin Laden.
But there are other alleged connections between Al Qaeda and Sayadi, a Lebanese-born citizen of Belgium who set up Global Relief's Brussels office in 1995 to carry out relief work in Bosnia and neighboring countries. The charity is registered in Belgium as Fondation Secours Mondial.
On April 23 authorities in Spain arrested and charged a Syrian-born businessman they alleged was a key Al Qaeda financier. The Spanish said the financier--Mohammed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi--had ties to the cell in Germany that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.
Zouaydi is believed to have funneled money to Al Qaeda operations around the world, and Spanish authorities detailed transfers totaling about $600,000.
Among the transfers under scrutiny is about $211,000 from Zouaydi to Sayadi in Belgium. Authorities are still trying to determine what happened to the cash. Simmons acknowledged that Global Relief received funds from Zouaydi but said they were donations used for legitimate charitable causes.
Sayadi and Zouaydi have been friends for years after meeting in Saudi Arabia, Simmons said.
"Their relationship is very good and close," Simmons said, adding that Zouaydi and Sayadi once worked together at a refugee camp in Kosovo.
Simmons said Sayadi viewed the alleged Al Qaeda financier as a "kind and calm person who likes to help others." He said Zouaydi never discussed Al Qaeda with the Global Relief official.
More money, connections
Zouaydi also allegedly sent money to Mamoun Darkazanli, a key figure in the worldwide investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Darkazanli, a Syrian-born businessman, was among the first to have his assets targeted by the U.S. government after the attacks. The operator of an import-export business in Hamburg, Germany, he is suspected of being a key figure in Al Qaeda's European network. Darkazanli has admitted knowing several suspects in the attacks--including Mohamed Atta, believed to be the ringleader of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Sayadi also knows Darkazanli, according to Simmons, who said the pair did relief work together. Darkazanli has denied being an Al Qaeda operative.
The Belgian government has not taken any action against Global Relief. Simmons said a regularly scheduled audit by government officials is under way.
Founded in 1992, Global Relief is the second-largest Islamic charity in the U.S. with a donor base of more than 20,000 people and $5.3 million in contributions in 2000, according to immigration court transcripts released in April by the government.
Rabih Haddad, a co-founder of the charity, has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago after being seized by immigration agents at his home in Chicago on Dec. 14.
Federal prosecutors have charged that Haddad held meetings outside the U.S. more than a decade ago with members of terror groups linked to Al Qaeda. One of Haddad's attorneys labeled the accusation "unsubstantiated innuendo."
Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune
Is this a "goldenchain" link?
There is one little known detail. After WWII, some leading Bosnian Muslim Nazis from Waffen SS division Hanjar escaped to Saudi Arabia but became nuisance when Saudis aspired to prominent role in Non-Alignment movement in the 1960s. Bosnian Nazis were expelled and fled to Syria.
Fast forward 30 years. Izetbegovic, former recruiter for Waffen SS becomes president of Muslim Bosnia. He connects with his radical buddy in Sudan, Alfatih Hassanein, who opens bogus charity TWRA to launder money for Al Qaeda.
It is safe to assume that Izetbegovic activated his old buddy Nazi network in Syria, perhaps recruiting their children. Profiling-resistant children of old Nazis.
Syrian name Arnaout sounds to me as French spelling of Arnavut, Turkish name for "Albanian".
I believe this is fairly accurate 'big picture' of what happened. "White" AQ at work.
Syria is a popular hiding place for the Nazis too because of the Baath Party there. That is how Nazis like Alois Brunner managed to escape to Syria. Many Nazis who went to Argentina and South America also spen time in Syria, like Adolf Eichmann, Franz Stangl and Walter Rauff. ODESSA operated in Syria and Egypt. I have read that Iran was popular with fleeing Nazis. Iraq also likely gave shelter to Nazis too, most likely French collaborators and SS officers.
Not surprising. I know Francois Genoud, a Nazis financier, funded many Muslim terrorists. Ahmed Huber, a prominent Neo-Nazis, called for alliance with Muslims because of anti-Semitism.
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