Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Government Investigation of Islamic Charities Called Into Question

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, through its Government and Politics Watchdog portal, includes a discussion of an article that recently appears in The New YorkerThe New Yorker article examines how the federal government investigated the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, located in Ashland, Oregon.  The New Yorker article is critical of the government's reliance on classified information and what the reporter, Patrick Radden Keefe, calls "'Al Capone-ing" type practices, meaning charging the charity on whatever will secure a conviction."  See the excerpt below for more of the story:

In an article in The New Yorker, the journalist Patrick Radden Keefe examines the case against the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, in Ashland, Ore. The group had its assets frozen in 2004 for alleged ties to Al Qaeda, which the charitable organization denies.

Mr. Keefe looks at how the government has relied on classified intelligence information to build a case against the charity and its practice of “‘Al Capone-ing’ suspects — charging them on whatever will secure a conviction.”

The Chronicle article includes references to commentary given during committee hearings of the Senate Finance Committee this month.  See below:

During a Senate Finance Committee hearing this month, Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana who chairs the committee, also raised concerns about how the U.S. Treasury Department is investigating charities.

“We have also seen prosecutions failing in some high-profile trials involving charities suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations. What happened here? Were these prosecutions off base? Does the administration need to do a better job of monitoring these organizations?” he asked in his opening statement.

OMB Watch, a government watchdog group in Washington that has criticized the government crackdown on nonprofit organizations, says the hearing left questions “unasked and unanswered.” The advocacy group says aides to Mr. Baucus have agreed to meet with nonprofit representatives to discuss their concerns.

See the Chronicle and the New Yorker for the full story.  Also, please see earlier blogs on the Nonprofit Law Prof Blog for earlier stories about Islamic Charities and the Government Crackdown in the wake of  9/11.


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