The mother of Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, has represented a Saudi-funded Muslim charity accused of terrorism financing and ties to al-Qaida.
Huma is the wife of former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Huma’s mother is Saleha Mahmood Abedin, an associate professor of sociology at Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She formerly directed the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs in the UK.
Abedin has reportedly represented the Muslim World League, or MWL, a Saudi-financed charity that has spawned multiple Islamic groups accused of terror ties. One of those groups was declared by the U.S. government as an official al-Qaida front.
Saleha Abedin has been quoted in numerous press accounts as both representing the MWL and serving as a delegate for the charity.
In 1995, for example, the Washington Times reported on a UN-arranged woman’s conference in Beijing in September of that year that called on governments throughout the world to give women statistical equality with men in the workplace.
The report quoted Abedin, who attended the conference as a delegate, as “also representing the Muslim World League based in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim NGO Caucus.”
The UN’s own website references a report in the run up to the Beijing conference also listing Abedin as representing the MWL at the event.
The website posted an article from the now defunct United States Information Agency quoting Abedin and reporting she attended the Bejing conference as “a delegate of the Muslim World League and member of the Muslim Women’s NGO caucus.”
In the article, Abedin was listed under a shorter name, “Dr. Saleha Mahmoud, director of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs.”
WND has confirmed the individual listed is the same Abedin that is Huma Abedin’s mother. The reports misspelled part of Abedin’s name, whose full professional name is at times listed as Saleha Mahmood Abedin S.
The MWL, meanwhile, was founded in Mecca in 1962 and bills itself as one of the largest Islamic non-governmental organizations.
In actuality, it is heavily financed by the Saudi government, according to U.S. government documents and testimony from the charity’s own officials.
The MWL has been accused of terror ties, as have its various offshoots, including the International Islamic Relief Organization, or IIRO, and Al Haramain, which was declared by the U.S. and UN a terror financing front.
Indeed, the Treasury Department, in a September 2004 press release, alleged Al Haramain had “direct links” with Osama bin Laden. It is now banned worldwide by United Nations Security Council Committee 1267.
There have long been reports citing accusations the IIRO and MWL also repeatedly funded al-Qaeda.
In 1993, Osama bin Laden reportedly told an associate that the MWL was one of his three most important charity fronts.
An ADL profile of the MWL accuses the group of promulgating a “fundamentalist interpretation of Islam around the world through a large network of charities and affiliated organizations.”
“Its ideological backbone is based on an extremist interpretation of Islam and several of its affiliated groups and individuals have been linked to terror-related activity.”
In 2003, US News and World Report documented that accompanying WML’s donations, invariably, are “a blizzard of Wahhabist literature.”
“Critics argue that Wahhabism’s more extreme preachings—mistrust of infidels, branding of rival sects as apostates, and emphasis on violent jihad—laid the groundwork for terrorist groups around the world,” the report continued.
An Egyptian-American cab driver, Ihab Mohamed Ali Nawawi, was arrested in Florida in 1990 on accusations he was an al-Qaeda sleeper agent and a former personal pilot to bin Laden. At the same time he was accused of serving bin Laden, he also reportedly worked for the Pakistani branch of the MWL.
The MWL in 1988 founded the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, developing chapters in about 50 countries, including for a time in Oregon until it was designated a terror organization.
In the early 1990s, evidence began to grow that it was funding Islamist militants in Somalia and Bosnia, and a 1996 CIA report detailed its Bosnian militant ties.
The U.S. Treasury designated Al Haramain’s offices in Kenya and Tanzania as sponsors of terrorism for their role in planning and funding the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa. The Comoros Islands office was also designated because it “was used as a staging area and exfiltration route for the perpetrators of the 1998 bombings.”
The New York Times reported in 2003 that Al Haramain had provided funds to the Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which was responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. The Indonesia office was later designated a terrorist entity by the Treasury.
In February 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department froze all Al Haramain’s financial assets pending an investigation, leading the Saudi government to disband the charity and fold it into another group, the Saudi National Commission for Relief and Charity Work Abroad.
In September 2004, the U.S. designated Al-Haramain a terrorist organization.
In June 2008, the Treasury Department applied the terrorist designation to the entire Al-Haramain organization worldwide.
Bin Laden’s brother-in-law
In August 2006, the Treasury Department also designated the Philippine and Indonesian branch offices of the MWL-founded IIRO as terrorist entities “for facilitating fundraising for al Qaida and affiliated terrorist groups.”
The Treasury Department added: “Abd Al Hamid Sulaiman Al-Mujil, a high-ranking IIRO official [Executive Director of its Eastern Province Branch] in Saudi Arabia, has used his position to bankroll the al Qaida network in Southeast Asia. Al-Mujil has a long record of supporting Islamic militant groups, and he has maintained a cell of regular financial donors in the Middle East who support extremist causes.”
In the 1980s, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, ran the Philippines offices of the IRRO. Khalifa has been linked to Manila-based plots to target the Pope and US airlines
The IRRO has also been accused of funding Hamas, Algerian radicals, Afganistan militant bases, and an Egyptian terror group called Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya.
The New York Post reported the families of the 9/11 victims filed a lawsuit against IIRO and other Muslim organizations for having “played key roles in laundering of funds to the terrorists in the 1998 African embassy bombings,” and for having been involved in the “financing and ‘aiding and abetting’ of terrorists in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.”
‘Saudi government front’
In a court case in Canada, Arafat El-Asahi, the Canadian director of both the IIRO and the MWL, admitted the charities are near entities of the Saudi government.
Stated El-Asahi: “The Muslim World League, which is the mother of IIRO, is a fully government funded organization. In other words, I work for the Government of Saudi Arabia. I am an employee of that government.
“Second, the IIRO is the relief branch of that organization which means that we are controlled in all our activities and plans by the Government of Saudi Arabia. Keep that in mind, please,” he said.
Despite its offshoots being implicated in terror financing, the U.S. government never designated the MWL itself as a terror-financing charity. Many have speculated the U.S. has been trying to not embarrass the Saudi government.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott