UN takes charity founder off Al-Qaeda list

Updated 13 February 2013
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UN takes charity founder off Al-Qaeda list

GRANTS PASS, Oregon: A Saudi Arabian government official who started an Islamic charity in the state of Oregon has been taken off a United Nations list of people subject to sanctions for ties to Al-Qaeda but remains on a similar US list.
The UN Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Al-Qaeda removed Soliman Al-Buthe, who now is a consultant to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Municipalities, from the list Monday.
Al-Buthe still faces arrest if he returns to the United States. A federal indictment alleges he smuggled $150,000 in cash collected by Al Haramain Islamic Foundation in Ashland to Saudi Arabia in 2000 to help terrorists in Chechnya. His co-defendant, Iranian-American tree surgeon Pete Seda, is serving 33 months in prison after being convicted of conspiracy and tax fraud.
Al-Buthe’s attorney Tom Nelson said the UN action is some vindication for his client, but Al-Buthe is still trying to get off the US terrorism list.
“It all goes back to the days immediately after 9/11, when the government embarked on a crusade to find terrorists under every bed,” Nelson said. “A lot of innocent people got sucked in and harmed very significantly as a result. More and more of those cases are coming out all the time.”
Al-Buthe said in a statement that all he ever wanted was a fair chance to clear his name.
“While the Americans still refuse to disclose reasons behind their actions, the United Nations now prohibits unfair practices. It was this change that allowed me to clear my name.”
He and Al Haramain remain on the Treasury Department’s Al-Qaeda sanctions list. The foundation disbanded after the department froze its assets in 2004 for allegedly aiding terrorists in Chechnya and Albania. A federal appeals court upheld the listing, but not the assets freeze.
Nelson said Treasury has not responded to his application to be taken off the list since he filed it two years ago.
Treasury spokesman John Sullivan said people are taken off the list, but he did immediately respond to questions about whether Al-Buthe’s request to be removed had been received or why Nelson has received no response.
The reasons Al-Buthe was taken off the UN list were not given by the committee, which said in a statement only that it considered a request submitted through the committee’s ombudsperson, and the ombudsperson’s comprehensive report.
Kimberly Prost, ombudsperson for the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, said Al-Buthe was the 21st applicant to be taken off the list, made up of more than 350 people and organizations. Two others whose cases have been reviewed were not. She said her report was confidential and she could not disclose its contents.


Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.