JEDDAH: Courts in the United States looking at accusations that the International Islamic Relief Organization-Saudi Arabia (IIROSA) supports terrorism have no evidence, said the organization’s Secretary-General Adnan Khalil Basha.
In a statement to Arab News, Basha said he expects the final verdict of the case would absolve the organization of the charges. He called on the new US administration to adopt an “objective stance” toward the case.
“I hope that the American judiciary would understand the work of IIROSA and that it has nothing to do with terrorism. The organization is against terrorism and is fighting it through its relief and welfare activities,” he said.
Basha said he was confident that IIROSA would be acquitted as all accusations leveled against Arab and Islamic charities have in the past been proven to be baseless.
Basha added that an American lawyer was following up the case in the US and was keeping them informed of any new developments.
He said all accusations against IIROSA in America were based on secret evidence, which was not disclosed to IIROSA. “This is a peculiar system that is in practice only in America. In the American judicial system, defendants are asked to prove their innocence while the plaintiff is not asked to prove his claim,” he said. Basha added that IIROSA has not, since the start of the case eight years ago, been confronted with a single piece of evidence proving it has been involved in supporting terrorism.
Since 9/11, the US and some Western countries have looked at Muslim charities with suspicion — something that has adversely affected the work these organizations do to help the poor globally.
“We ask the new US administration, which has a rational and realistic policy toward many issues, to be objective concerning the IIROSA case that is being considered by the American judiciary,” he said.
“We are a welfare organization and focus our activities on providing assistance to people anywhere during calamities,” he said, adding that IIROSA had offered to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina and had written to the American Consulate in Jeddah about the offer but did not get any response. He said he had sent a letter of congratulation to US President Barack Obama and explained to him that terrorism thrived in Muslim countries because of poverty, ignorance, diseases and other social ills. “Welfare organizations are fighting terrorism through efforts to alleviate the effects of illiteracy, poverty and diseases,” he said.
Basha asked all those concerned with international development not to create hurdles for welfare organizations and instead help them carry out their work because they “are providing assistance to people in difficult times.”
He admitted that IIROSA was still facing problems in transferring money to fund its projects around the world. “Officials in many parts of the world do not want to deal with us out of fear that they might be implicated,” he said.
He added that despite these bottlenecks IIROSA was carrying on its humanitarian activities and was being asked by many countries to open offices. The secretary-general also said that IIROSA would soon host the second conference for the reconstruction of Palestine, in which 40 to 50 welfare organizations are expected to attend. “The conference will coordinate efforts in welfare and development activities in Gaza and the West Bank,” he said.