US: Former Islamic charity gets off terror list

A former Islamic charity in Oregon sued Monday to get itself removed from the US government's list of groups suspected of supporting terrorism. The government has not given the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation "any formal statement of reasons," nor specified the conduct for which the group's operations were effectively shut down, said the group's lawsuit filed in US District Court. In February 2004, the Treasury Department ordered banks to freeze assets and property of the group, saying it was a branch of a large Saudi charity accused of funneling money to al Qaida. In September 2004, the Treasury Department formally designated the group as suspected of supporting terrorism, saying a federal investigation "shows direct links between the US branch and Osama bin Laden." At the time, the department said humanitarian contributions were diverted to Chechen rebel leaders affiliated with al-Qaida. The Al-Haramain lawsuit said the group had shown that its participation in a Chechnya project "was undertaken exclusively for humanitarian purposes, and had nothing to do with terrorist or violent activities."