Saudis' top cleric warns against giving money to al-Qaida linked charities

Saudi Arabia's top religious authority warned Saudis against giving money to charities and organizations financing "evil" groups, a top local daily reported Sunday. The warning by Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul-Aziz Abdullah al-Sheikh comes just days after police found an audio message from al-Qaida No.2 Ayman al-Zawahri exhorting his followers to collect money for needy families in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "It is bad to give funds to just anyone who asks and to parties with shabby reputations or unknown backing," the mufti said in a statement carried by the daily al-Okaz, which is deemed close to the government. "It's even worse to give it to an organization that's known for its evil and for hurting Islam and its followers," he added in an apparent reference to al-Qaida, which has carried out attacks on foreigners in Saudi Arabia.