Al-Qaeda Sends SOS To Kashmiris
13 October 2003
The Times of India
New Delhi: Pledging to support the 'Kashmiri struggle', a cash-strapped al-Qaeda is approaching rich expatriate Kashmiris and Muslims in general who sympathise with the people of the valley. Though al-Qaeda remains a formidable foe its cash flow has been reduced by two thirds as authorities world over have frozen some 1,440 accounts with $136.7 million in alleged terrorist fundings, including $36.6 million in the US. 'al-Qaeda is looking for new areas for its funding and with the group expanding its presence in Kashmir, the terror outfit is approaching Kashmiris and Muslims who oppose Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir, intelligence officials said. According to intelligence reports shared with US intelligence agencies, Kashmir is witnessing a dangerous global investment in militancy which is giving a fillip to cross-border infiltration. The total amount that comes in from international charities and support groups annually is estimated to be around four to five billion rupees. Including India, 80 countries have created intelligence units to share information on terrorist financing. In US, according to reprots, three charities - the Global Relief Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation, and Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development - were shuttered for alleged sponsorship of al-Qaeda. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has banned a 1,700-year-old religious practice of making cash collections in mosques and retail establishments. And it has been targetting some businessmen, now known as the 'Jeddah merchants', who have allegedly provided large amounts of cash to al-Qaeda. It has also clamped down on its informal money-transfer system, hawalas. Other countries in the region - including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, and Qatar - have also enacted regulations on these money transfers. According to intelligence reports though money flow from Saudi Arabia has been plugged to a a great extent, there is still a great deal of support from other countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Gulf countries, European countries.