ABU DHABI Ñ Saudi Arabia is not enforcing a
new law intended to regulate charities to block the transfer of funds to terrorist organizations such as Al Qaida.
Saudi sources said a government directive against the collection of
charity in public has been widely ignored. They said the directive, enacted
on July 14 by the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, was meant to end
solicitation by charity groups in stores and on the streets.
The Jedda-based Arab News reported that most people were unaware of the
new ban. The newspaper found charity boxes in dozens of shops in violation
of the law.
The ministry has also pledged to enforce the law and monitor major Saudi
cities for any signs of public charity collection, Middle East Newsline reported. But the Arab News quoted
store owners as saying that they did not see any inspectors.
The ministry was said to have warned that it will penalize any
organization that tries to raise money in public. This includes the placing
of charity boxes in public locations.
The kingdom enacted the directive amid U.S. pressure to
regulate funds to charities that might funnel money to Al Qaida or other
Islamic insurgency groups. The assets of a range of Saudi charities have
been frozen by the United States on grounds that they have funneled money to
On Monday, a U.S. government team was expected to arrive in Riyad for
talks with Saudi security and intelligence officials regarding a crackdown
on financing for Al Qaida. The U.S. team was said to have been composed by
officials from the FBI and Treasury Department.
The Saudi-owned Al Hayat daily reported on Monday that the kingdom has
relayed what it termed was important information on Al Qaida. The
London-based newspaper did not elaborate, but said Saudi Arabia has served
as an intermediary in U.S. contacts with Iran.
Saudi newspapers said the International Islamic Relief Organization
appears to be violating the new law. The organization is one of the
leading charities in Saudi Arabia and supported by senior members of the
Adnan Basha, secretary-general of the IIRO, told the Okaz daily that the
organization is not responsible for the charity boxes.