Britain freezes Muslim charity 

Correspondents in London

August 26, 2006

A CHARITY at the centre of concerns over the funding of the alleged terrorist plot to attack trans-Atlantic aircraft has had its assets frozen.

The Charity Commission is investigating the activities of Crescent Relief, which raised large sums from British Muslims for the humanitarian operation after the earthquake in Kashmir last October.

The inquiry follows the revelation that one of the men arrested at High Wycombe, a town near London, in connection with the alleged plot was a fundraiser for the charity.

It has also emerged that a co-founder of the charity was Abdul Rauf, from Birmingham, whose son Rashid is in custody in Pakistan, where the authorities claim that he is a "key figure" in the conspiracy.

Another of Mr Rauf's sons, Tayib, 22, was arrested before being released without charge.

The action against the charity came as British authorities charged a 12th person over the alleged plot to blow up US-bound passenger jets and amid indications that Britons are feeling increasingly threatened by Islam.

Umair Hussain, 24, was one of 25 people arrested since police staged pre-dawn raids on August 10 in connection with the plot. Five have since been released without charge.

Police have been granted warrants by a court to question the remaining eight until next Wednesday. Under British anti-terror laws, suspects can be detained for up to 28 days without charge, subject to regular court approval.

Hussain was charged under anti-terror legislation for failing to disclose information about his brother, Nabeel Hussain, who is believed to be one of the eight still in custody.

As the Government launched an attempt to tackle inter-faith tensions, a survey published in The Daily Telegraph found 53per cent of respondents were concerned about the impact ofIslam - not just fundamentalist elements - up 21 per cent from 2001.

There had also been a near doubling of the number agreeing that "a large proportion of British Muslims feel no sense of loyalty to this country and are prepared to condone or even carry out acts of terrorism".

Addressing the freeze on the Crescent Relief's accounts, Kenneth Dibble, the director of legal and charity services at the commission, said: "We are working with law enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of allegations of possible terrorist abuse of Crescent Relief funds.

"The allegations made are very serious, and we are taking this action to protect the charity's funds while the investigation is under way.

"At this early stage in such a complex and sensitive investigation, it is difficult to say how long our inquiry may take."

As a temporary measure, the commission said it had frozen the bank accounts of the charity. Funds now cannot be used by the charity without the commission's consent.

Umair Hussain was due to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates Court overnight.

Hussain "had information which he knew or believed might be of material assistance in preventing the commission of another person, namely Nabeel Hussain, of an act of terrorism and failed to disclose it as soon as reasonably practicable", a police spokesman said.

Of the 11 others facing charges, eight are facing the most serious ones of conspiracy to murder and preparing acts of terrorism, and were told to return to court on September4 to appear before the Old Bailey criminal court in central London - the traditional venue for Britain's biggest criminal trials. The three others are to return to the magistrates court on Tuesday.

Times, AFP, PA

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