Court Upholds Islamic American Relief Agency Asset Freeze

On Feb.13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a lower court decision that allowed the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to freeze the assets of the Missouri-based Islamic American Relief Agency. The court said the asset seizure was lawful because the court found the organization is an affiliate of a Sudanese group that was designated as a terrorist organization in 2004, making this the first case to allow such designation based solely on an alleged branch relationship. There was no finding that the U.S. group used funds to support terrorist activities, and no criminal charges have been filed.

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Court Says Parts of Executive Order Used to Shut Down Charities are Unconstitutional

A Nov. 27 decision by a federal district court in Los Angeles found that two portions of Executive Order 13224 (EO), used to designate organizations as supporters of terrorism, are unconstitutional. The case was filed by the Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) and other nonprofits that want to provide support for "lawful, nonviolent activities" of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Tamil Tigers (LTTE), which have both been designated as terrorist organizations.

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ACLU Seeks Congressional Hearings on Monitoring of Antiwar Groups

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently released more documents highlighting government surveillance of antiwar organizations. As information on the scope of the Pentagon's Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) database continues to accumulate, the ACLU has requested a congressional investigation into this use of counterterrorism resources for surveillance of nonviolent domestic organizations.

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Nonprofits Call for Release of Frozen Funds for Humanitarian Efforts

In a letter sent Nov. 6, a group of charities and nonprofit sector leaders asked the Treasury Department to release frozen funds belonging to charities designated as supporters of terrorism "to trustworthy aid agencies that can ensure the funds are used for their intended charitable purposes." According to the letter, the request "takes no position on whether these designations were appropriate. Instead, [the authors'] concern is with ensuring that charitable funds are put to good use."

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Authority and Process of Office of Foreign Assets Control to Release Frozen Charitable Funds

This memorandum describes federal laws and regulations governing Treasury Department treatment of funds of organizations designated as supporters of terrorism, including procedures that allow Treasury to authorize release of funds for charitable purposes.

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Databases Monitor Activity of Peace Activists, Public Opinion

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has revealed more evidence of Pentagon spying on nonprofits that oppose the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, new Homeland Security Department programs that will monitor public opinion, emails and blogs raise further concerns about the free speech rights of nonprofits and the civil liberties of Americans.

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Side-by-Side Comparison of 2005 and 2006 Treasury Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines

On Sept. 29, 2006 the U.S. Department of the Treasury released the third version since 2002 of its Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-Based Charities. The new Guidelines come after Treasury requested public comments on the Dec. 2005 revision of the original Guidelines.

See our comparison chart in pdf format.

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Treasury Releases Third Version of Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines

On Sept. 29, 2006 the U.S. Department of the Treasury released the third version since 2002 of its Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-Based Charities. The new Guidelines come after Treasury requested public comments on the Dec. 2005 revision of the original Guidelines. In an annex to the latest version, Treasury provides an unconvincing explanation of its perception that abuse of charities by terrorists is a substantial problem. Treasury also uses the latest version to place greater emphasis on the voluntary nature of the guidelines. However, the fundamental problems that lead the nonprofit sector to call for withdrawal of the Guidelines remain unchanged.

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Analysis: 2006 Treasury Dept. Voluntary Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines

On Sept. 29, 2006 the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released updated Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-Based Charities, its third version of recommendations for charities since 2002. The new Guidelines reflect Treasury consideration of public comments on a December 2005 revision of the original Guidelines, published in 2002. A new Annex provides an unconvincing explanation of Treasury's perception that terrorist abuse of charities is a substantial problem. The 2006 Guidelines place greater emphasis on their voluntary nature, saying charities should apply them to a degree commensurate with their risk of "abuse and exploitation" by terrorists. However, the fundamental problems that lead the nonprofit sector to call for withdrawal of the Guidelines remain unchanged.

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Terrorism Task Force Raids Muslim Charity, Making Ramadan Giving Problematic

On Sept.18, federal agents raided the office of a Michigan-based Muslim charity. Agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) seized files, cabinets, computers, and copied documents from the headquarters of Life for Relief and Development, a humanitarian relief organization. The group, founded in 1992, has been active in sending aid to Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Dubai, Syria, Sierra Leone, and Israel and is one of the largest American Muslim aid groups. Organization officials are cooperating with the investigation, which federal agents claim is not related to terrorism, but to tax issues, despite the raid being coordinated by a terrorism task force.

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