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US blacklists South African Indian aid organisation

The al-Aqsa Foundation of South Africa, an aid organisation run mainly by people of Indian origin in the country, has been put on a US blacklist for its alleged links to the Islamist militant group Hamas.

Updated: Jun 29, 2010, 23:30 PM IST

Johannesburg: The al-Aqsa Foundation of South Africa, an aid organisation run mainly by people of Indian origin in the country, has been put on a US blacklist for its alleged links to the Islamist militant group Hamas.

The South African Foundation, which arranges relief
aid for orphans and children in Palestine, has been put on a
US blacklist along with controversial Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe.
The Foundation, run mainly by South African Indians,
is believed by the US Treasury to be a "critical part of the
Hamas terrorist support infrastructure" because it sends money
to the Islamist organisation in the guise of charitable
contributions, The Times newspaper said today.

The US Treasury website states that "several
officials" from the charity "are active supporters of al-Qaeda
and (Lebanon-based group) Asbat al-Ansar."

The US Treasury`s Office of Foreign Assets Control
maintains a list titled Special Designated Nationals,
enforcing economic sanctions against the people on the list.

The name of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is
ruling his country in an uneasy alliance with Morgan
Tsvangirai Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as well as
those of his wife Grace and nephew Leo also feature on the
latest list update of people that the US believes have funded
terrorist organisations.
Although there was no clarity on the reasons for their
inclusion, Mugabe recently played host to Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who has been involved in a disput with
Washington over his country`s nuclear programme.

The South African Department of International
Relations and Co-operation said it was unaware of any
blacklisting of South Africans by the US.

"Unless the country formally approaches us, there is
not much we can do," Ayanda Ntsaluba, the director-general of
the Department, told the daily.

The Foundation would not comment on the latest
blacklist, but is registered with the South African Department
for Social Development as a charity organisation which has
provided support to more than 300 Palestinian charities.

Two South African Indian cousins, Junaid Dockrat and
Farhad Dockrat, were previously also blacklisted by the US
after they provided funds to al-Alqsa Foundation.

There were also US allegations that Junaid Dockrat had
helped facilitate travel of South Africans to Pakistan for
al-Qaeda training, resulting in his hunting gear company,
Sniper Africa, being blacklisted.

PTI