TERRORISM: U.S. ISLAMIC CHARITY FIGHTS BACK AGAINST ACCUSATIONS

Karachi, 16 Feb. (AKI) – (by Syed Saleem Shahzad) – The director of a US-based Islamic charity, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc., Soliman al-Buthi, has for the first time spoken publicly from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia denouncing the book “My Year Inside Radical Islam”, written by ex-Al-Haramain employee, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, as a “pack of lies”. In a statement to Adnkronos International (AKI), al-Buthi, once on the FBI’s al-Qaeda suspect list, explained that he spoke to other directors to verify the book’s allegations against al-Haramain’s branch in Ashland, Oregon.

In the statement to AKI, al-Buthi said that he and ther other directors of the charity said that they “all concur that this book is full of falsehoods.”

The Saudi al-Haramain charity, linked to the Islamic Affairs Ministry, was for years a leading proponent of the fundamentalist Wahhabi brand of Islam. Most of its worldwide operations have now been wound up.

Reports say that Al-Haramain’s Ashland chapter was closed after al-Buthi and chapter founder Pete Seda were indicted on federal tax charges in 2005.

Gartenstein-Ross, who is reportedly Jewish but converted to Islam before he became a practicing Christian, has said that he wrote the book to try to demonstrate how someone can accept a radical interpretation of Islam. He reportedly said that his book is based on public records based on the federal indictments against the two al-Buthis, Seda and the Ashland chapter of the charity.

Interesting piece from the Italian news agency AKI on the Al-Haramain Foundation’s defense against allegations made against it both by governments and a new book. This press release from the US Dept. of the Treasury states the USG’s case. And this 2002 release from the US State Dept. talks about the joint US-Saudi designation of Al-Haramain branches in Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and the Netherlands; in Bosnia, Somalia, Indonesia, Tanzania, Kenya, Pakistan and the United States.


February:16:2007 - 10:20 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink
2 Responses to “Al-Haramain’s Side of the Story”
  1. 1
    Soliman Al-Buthe Said:
    February:16:2007 - 12:05 

    February 15, 2007

    Interview with Pete Seda
    The following is a response by former Al Haramain Islamic Foundation Secretary Pete Seda in response to questions by the Tidings about a new book that was recently released recounting a young employee’s time with the foundation in Ashland. “My Year Inside Radical Islam,” by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, was released by the Penguin Group earlier this month.

    Tidings: What was your first reaction when you heard Daveed had written a memoir about his time at Al Haramain?

    Seda: Not too surprised, I had liked his writings when he was with us.

    Tidings: What do you remember specifically about Daveed when he worked for the foundation?

    Seda: Daveed was a national debate champion and a college graduate and worked at our center for about 9 months, first as a volunteer and then as a salaried employee. He was a good worker and he was smart and very capable of making good decisions. He was in charge of our prison and educational outreach program. He helped us develop a questionnaire for prisoners who had requested Islamic literature. The questionnaire was intended to help us improve our services and better determine the recipients’ needs prior to shipping any Islamic materials. I loved and still love his wonderful mom and dad. There were many humorous interactions between me and Daveed. I strongly encouraged him to go to law school so he could help the needy and unfortunate with his law degree.

    Tidings: Do you feel like your image has been tarnished in Ashland?

    Seda: I am deeply hurt by this defamation and I believe that I have been betrayed. I know it is hard for the general public to spot the untruthful statements and innuendos but they are blatantly obvious to me. Until now, I have not been able to speak in my defense as it may jeopardize the outcome of my case in regards to my defense against the government’s false accusations against me, which sadly Daveed helped them build. My decades of work, volunteerism, and community activism speak for itself. I do however have strong hopes that the people in the Rogue Valley, whom I lived and worked amongst for over 30 years know my true character and that I sincerely stand for peace, justice, and moderation.

    Unfortunately, at this time, due to circumstances, I am still unable to read much of the book and have only been able to read excerpts, but I hope to read the book in its entirety soon. Of what I have read, from a literary point of view it is a poorly written book. There are a lot of things that were intentionally left out, a lot of things that weren’t said. It is these things that I find very interesting. I know the book is not about me, but if Daveed would have written about how I loved and helped him and his family, how I sent him my “Islam Is€¦” book for him to edit (www.islam-is.com where everyone can read what I believe and stand for), how I helped him get his security clearance for his first job after college, and how much

    I hated the Taliban, terrorism, and the harming of the innocent, it would have taken all the wind out of his sail as he wouldn’t have been able to falsely sensationalize his experiences. Of course, I am human and I know I am not perfect, but I most surely am not a “radical,” “Wahhabi” who is insincere or two-faced.

    Tidings: How do you think the U.S. federal government may have influenced

    Daveed’s book?

    Seda: In his book Daveed admits he has been an FBI informant and has hadclose cooperation with federal officials. I believe that the lies, half-truth’s, innuendos, and exaggerations in his book are coordinated attacks on the organization and the people affiliated with it and were solicited and encouraged by the current administration — an administration that, in my opinion and more importantly my experience, has been doing all it can to incriminate me and most other Muslim activists and Islamic organizations. They have effectively demonized Islam and Muslims. Unfortunately, it has become obvious that many Muslims throughout the world have begun to turn against our government and our foreign policy, simply because of

    the current administration’s foreign policy and its arrogant sword- leaning behavior which has legitimized torture, suspended our constitution through the Patriot Act, engaged in police-state surveillance of all its citizens, set up psychological experimentation camps such as Guantanamo Bay, and waged wars that have killed millions. I believe that shortly Iran will be attacked too.

    I do believe there is continued close cooperation and collaboration between Daveed and the federal government, and both sides have served to benefit. Daveed says he didn’t receive any ‘monetary compensation’ but I believe he has received compensation, perhaps indirectly, by serving as a consultant on “terrorism” matters, possibly for government contractors.

    Some of the facts discussed in his book he had to have received from the government, not only because they are about events and activities that occurred after he stopped working for the charity but because no one else had that information. So it is clear to me, that the federal government has aided Daveed in this smear campaign and the writing of his book.

    Tidings: What is your life like now? How are you? How have things changed since you left the United States?

    Pete left the U.S. but the U.S. never left Pete. My home is there with you. While I was in the US, any chance I could I volunteered information and cooperated with the government; I spoke openly against terrorism, war, unchecked government powers, and our disastrous foreign policy. My mission is to help my people. I was living under constant harassment and fear, and saw no indications that I would receive a fair chance. Once I left, I realized that I had no other option but to let the momentum for destruction run its course and give people the chance to see the problems that unchecked powers will get our country into. After my hajj, if I would have immediately returned it would not have been possible to have a peaceful life, or a life at all.

    Through it all, my eyes have opened up and I have learned a lot of things. I have been through some very hairy situations. I would love to come back and share them all, God willing, someday soon. I am greyer, older, and hopefully wiser. I must admit, I do still have big ambitions and plans.

    © 2007 DailyTidings.com
    Page: http://www.dailytidings.com/2007/0215/stories/0215sedainterview.php

  2. 2
    John Burgess Said:
    February:16:2007 - 12:59 

    Thanks for your comment.

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