JEDDAH, 14 October — Saudi businessman Yassin Abdullah Al-Qadi, who was
listed by the FBI among the individuals allegedly linked to the Al-Qaeda
organization, said the inclusion of his name in the list without any evidence
was tantamount to human rights violation.
“I don’t have any connection, be it close or distant, with Al-Qaeda or its
leader Bin Laden, either directly or indirectly,” Al-Qadi told Asharq Al-Awsat,
sister publication of Arab News, in an exclusive interview.
“I was shocked when my lawyers in Britain informed me that my name was in the
list of people and groups targeted in asset freeze,” he said. “I was amazed that
my name was included without any reason or evidence. What compounded the issue
was that they did not deem it necessary to ask for any explanation. I don’t have
anything to hide,” he added.
Al-Qadi reiterated his condemnation of terrorism. “Our religion Islam does
not accept the killing of innocent people, whatever may be their nationality or
religion,” he said talking to the daily from his office at Al-Farsi Tower in
The FBI distributed the new list of 39 individuals and groups on Thursday,
seeking a freeze of their assets. However, Al-Qadi confirmed that his assets in
the United States and the Kingdom had not been frozen. “They have not informed
me about their plans to freeze my assets,” he added.
According to the US Treasury Department, Al-Qadi’s name was put on the list
for running a charity named Mowafek Charitable Foundation which it said had
allegedly funneled millions to Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept.
11 terror attacks in the United States.
Meanwhile, informed sources in Washington said the US Department of State had
strongly objected to the publishing of the list, fearing that it would
negatively impact on US efforts to build an international coalition against
Al-Qadi said he believed that his name was included because of his position
as a founding member of the foundation, which was closed down six years ago.
“This organization has carried out a number of charitable activities in Bosnia,
especially educational and humanitarian projects,” he said.
“The foundation was closed six years ago. But they think that it is still
continuing its activities. All records related to the organization are available
and I welcome any questions with regard to its activities. This they should have
done before pointing an accusing finger at me,” he added.
Al-Qadi described the move by the US authorities to incriminate innocent
people and groups “as an attack” on all Islamic organizations including the
International Islamic Relief Organization and the Muslim World League.
“I would like to tell the American authorities that they have to distinguish
between their enemies and friends. They should not make new enemies. Most
Muslims, especially Saudis, are not enemies of Americans. We have very good
relations with them,” he said. He called the American policy of leveling
accusations against innocent people as “a gross mistake.” By such actions, he
said, America would lose its friends in the Middle East.
Al-Qadi said he had not received any official notice from the US or British
authorities. “They have not asked me anything not asked me to attend any
investigation. They should have probed my activities thoroughly before including
my name in the list. This is nothing but arrogance on the part of the US
authorities and a gross violation of human rights. An accused is presumed to be
innocent until he is proved guilty,” he explained.
Asked whether his assets would be frozen, he said: “The list was published on
Thursday and I am not in a position to make any judgment. Maybe this is a media
stunt. My financial dealings and transfers to the US and Europe over the past
two days were carried out as usual.”
Asked what would be his position if his assets inside and outside Saudi
Arabia were frozen, he said: “I am a strong believer in God and I believe that
we will get only what God has destined for us.”
However, he said he would take all measures to defend himself and clear his
name. “I will seek justice and produce evidence. Nobody should be punished for
the mistake of others. I am also prepared to take whatever action is necessary
to clear name.
Al-Qadi described the allegations against him as mere fabrication.
“Unfortunately, they have started accusing people randomly without any reason,”
Referring to the Mowafek Foundation, he said it was an organization
registered in Britain to assist Bosnian Muslims. Six Saudi businessmen were its
Asked why they included only his name, he said: “I don’t know. Maybe they
will include the other names too. I think that my name was listed because I was
the contact person and top official of the organization.”
Mowafek Foundation was earlier linked to a plot to kill an Arab leader during
the latter’s visit to an African country. “Six years ago, a British newspaper
published a report saying that an employee of the foundation was a suspect in
the assassination attempt. We filed a lawsuit against the paper and won the
legal battle. The foundation’s name was cleared and the paper issued a public
apology. With the court finding for us, the paper was ordered to pay costs and
He said he was a member of several charitable organizations including the
International Qur’an Society of the Muslim World League. He is also the
secretary-general of the Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah.
“Even before the Sept. 11 attacks it was not possible to donate millions of
riyals to charities abroad except through banks,” he said, adding that Mowafek
had always sent its funds to Bosnia through legal channels.
Al-Qadi’s activities are now centered on Dar Al-Hekma. He is also a partner
in the group running the Al-Andalus Schools and Ala Productions. “I was also
associated with the National Commercial Bank to develop a number of Islamic
banking programs like investment portfolios. I also own companies in various
sectors,” he added.
Al-Qadi has worked for Skidmore, an American consulting firm in Chicago, for
three years. “I have also met with US Vice President and former Secretary of
Defense Dick Cheney in Jeddah when he came for a lecture organized by the Dallah
Group. “I spoke to him for a long time and we still have cordial relations.”