- The Washington Times - Monday, December 24, 2001

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Muslim student organizations on college campuses around the country have openly raised money for groups whose assets have been frozen by the U.S. government because of terrorism ties.
While authorities have identified no direct connection between the campus groups and terrorism, some security analysts and officials are calling for closer scrutiny.
The FBI refused to comment on the student organizations. But federal investigators following the money trail are looking at such groups, said George Vinson, California's homeland security adviser and a 23-year FBI veteran.
In light of the September 11 terrorist attacks, he said, "shame on law enforcement if we didn't do this."
He would not give details of what is being done.
Anti-terrorism consultant Larry Johnson, who once directed the State Department counterterrorism office, said he is advising his clients in the federal government to monitor the campus groups' phone calls, bank accounts and fund raising.
One organization that has raised money for groups targeted by the U.S. government is the Muslim Student Association, which has more than 100 campus chapters around the country and raises funds by way of rallies, meetings and Web sites.
The MSA urges donations to such groups as the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, and the Benevolence International and Global Relief foundations.
All three groups have had their assets frozen by the Bush administration because of reported connections to the al Qaeda terrorist network or the militant Hamas.
All three have denied they are terrorist-front organizations, insisting they raise money for food, schools and other social services.
The MSA's Ohio State University chapter produces a Web newsletter called MSA News, which has included press releases from the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, which is on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations that Americans are forbidden to support or finance, and the Islamic Salvation Front, a militant party banned in Algeria.
Altaf Husain, national president of the MSA, said his organization has no plans to stop raising money for various groups unless federal authorities crack down. He called suspicions about terrorist links post-attack "hype," and said it was up to the government to trace the money.
"We are as American as anyone else. Why should we be the ones looking for all these so-called 'sleeper cells' or whatever?" he said.
Mr. Husain said federal investigations after September 11 stem from the belief "that any group raising money for Muslims is funneling money to terrorists."
The president of the Islamic Association for Palestine often gives speeches sponsored by university groups. Israel has said the Texas-based group is a front for Palestinian militants, and federal authorities have subpoenaed the group's records for a look into Hamas connections to U.S. organizations.
The association's president, Rafeeq Jaber, said his aim is "to let people know the truth" about Israel and the occupied territories.
At the University of California at Los Angeles, the latest issue of the MSA's magazine, Al-Talib, features three full-page color ads soliciting donations for the Holy Land, and the Global Relief and Benevolence International foundations.
If the money raised on campus "goes to families of those who have died in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I don't see anything wrong with that," said the magazine's publisher, Mohammad Mertaban, 20, a junior from suburban Chino Hills, Calif. "I don't understand how people can label Palestinians terrorists."

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