WASHINGTON — A group of Republican congressmen is pushing for a crackdown on U.N. support for nongovernmental organizations with links to Al Qaeda.
Led by Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee, the lawmakers last week introduced legislation that would condition American funding for the United Nations on the world body dissociating itself from groups tied to terrorism.
The effort comes amid reports that a humanitarian organization awarded "consultative status" by the U.N. Economic and Social Council, the Saudi Arabia-based International Islamic Relief Organization, has separately been designated by the Treasury Department and the United Nations as being a front for Al Qaeda.
"The only power that we have over the United Nations is the power of the purse," Mr. Wamp said in a statement. "We do not want to send U.S. tax dollars to U. N. agencies that provide accreditation to any organization with known ties to terrorist organizations. How can one arm of the United Nations give legitimacy to an organization, and yet another arm includes it on a watch list of groups known to have ties to Al Qaeda?"
Fox News first reported Mr. Wamp's bill last week. Lawmakers began their summer recess over the weekend, but a spokeswoman for the congressman said they would take it up when they return in September.
A top Treasury Department official told the network that it had placed two of the IIRO's branches on a sanction list for "facilitating fund-raising for Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups." The official said the group had diverted money to a Qaeda branch in the Philippines headed by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law.
The U.N. NGO committee is reviewing the matter, Fox News reported. Four other Republican lawmakers are co-sponsoring the legislation, including the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan, and the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.