GOP Wants Probe of U.N. Affiliates; Says Adviser Groups Fund Al Qaeda

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Byline: Audrey Hudson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Republican lawmakers say the United Nations is allowing nongovernment organizations with ties to al Qaeda to act as technical authorities and advisers, and they are asking for an investigation into the matter.

The U.S. Treasury designated the Philippine and Indonesian branches of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) as having "financial ties to al Qaeda"; however, the United National Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has not stripped the group of its accreditation, thus allowing it and other organizations to act as government consultants.

Nearly 30 Republican lawmakers are asking U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad to investigate these and other groups granted such status, and are threatening legislation to withhold funds if the accreditation continues.

"It is important that Americans know that their taxpayer dollars are not being used to accredit organizations jeopardizing our security," stated the lawmakers, who are lead by Rep. Zach Wamp, Tennessee Republican.

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, ranking member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, are supporting legislation that would withhold contributions to the U.N. council.

"These funds would be withheld until the Secretary of State determines that the ECOSOC has withdrawn this consultative status for all entities with affiliations to terrorist organizations, as identified by either the United Nations itself or the U.S. Treasury Department," the letter said.

In August 2006, the Treasury Department declared that the IIRO branch located in the Philippines "is a source of funding for the al Qaeda Abu Sayyaf Group" and that it served as a liaison "with other Islamic extremist groups. …