WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government, widening its financial dragnet against Osama bin Laden, froze the assets of two organizations that U.S. officials said funneled charitable donations to support bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.
As part of the Treasury Department's action Wednesday, the government also blocked the financial assets of two officials at those two organizations that Treasury said were involved in diverting money to al-Qaida terrorists.
The two organizations affected by the government's order are: the Afghan Support Committee and the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society.
The committee, which the government said bin Laden set up, has offices in Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The action affected the society's offices in Pakistan and Afghanistan but not in Kuwait.
The Treasury Department said the two groups presented themselves as legitimate charitable organizations but diverted money intended for widows and orphans to support al-Qaida's terrorist activities.
``It's our view that they were raising money under a false pretext,'' said Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.
``They were leading people to believe that they were giving money for good and worthy charitable purposes that compassionate people around the world would be inclined to give money to. In fact, they were taking these monies and feeding them into terrorist activities,'' he said.
Treasury said the Pakistan office of Revival of Islamic Heritage Society padded the number of orphans it claimed to care for by using names of orphans who had died or didn't exist. Funds sent for these dead or nonexistent orphans were funneled to al-Qaida.
One of the individuals named in the order is Abu Bakr Al-Jaziri of Peshawar, Pakistan, whom the government said is the finance chief of the Afghan Support Committee. It also said he had served as bin Laden's chief fund-raiser.
The government said Al-Jaziri collected funds for al-Qaida in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, through the committee. He also collected money for al-Qaida from local Arab groups by claiming the funds would go to help orphans and widows, but he diverted the monies to al-Qaida operatives.
The other individual listed is Abd al-Mushin Al-Libi, whom the government said runs the Pakistan office of the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society and manages the Afghan Support Committee's office in Peshawar. Treasury also spelled the individual's name as Abd al-Muhsin Al-Libi.
The government said Al-Libi has provided bin Laden and his associates with facilities in Peshawar and has carried money and messages on bin Laden's behalf.
Treasury Department spokesman Rob Nichols said the government does not believe the four entities have financial assets in the United States. He said it was possible that people in the United States gave money to the two organizations.
The four new names bring to 168 the total number of entities whose finances have been targeted by the U.S. government since the Sept. 11 attacks. Roughly $68 million in financial assets of terrorists has been blocked worldwide since the attacks.
The United States has been working closely with other nations to stop the flow of money to terrorist networks.
``Shutting down terrorists' access to money center nations is the key to preventing them from purchasing the tools of their evil,'' O'Neill said.