A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the government’s decision to freeze the assets of a Missouri-based Islamic charity with alleged links to a foreign group that supports terrorism.
The Treasury Department alleges that the Islamic American Relief Agency-USA, of Columbia, Mo., is an affiliate of a Sudanese charity — the similarly named Islamic African Relief Agency — accused of financing al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with a lower court’s 2005 decision finding that the charity is a branch of the Sudanese-based agency.
Records describe the Missouri charity as an “affiliate” and a “partner” of the Sudanese group, and the charity sought permission to transfer funds to the group, the appeals court said.
The Missouri charity did not contest the terrorist designation of the Sudanese group, but claims the organizations have independent leaders and separate bank accounts. The Missouri-based group was founded by a Sudanese immigrant in 1985 to raise money for humanitarian activities around the world.
In 2004, federal agents raided the group’s headquarters as part of a criminal investigation. No criminal charges have been filed against the charity or its employees.
While the court found the unclassified evidence was “not overwhelming,” the three-judge panel noted that its review of national security cases is “extremely deferential” to the government.
The appeals court also rejected the charity’s argument that blocking its assets violated its rights under the Constitution. The law is clear that “there is no constitutional right to fund terrorism,” the court said. “Where an organization is found to have supported terrorism, government actions to suspend that support are not unconstitutional.”