U.S. Lebanon aid stymied by donor fear

Aug. 9, 2006 at 12:17 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Muslim charities in the United States say donors for relief supplies for Lebanon are afraid of being linked to supporting terror groups with cash donations.

One of the largest Muslim organizations, CAIR, has listed goods needed in Lebanon on its cair-net.org Web site, including rice, sugar and cooking oil, along with instructions on how to pack and send them, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

"We're forced to go the least effective route, which is sending actual relief supplies, because of the restrictions on, and the problems associated with, sending financial relief to the Middle East," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said. "If you send lentils, at least no one can accuse you of supporting terrorism."

The Arab American Institute, however, is recommending against such donations.

"We've been encouraged not to do that by the Lebanese Embassy and others -- not to send goods, because it's inefficient and it takes money to sort it out and decide what to do with it," said the institute's president, James Zogby. "What's needed is cash so people on the ground can buy what they need, when they need it."

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