CHICAGO, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Federal investigators reportedly are looking at a suburban Chicago charity for possible ties to global terrorism.
The Chicago Tribune Thursday reported the U.S. Treasury Department is considering whether to freeze the assets of Global Relief Foundation of Bridgeview, Ill. An attorney for the group denied any ties to terrorism or Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, believed to be behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Attorney Ashraf Nubani called the investigation a smear campaign.
"In times like this, things that normally would be innocent will be viewed in the worst possible way," Nubani said.
President George W. Bush on Sept. 24 ordered a freeze on the assets of 27 groups and individuals suspected of funding terrorist organizations. All of those affected so far have been based outside the United States.
The Tribune said the list may be expanded next week.
Global Relief is based in an industrial park, has 12 employees and raises money through mosque appeals and campaigns. A fundraising video shows maimed and bloody corpses of what are described as Muslims in Kashmir.
The group also has offices in Pakistan, Belgium and France and last year raised more than $1.8 million for mosques and Muslim schools in the United States, as well as funds for clinics in Palestinian areas and refugee camps in Kosovo. The charity is one of the few allowed to operate inside Afghanistan by the Taliban, the Tribune said.
The Tribune reported records indicate a tenuous connection between the group's former treasurer and a Texas imam, a Muslim cleric, with alleged links to bin Laden.
Nubani said the government has gone on a "fishing expedition" since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Tribune said Nubani declined to allow the newspaper to review Global Relief's records to determine how it distributes the money it raises.
Global Relief executive assistant James Farrell said whoever carried out the Sept. 11 attacks was "no more Muslim than (Oklahoma City bomber Timothy) McVeigh was a Christian," adding there is no evidence any of the group's money goes to terrorists.
"Nobody can say anything about us. Helping people (who are) dying and suffering -- how can that be wrong?"