Kuwaiti minister rejects U.S. accusations of Syria terror funding

U.S. official said the minister had 'a history of promoting jihad in Syria'

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Kuwait's justice and Islamic affairs minister rejected accusations from a senior U.S. official that he called for jihad in Syria and financed terrorism, state news agency KUNA said, citing a cabinet statement released late on Monday.

Nayef al-Ajmi called U.S. Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen’s remarks “baseless and groundless.”

Cohen said March that Ajmi had "a history of promoting jihad in Syria" and that his image was used on fundraising materials as a financier of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

Cohen also said that Ajmi’s ministry allowing nonprofit organization and charities to collect donations for Syria was “a measure we believe can be easily exploited by Kuwait-based terrorist fundraisers."

The Kuwaiti cabinet responded to the allegations by saying it “reiterated Kuwait’s firm rejection to all forms of terrorism regardless of its justification,” adding it would aid in fighting terrorism.

"Al-Ajmi affirmed that all his activities and efforts are part of Kuwait's well-recognized official and unofficial efforts in charitable, religious and humanitarian realms," the cabinet's statement said.

Kuwait, unlike other Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, adopted a policy against arming rebels to help fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Instead, it has led a humanitarian fundraising campaign for the war-torn country through the United Nations.

Despite seemingly good intentions, Kuwait also allows fundraising in private houses and on social media, avenues which are hard to control and monitor. Some of the campaigns on social media openly call for funds for weapon purchases.

Some Kuwaitis have gone to fight in the three year long conflict which has drawn in Islamist combatants from across the Middle East and from Europe and Asia and fueled sectarian tensions.

(With Reuters)

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