February 19, 2006

U.S. blocks assets of charity said linked to Hamas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Sunday it
had blocked the accounts of the Islamic charity KindHearts,
citing links to the Palestinian group Hamas, which Washington
considers a terrorist organization.

The Treasury Department it froze the accounts of the
Toledo, Ohio-based nonprofit group "pending investigation."

"KindHearts is the progeny of Holy Land Foundation and
Global Relief Foundation, which attempted to mask their support
for terrorism behind the facade of charitable giving," Treasury
Under Secretary Stuart Levy said in a statement.

The United States shut down the Holy Land Foundation, once
the largest U.S.-based Muslim charity, and the Global Relief
Foundation after the September 11, 2001, attacks. It said Holy
Land had ties to Hamas and Global Relief was affiliated with al

KindHearts could not be reached for comment. The telephone
at its headquarters was answered by someone who said it was no
longer a KindHearts line.

"KindHearts officials and fund-raisers have coordinated
with Hamas leaders and made contributions to Hamas-affiliated
organizations," the Treasury said.

It said a former official of the Global Relief Foundation
had established KindHearts to fill a fund-raising void created
when Global Relief and the Holy Land Foundation were shut down.

The KindHearts probe could lead either to its exoneration
or official designation as an organization tied to terrorism.