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Sunday, 30 September, 2001, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Funding the 'heroes of Islam'
Spy plane allegedly shot down in Afghanistan
Alleged spy plane pictured in Al Rasheed's publication
One of the organisations named by President Bush as part of the network serving Osama Bin Laden is the Al Rasheed Trust. The Trust, based in Pakistan, has been accused of funding terrorist activities. Martin Plaut went along to its offices in Islamabad to see what it was really like.

On Jinnah Avenue, just a stone's throw away from the presidential residence, is a board on a building advertising the Al Rasheed Trust. Pass a photocopy booth, up some rather grubby stairs, and there are its offices. On the face of it, the Trust hardly appears like an organisation capable of challenging a super-power like the United States.

There were three pairs of sandals outside the door, and a rather reluctant bookkeeper who answered it. He was unwilling to say very much, referring us to his boss who is in Karachi. But he was prepared to say that the decision of the Pakistani authorities to freeze its bank accounts would not prevent Al Rasheed from working.

Al Rasheed office in Islamabad
Al Rasheed is reluctant to have questioning visitors

He was also prepared to provide us with a copy of the Trust's publication, Dharb-I-Mu'min.

The front page lead was entitled "Sparks - prelude of a big fire" and called on the almighty to "protect the nation from the fire which the Jews want to provoke".

It also featured a picture of what the paper claimed to be the American spy plane which was shot down over Afghanistan.

On an inside page it even provided a photograph of the cockpit, complete with the plane's serial numbers. The caption read: "The Afghan Muslims have made the beginning of their warm welcome to the US".

Donations without questions

Leaflets handed out by Al Rasheed call for donations for Muslim causes in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kashmir and Pakistan. They specifically ask donors not to ask how the money will be used.

"Those who are sending the donation must reflect whether they have complete faith and confidence in the honesty and integrity of the dispensers. If they do then there is no reason for sending conditional donations", the leaflet reads.

While the paper denies providing funds for terrorist activities, and declares that it is "purely a welfare organisation", it does solicit funds for fighters or mujahideen.

Its website gives a clear definition of the Trust's role. It declares that "it is compulsory and a debt of Muslims to provide moral, political, military and financial support to the heroes of Islam".

The BBC's Michael Buchanan
speaks to the Today programme from Islamabad
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