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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kingdom crops up in WikiLeak again

Kingdom crops up in WikiLeak again

Cambodia has appeared in a second United States diplomatic cable released by the website WikiLeaks, which alludes to a government crackdown against a local branch of a Kuwait-based Islamic charity that has been linked to terrorist groups.

The cable, labelled “secret” and dated December 2009, was sent by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to US embassies across the Middle East.

It outlines Washington’s policy of trying to restrict illicit finance activities of known terrorist organisations.

In a series of talking points relating to Kuwait, the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society is singled out as a specific concern of the US government.

“We designated the organisation in the United States as a specially designated terrorist entity based on information that RIHS funds have supported terrorist groups in various regions of the world,” the cable states.

It added that the US government was “not alone in its concern”, saying that six governments including Cambodia had taken “enforcement action” against RIHS branches in their countries.

In February, The Post reported that RIHS was listed in a 2008 US treasury department statement claiming it had delivered “financial and material support” to al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda affiliates such as Jemaah Islamiyah, as well as providing “financial support for acts of terrorism”.

The statement noted that an RIHS employee had provided logistical support to Indonesian Riduan Isamuddin – better known as Hambali – a key JI operative who hid in Phnom Penh during 2002 and early 2003.

Ahmad Yahya, a Cham government adviser, denied the authorities had cracked down specifically on any organisation, saying the only firm action was directed against the Saudi-funded Um Al-Qura madrasa, or Islamic school, north of Phnom Penh.

The madrasa was raided and closed down by police in 2003.

Ahmad Yahya said the US Embassy had provided substantial support for outreach to Islamic communities following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

“We have very good links with the embassy here and with the US government,” he said.

The cable is just one of more than 250,000 leaked American foreign policy documents WikiLeaks has pledged to release in the coming months. A total of 931 documents had been released as of yesterday.

US Embassy spokesman Mark Wenig yesterday declined to comment on the cable and the nature of US cooperation in curbing the spread of Islamic militancy in Cambodia.

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