Governments around the world should put tighter controls on religious groups to keep them from funneling money to terrorist organizations, a global task force on money laundering has recommended.
The Financial Action Task Force, meeting in Paris in late February, called on its 31 member-nations to more tightly regulate the financial oversight of non-profit organizations, including religious bodies. The task force said recent studies show that groups claiming to be religious charities are channeling money to Islamic terrorist organizations.
The report noted that some governments are "unable to monitor" religious groups because of laws or constitutional provisions mandating separation of church and state. It called for "alternative solutions to guarantee transparency and access when necessary to competent authorities."
In the United States, law enforcement officials have been moving to freeze assets of religious charities suspected of funding terrorism. On March 1, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a Muslim charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, whose assets were frozen in December of 2001. The group has been linked to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.