US Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financing David Cohen, testifies before the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 15, 2013
US Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financing David Cohen, testifies before the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 15, 2013 © Karen Bleier - AFP/File
US Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financing David Cohen, testifies before the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 15, 2013
AFP
Last updated: April 1, 2014

Kuwait defends minister after US charge of funding jihadists

Kuwait's government has criticised a senior US official for having accused a minister of the Gulf state of funding jihadist fighters in Syria, local media reported on Tuesday.

"The cabinet followed with great attention and displeasure accusations by a US official ... against the justice and Awqaf (Islamic endowments) minister," Nayef al-Ajmi, it said in a statement.

David Cohen, the US Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Ajmi's appointment to the Kuwaiti cabinet was "a step in the wrong direction."

"Ajmi has a history of promoting jihad in Syria," he said.

"His image has been featured on fundraising posters for a prominent Al-Nusra Front financier," Cohen was quoted as saying in a lecture, referring to the Al-Qaeda affiliate battling the Syrian regime.

Parts of the lecture were carried in the media in oil-rich Kuwait, a close ally of the United States.

The cabinet statement said Ajmi explained his position at a government meeting on Monday and had categorically denied the charges.

Ajmi, a former deputy dean of the Islamic studies college at Kuwait University, was appointed to the cabinet in January.

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