As we explained in a previous article, numerous taxpayer-funded charities in the US have been allowed to continue operating even after alleged links to terrorism were discovered. This is a marked change from the years following 9/11, when scores of organizations were shut down after prosecutors discovered links to terrorism.
The Obama Administration has been more lenient towards this behavior, and the Charity Commission now reports that links between US charities and extremism have risen to an all-time high.
The Charity Commission is a watchdog that guards US charities from terrorism, fights financial abuse/fraud, and protects susceptible beneficiaries.
“It is the most dangerous because of the threat of Islamist extremism,” says Commission Chairman William Shawcross. “It is not the most constant threat – it is the most potentially deadly threat.”
In 2013, the Charity Commission warned that funds “raised in the name of ‘charity’ generally or under the name of a specific charity are misused to support terrorist activities, with our without the charity’s knowledge.”
Shawcross is fighting to protect Muslim charities amongst growing fears that terrorists are infiltrating these organizations to promote and fund their own goals. Charities that provide humanitarian aid are particularly at risk because “their funds may be diverted and…their staff and local partners will be working in areas where militant groups and in some cases those who support terrorist activities operate. Their work is not easy.”
Many blame Obama’s permissive attitude for the rise of ISIS, but reports show that Hamas – a terrorist organization controlling the Gaza Strip in northwest Israel – has more links to US-based Islamist charities than any other group.
At least eight US charities, including the federally funded United States Agency for International Development (USAID), have been accused of supporting Hamas by way of the Gaza-based Unlimited Friends Association for Social Development (UFA).
UFA is a Palestinian group thought to be closely aligned with Hamas leaders. UFA regularly meets with Hamas ministers and officials and proudly displays its connections in Hamas literature. The group is openly anti-Semitic, and regularly hands cash to “families of martyrs of the Palestinian people.”
How do these people get our money?
Islamist charities linked to extremism are able to secure Western funding because they do provide some charitable services – like children’s summer camps and welfare.
UFA benefits Hamas through “da’wah” – a form of social outreach often employed by extremist groups to reinforce control.
“By providing social services, Islamist terror groups gain political and moral legitimacy among the people under their control as well as among their supporters abroad,” explains counterterrorism expert Matthew Levitt.
Through da’wah, groups like UFA help “provide cover for raising, laundering, and transferring funds, facilitate the group’s propaganda and recruitment efforts, provide employment to its operatives, and serve as a logistical support network for its terrorist operations,” says Levitt.
Most aid money is easily transferred. As Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan explains, “Hezbollah builds bombs. Hezbollah also builds homes… When you help Hezbollah build homes, you are also helping Hezbollah build bombs.”
This problem is not new. As the threat of terror increases across the globe, the Trump Administration must find ways to inhibit terror financing. We can no longer afford to be lenient.
Editor’s note: Obama refused to shut these down, but perhaps we have a President now who is serious about defeating radical Islamic terror.