Former US President Barack Obama’s administration knowingly funded an organisation that had an affiliation with Islamic terror outfit al-Qaeda, said a Senate Committee report. The Senate Committee report is based on a probe by the office of the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) into the Obama administration’s approval of a $200,000 grant to a US evangelical aid organisation – ‘World Vision’, that had links with the al-Qaeda affiliate, Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA).
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley recently released a report detailing the findings of an investigation his staff began in February 2019 into the relationship between World Vision and ISRA.
The investigation by the Senator and his team has found that World Vision was not aware that ISRA had been sanctioned by the US from 2004 for funnelling roughly $5 million to Maktab al-Khidamat, the predecessor to Al-Qaeda controlled by Osama Bid Laden.
However, that ignorance was born from insufficient vetting practices, the report said. “World Vision works to help people in need across the world, and that work is admirable,” Senator Grassley said in a statement.
“Though it may not have known that ISRA was on the sanctions list or that it was listed because of its affiliation with terrorism, it should have. Ignorance can’t suffice as an excuse. World Vision’s changes in vetting practices are a good first step, and I look forward to its continued progress,” the report said.
Obama adminstration released funds even after being aware of terror-links: Report
Reportedly, the investigation by Senator Grassley was prompted after an article published by National Review in 2018 in which Sam Westrop, the director of the Middle East Forum’s Islamist Watch, had detailed MEF’s findings that the Obama administration had approved a “$200,000 grant of taxpayer money to ISRA.”
The Obama administration had specifically authorized the release of at least $115,000 of this grant even after learning that it was a designated terror organization, Westrop wrote.
According to the Senate report, World Vision had submitted a grant application to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to carry out its Blue Nile Recovery Program on January 21, 2014. The proposed program sought to provide food security, sanitation equipment, and health services to areas hard-hit by conflict in the Blue Nile region of Sudan.
Following the proposal, USAID had awarded World Vision a $723,405 grant for the program. Later that month, ISRA too agreed to provide humanitarian services to parts of the Blue Nile Region for World Vision. The two organizations had also collaborated on several projects in 2013 and 2014.
World Vision only discovered ISRA was sanctioned after the Evangelical humanitarian non-profit discussed partnering with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on a separate humanitarian project in Sudan, the report claimed. In September 2014, World Vision’s legal department was also notified of ISRA’s potential status as a sanctioned entity and immediately halted all payments to the organization.
Reportedly, one month later, World Vision submitted another request for a license to transact with ISRA to pay them $125,000 for services rendered. On May 4, 2015, the Obama administration’s State Department recommended OFAC grant World Vision’s request for the license to transact with al-Qaeda linked ISRA.
The report said the investigation “did not find any evidence that World Vision intentionally sought to circumvent US sanctions by partnering with ISRA.”
In its report, the Senate committee report concluded that World Vision had “access to the appropriate public information and should have known how, but failed to, properly vet ISRA as a sub-grantee, resulting in the transfer of US taxpayer dollars to an organisation with an extensive history of supporting terrorist organisations and terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden.”
World Vision also part of alliance that funds terror inside India
Incidentally, World Vision works in India as well and also is part of ‘InterAction’, America’s largest alliance of international non-profit organisations. Last year, it was revealed how the US government agencies have been funding the Islamic charities linked to terror groups based in Pakistan and the Middle East through InterAction.
InterAction’s Together Project involves the most controversial Islamic charities including Helping Hand for Relief & Development (HHRD), which works with the charitable and political wings of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terror organisations that direct terror against India in Kashmir.