Foreign-based organisations having links with Pakistan-based charities and hate-speech preacher Zakir Naik scammed millions of dollars in the name of helping India battle the COVID crisis, a series of two elaborate reports published by Disinfo Lab have recently revealed.
The reports revealed that dubious organisations with their roots linked to Pakistan collected funds all over the world, except for China, but after collecting millions in the name of helping “India Breathe”, they sent peanuts in name of help. The looted money, the report claimed, could be diverted from terror finance into the hands of the Pakistan army, Islamists and Hamas.
It also provided a list of organisations and the murky individuals associated with the scam carried out under the pretext of helping India tide over the ferocious second wave of coronavirus outbreak.
Here are the list of organisations, dubious individuals, and shady fundraiser platforms that were used to dupe people into donating for the Covid outbreak in India, but were possibly diverted for fomenting protests and social disturbances, including terror attacks, in India and elsewhere.
One of the sketchy organisations that were at the forefront of seeking donations in the name of helping India was the Islamic Medical Association of North America or “IMANA”. However, when questions were raised on the transparency of funds received, it would cry “Islamophobia”.
Disinfo Lab probed into the details of IMANA and it was struck by how an organisation that had absolutely no presence on the ground and with no help from local partners in India, was planning to help during the COVID crisis.
Initially, it sought financial aid through its website. It’s website reportedly went down on April 29 after the donation drive was launched on April 27 “likely due to heavy traffic”. IMANA raised a whooping Rs 8.77 crores from Instagram through #HelpIndiaBreathe campaign, which was followed by $298,919 being raised by the Just Giving platform.
Disinfo Lab said IMANA started receiving donations at a speed of $100K per hour after reaching $100K on the second day. According to rough estimates, IMANA received approximately Rs30 crores to Rs 158 crores.
IMANA’s trail led Disinfo Lab to chance upon ‘Launch Good’, which led them to several such scams being run in the name of Covid in India. The report revealed that most of these shady entities claimed to be Muslim organisations but they are not what they portrayed to be. Instead, they are fraud organisations feeding on Muslim sentiments and a larger global population in general.
Another notorious organisation involved in fleecing money in the name of helping COVID-19 patients in India was Muslim Aid. The organisation has expanded its branches in several countries such as the United States, UK, Australia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bosnia and Sweden. However, not all countries are unaware of their shady activities.
The organisation is already banned in Israel and Bangladesh for having ties with terror outfits while Spain had accused the organisation of financing Mujahideen fighters in Bosnia.
The funds being collected by Muslim Aid for apparently helping India during its COVID crisis was done by three of its front organisation—Muslim Aid(UK), Muslim Aid Australia, and Muslim Aid USA, as per the Disinfo Lab report.
Muslim Aid UK
The Muslim Aid UK is headed by a Bangladeshi war criminal Mueen-Uddin Chowdhury, the former Al-Badr leader. The militia of Al-Badr were known for engaging in systematic execution of Bengali pro-liberation movement activists and intellectuals around the 1970s. The execution continued throughout the movement as Pakistani supporters wreaked havoc and mercilessly killed intellectuals who swayed public opinion towards having an independent country.
Chowdhury was one amongst the Al-Badr militias, who actively participated in suppressing the Bangladeshi liberation movement and killings of the pro-liberation intellectuals. He allegedly also has links with Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Muslim Aid USA
The Muslim Aid USA was one of the front organisations leading the crowdfunding campaign seeking donations for India’s COVID-19 outbreak. Before 2021, the organisation had mentioned India only three occasions—in 2018, 2019, and 2020–all of which was about Qurbani Cow Shares & Kerala Floods (2018). It is pertinent to mention that the Muslim Aid USA sought donation in the name of cow slaughter in India, even though it is banned in several Indian states.
Like IMANA, the Muslim Aid has no ground presence in India but it preys on sympathy of people to collect donations in the name of crisis unfolding in India. And unsuspecting individuals, shattered by the COVID outbreak in India, donated their hard-earned money to these organisations, which never reached the intended beneficiaries.
After raking in millions in donations, the Muslim Aid USA said it donated only 9 oxygen concentrators to India, details of which are murky and there is no clarity if even this help arrived.
The shady fundraiser platform “Launch Good”
Through “Launch Good” platform alone, the Muslim Aid USA was able to mop over $76,000. It is also worth noting that Launch Good is not an independent portal committed to transparency. It is a part of the nexus that is connected to Jamaat-e-Islami and keeps the details of fund collection and relief material delivered under wraps.
Even though the Muslim Aid USA collected funds for helping COVID victims, there are no details of actual help provided. The Launch Good platform also has a fundraiser in the name of Jammu and Kashmir known as “Jammu and Azad Kashmir”. Despite the lack of transparency, the fund has inched towards its initial target of collecting $10,000.
Muslim Aid Australia
After realising that other organisations are receiving generous donations in the name of India’s COVID outbreak, the Muslim Aid Australia also decided to take a dip. Like its sister organisations, the Muslim Aid Australia started a fundraiser on the “Launch Good” platform for helping India during COVID-19 crisis.
However, they went a step further and roped in one Bilal Philips as their star campaigner for the fund-raising. Bilal is known to have links with Taliban and Hamas.
To increase the impact of its fund-raiser, Muslim Aid Australia used a picture of man suffering from Tuberculosis for its campaign for COVID-19 outbreak in India. The picture was from 2018 and available on Getty Images for $499.
As it the case with its sister organisations, Muslim Aid Australia was not transparent on the help it delivered in India. It’s website said it had donated 40 oxygen concentrators but there were no details attached to substantiate those claims.
Bilal Philips who has terror links with Hamas and Taliban
The star campaigner of the fundraiser, Bilal Philips is a Canadian Muslim teacher, who lives in Qatar. He is a former Board Member of the Islamic Education Research Academy (iERA) which is known to have members of the most hardline radical Islamists in the world.
And while Muslim Aid Australia used this Bilal Philips for promoting their fundraiser, he remains banned in several countries, including Australia, for his links with terror organisations.
Bilal also has a history of working in India. In 2009-2010, Bilal founded two education institutions i.e., Preston International College and Al-Fajr International School, both in Chennai, India.
Muslim Aid Pakistan
While different branches of Muslim Aid appear to work independently, the relationship of Muslim Aid Pakistan with other organisations is rather peculiar. Though other organisation claim they carry out work on ground(whatever worth it is), the Pakistani branch of Muslim Aid has a connection with its intelligence wing ISI.
The Muslim Aid Pakistan is currently headed by retired Lt. General Khalid Latif Mughal, who had served in the Pakistan Army for 36 years and was also the General Secretary of the Analysis wing of ISI. The various branches of Muslim Aid work in conjunction with Muslim Aid Pakistan for the “charity” wing of Jamaat-e-Islami(JeI), Al Khidmat.
These Muslim Aid organisations have a symbiotic relationship is evident from the fact that they share common ‘Board Members’ across various branches.
In fact, it is a revolving door mechanism in play, the Disinfo Lab report says. Board Members of the various organisations of Muslim Aid keep moving from one organisation to another. A total of four members of Muslim Aid USA, UK and Pakistan are common across the ‘Boards’ of these organisations. These are Muhammad Manazir Ahsan, Farooq Salman Murad, Syed Mohammed Tanzeem Wasti, and Sir Iqbal Sacranie.
While there is no denying the fact that all the fronts of Muslim Aid are associated with each other, Pakistan is the fulcrum of this entire charade of charity industry. Some members served one stint with US & UK branch were later promoted to Pakistan front. It won’t be an overstatement to say that Muslim Aid Pakistan is the primary organisations and the remaining ones are its offshoots.
Zakir Naik, Zakaat Foundation, Al Fouz, Peace TV and their connection to key members of Muslim Aid organisations
The crucial players running the organised charity scam through Muslim Aid organisations are also key figures in some of the controversial organisations in India—such as Zakaat Foundation India (ZFI), Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Al Fouz Trust and Peace TV.
Mohammed Jafer Hussain, one of the key members of Muslim Aid UK, is also a trustee of Peace TV, the channel through which Zakir Naik propagated his hate speech. Besides, Hussain was also the director of the Islamic Research Foundation, another organisation owned by Zakir Naik.
Similarly, Bilal Philips, who was roped in by Muslim Aid Australia for the fundraiser in the name of India’s COVID outbreak, is a close associate of Zakir Naik and has regularly appeared as a speaker on Peace TV.
All the members of the Muslim Aid organisations are linked to each other in some or the other way. Mohammad Jaffer Hussain Qureshi is the Chairman of the al-Fouz Trust, whose founding trustees Mustassam Abbasi is also the director of Peace TV. Hussain is also a close associate of Syed Zafar Mehmood, founder of Zakaat Foundation India, and both of them serve as directors of Zakaat Foundation of India(International).
The detailed article by Disinfo Lab, detailing the shady individuals, their crowdfunding campaigns and dubious tactics can be read here.