Wednesday, June 12, 2024

USAID Investigating Funding of Islamist Organization after Years of MEF Exposés

ResearchGovernment Funding of IslamismUSAID Investigating Funding of Islamist Organization after Years of MEF Exposés

The inspector general for the federal agency charged with funding humanitarian projects throughout the world has opened an investigation into grants the agency has given to Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), a Muslim charity that has cooperated with jihadist organizations operating in South Asia. The investigation comes after years of reports about HHRD’s Islamist ties by Middle East Forum (MEF) researchers.

The Washington Examiner reported on February 28, 2024, that the Inspector General for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) opened an investigation in February 2021, soon after the agency gave $110,000 to HHRD, described by the news outlet as “a Michigan-based charity that lawmakers have warned shares ties to terrorists, including Pakistan’s Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation.” (The U.S. Department of State designated Falah-e-Isniat as a terrorist organization for its role the 2008 Mumbai hotel massacre.)

In 2023, U.S. Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-Texas), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to USAID Administrator Samantha Power asking her to suspend the grant, which was made “despite longstanding, detailed allegations that HHRD is connected to designated terrorist organizations, terror financiers, and extremist groups.”

Amazingly enough, the controversy was not enough to stop the Biden Administration from granting another $73,000 to HHRD in 2023, as the Examiner reported. In a follow-up story published on March 1, 2024, the Washington Examiner quoted numerous lawmakers who expressed outrage that the agency continued to give funds to HHRD even after the previously unreported investigation.

“Under no circumstances should taxpayer dollars go to organizations that sympathize with terrorist groups,” Marco Rubio (R-Florida) told the Examiner.

News of the investigation and the subsequent Congressional outrage comes after several years of reporting and research by Sam Westrop, who has written extensively about the ties between HHRD and two other organizations — Jamaat e Islami (JI) and Lashkar e Taiba (LeT). Westrop, director of the Middle East Forum’s Islamist Watch project, first documented the ties between HHRD, JI, and LeT in an article published in National Review in 2018 in which he reported about a conference that took place in Timegara, Pakistan, late the previous year.

“Other organizations sponsoring the event included the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation and the Milli Muslim League, the charitable and political wings, respectively, of the notorious Pakistani terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba. In 2016, the U.S. government designated the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation as a terrorist organization. Today Hafiz Saeed, the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the mastermind behind the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks, lives freely in Pakistan, despite a $10 million U.S. bounty,” Westrop wrote.

Another MEF-produced piece, published in the Sunday Guardian in 2020, called attention to the role Perkins Coie, the international law firm that peddled the “Steele Dossier” documents, played in HHRD’s efforts to falsely distance itself from Islamism in South Asia.

Amar Islam, a human rights activist who worked as a prosecutor for the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh between 2011 and 2014, and who now lives in the D.C. area, expressed dismay that the USAID has funded HHRD despite its ties to Islamists.

“Most people who come to the United States from South Asia do so to escape Islamism, not have their taxes used to support Islamist organizations,” he said.

Popular Tags: