The Obama Administration “knowingly funded” an Islamist organization linked to al-Qaeda. This startling expose, published on the website of US magazine National Review, states that a Sudan-based terror organization was approved a grant of $200,000 by the US Treasury in 2014.
It then adds the more shocking news that even after Obama administration’s officials were told that the financing unit — Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) — is a US-designated terrorist organization, they went ahead with authorizing the release of at least $115,000 of the aforesaid grant to the Khartoum-based group in 2015.
Grants despite terror tag
It was way back in 2004, that the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had designated ISRA, also known as the Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA), as a terror-financing organization. It had taken the decision because of ISRA’s strong links to Osama bin Laden and his organization Maktab al-Khidamat (MK) since 1997. In fact, ISRA had raised $5 million for Osama bin Laden’s group by 2000.
In spite of these and other evidence of linkages in the past, the magazine claims that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in July 2014 awarded $723,405 to an international charity group World Vision Inc. working in Sudan for humanitarian purposes— out of which it surprisingly earmarked $200,000 to the sub-grantee, the infamous ISRA.
After a lot of controversy over the news of the grant of these funds to the terror funding unit, OFAC held “close collaboration and consultations with the [US] Department of State” to then take the untenable decision of issuing a license to a World Vision affiliate, World Vision International, which allowed “a one-time transfer of approximately $115,000 to ISRA in May 2015.
Call for Congressional probe
Another astounding fact in this respect is that all grantees and sub-grantees of US-government grants register for a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and with the government’s System for Award Management (SAM) database. However, ISRA was mysteriously assigned a DUNS number — as recorded at the government’s USAspending.gov website — that did not match with any organization in the US government’s SAM database. The only listings for ISRA in this database were among the designated Sudanese al-Qaeda affiliates and branches.
The writer of the article Sam Westrop, who is director of the ‘Islamist Watch’ project of the Middle East Forum, states that: “It is no secret that the Obama administration sought to downplay the threat of Islamism, and even to coopt some Islamist movements to promote its agenda. In its foreign policy, the administration expressed support for Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, while domestically, the White House invited Islamists to design the government’s Countering Violent Extremism program”.
In his concluding remarks, he states: “[The US] Congress must investigate this question and, more broadly, where USAID is sending taxpayers’ money, for ISRA might not be the only example. The House’s Foreign Affairs, Oversight, and Financial Services Committees, along with the Senate Finance Committee, must examine how a designated group came to qualify for government monies, why OFAC and the State Department authorized the transfer of funds after learning of ISRA’s terror ties, and which bureaucrat or political appointee was responsible for this mess”.