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Senate investigation finds Obama admin knowingly funded a designated terrorist organization

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The Obama administration knowingly funded an al-Qaeda terrorist affiliate according to a Senate investigation into the matter. Non-profit humanitarian agency World Vision United States improperly transacted with the Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) in 2014 and the Obama administration approved it. They sent government funds to an organization sanctioned for its terrorist ties.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) just released a report that publicizes the findings of an investigation his staff began in February 2019 into the relationship between World Vision and ISRA.

Apparently, World Vision claims to have not known that ISRA had been sanctioned by the U.S. since 2004 after funneling roughly $5 million to Maktab al-Khidamat, the precursor to al-Qaeda led by Osama Bid Laden.

That ignorance was ostensibly due to insufficient vetting of the organization and negligence according to the report.

“World Vision works to help people in need across the world, and that work is admirable,” Grassley said in the 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 whole investigation was triggered by a July 2018 National Review article where Sam Westrop, the director of the Middle East Forum’s Islamist Watch, detailed MEF’s findings that the Obama administration had approved a “$200,000 grant of taxpayer money to ISRA.”

Westrop reported that government officials specifically authorized the release of “at least $115,000” of this grant even after learning that it was a designated terror organization.

World Vision evidently 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. That program sought to provide food, security, sanitation equipment, and health services to areas hard-hit by conflict in the Blue Nile region of Sudan.

A $723,405 grant was awarded to USAID. The next month, ISRA agreed to provide humanitarian services to parts of the Blue Nile Region for World Vision. Both organizations had worked together on various projects in 2013 and 2014.

It was discovered that ISRA was sanctioned by the U.S. after World Vision entered talks with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on a separate humanitarian project in Sudan. IOM performed routine vetting on World Vision and its partners and discovered ISRA’s sanctioned status. After obtaining confirmation, IOM rejected World Vision’s offer to collaborate.

World Vision’s legal department was notified of ISRA’s potential status as a sanctioned entity in September 2014 and they immediately stopped all payments to the organization while it investigated. After an inquiry by World VIsion, Treasury confirmed that ISRA was sanctioned and denied their request for a license to work with the organization, as that would be “inconsistent with OFAC policy.”

One month after that, World Vision submitted another request for a license to transact with ISRA to pay them $125,000 for services rendered. They feared legal consequences and potential expulsion from Sudan.

This is where the Obama administration entered the fray. On May 4, 2015, the State Department recommended OFAC grant World Vision’s request for the license to transact. The next day, OFAC granted the license to pay ISRA $125,000 for services rendered and later sent the non-profit a “cautionary letter” making it aware that its collaboration with ISRA appeared to have violated the Global Terrorism Sanction Regulations.

Ironically, the investigation “did not find any evidence that World Vision intentionally sought to circumvent U.S. sanctions by partnering with ISRA.”

“We also found no evidence that World Vision knew that ISRA was a sanctioned entity prior to receiving notice from Treasury,” the report adds. “However, based on the evidence presented, we conclude 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 U.S. taxpayer dollars to an organization with an extensive history of supporting terrorist organization [sic] and terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden.”

“Had World Vision employed the same due diligence and similar methods employed by IOM, taxpayer dollars would not have exchanged hands with an organization that is known to fund terrorist organizations,” the report said.

“World Vision has a duty to ensure that funds acquired from the U.S. government or donated by Americans do not end up supporting terrorist activity,” the report states. “Particularly concerning to this Committee is World Vision’s attempt to shift the blame to the federal government for their own inability to properly vet a subcontractor. A more robust and fundamentally sound system of screening and vetting is needed to restore the public’s trust that contributions made to World Vision are not funding illicit organizations.”

“Moreover, although we find no reason to doubt World Vision’s assertion that the funds in their entirety were used by ISRA for humanitarian purposes, that money inevitably aids their terrorist activities,” the report concludes.

World Vision said in a statement that it “takes our compliance obligations seriously and shares Sen. Grassley and the committee staff’s objective for good stewardship.”

“We appreciate the acknowledgment that the committee staff’s report to the chairman ‘found no evidence that World Vision knew that ISRA was a sanctioned entity prior to receiving notice from Treasury,’” it added. “Terrorism runs counter to everything World Vision stands for as an organization and we strongly condemn any act of terrorism or support for such activities.”

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