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World

Senate Investigation reveals Obama Administration knowingly funnelled aid funds to terrorist affiliate

  • The Obama Administration sent public funds to a non-profit humanitarian agency, which improperly transacted with an organization that had previously been sanctioned over its ties to terrorist groups.
  • The probe revealed that World Vision funnelled rough $5 million to Maktab al-Khidamat, the predecessor to Al-Qaeda; adding that insufficient vetting practices led to such dangerous levels of ignorance.
Updated 02 Jan 2021

According to a recent report, the Obama Administration sent public funds to a non-profit humanitarian agency, which improperly transacted with an organization that had previously been sanctioned over its ties to terrorist groups.

This report, released by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, detailed that World Vision United States regularly transacted with the Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) in 2014, being unaware that the organization had been sanctioned by the United States over its ties to terrorism.

The probe revealed that World Vision funnelled rough $5 million to Maktab al-Khidamat, the predecessor to Al-Qaeda; adding that insufficient vetting practices led to such dangerous levels of ignorance.

Senator Grassley commented on the report that "World Vision works to help people in need across the world, and that work is admirable", adding that “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".

In 2018, the Middle East Forum's Islamist Watch revealed that the Obama Administration approved a $200,000 grant of taxpayer money to the ISRA, even after learning that it was a designated terror organization.

As detailed in the Senate report, World Vision submitted a formal grant application to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to carry out its Blue Nile Recovery Program in January 2014; with the program aiming to provide food security, sanitation equipment and health services to areas hardest-hit by conflict in the Blue Nile region of Sudan.

World Vision only discovered the sanctioned status of ISRA, after the Evangelical non-profit considered partnering with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on a separate humanitarian project in Sudan, and in performing a routine vetting of the organization's partners, reached out to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

It was also revealed that World Vision submitted a request for a temporary license to transact with ISRA, to pay the remaining $125,000 in services rendered, or in the aftermath of any potential legal consequences - a request which was approved by the Obama Administration, and later sent the non-profit a cautionary letter, making it aware that its collaboration with ISRA violated the Global Terrorism Sanction Regulations.

However, the report highlighted that the investigation "did not find any evidence that World Vision intentionally sought to circumvent U.S. sanctions by partnering with ISRA", but reiterated that World Vision’s system for vetting prospective sub-grantees as “borderline negligent” and says the organization “ignored elementary level investigative procedures.”