More than half of the UK’s donations to smaller charities working in Syria fall into the hands of ISIS and other Islamist groups, the London based anti-radicalisation think-tank Quilliam has claimed. Two charities who send aid convoys to the country are now being investigated by the Charities Commission over possible serious breaches of their charitable status. Both deny the claim.
The two charities are Children in Deen and Al-Fatiha Global, the latter which is the charity that helped organise the convoy that Alan Henning, the last Brit to be beheaded by ISIS, was travelling with, Newsweek has reported. Both are under investigation for the “most serious” level of breaches after the media linked the organisations to militant Islamic groups in Syria.
A spokesman for the charity commission said: “We do not have an ongoing monitoring process with each individual charity,” but the charities are subject to “regulatory checks”, he added. Organisations must declare an annual income of over £5,000 and pass a basic legal test to be registered as charities.
The two organisations deny the charges. Al-Fatiha has pointed out that it posted a statement on its website calling for Henning’s release before he was beheaded last month. However, in March of this year, pictures emerged showing Adeel Ali, the CEO of Al-Fatiha posing with two masked militants toting rifles, his arms around their shoulders.
In April, Al-Fatiha made a statement to CivilSociety.co.uk in April which read “We have not been involved in any form of terrorism, criminality or fighting as has been alleged in the media… We are confident that any inquiry will reach the same conclusion.”
And again earlier this year a suicide bomber named Abdul Waheed Majeed used a Children in Deen convoy to carry out a suicide bombing in Syria. The media manager for Children in Deen, Masood Ajaib denied the connection, saying that the organisation’s presence in Syria was of a “purely humanitarian” nature.
“When you take out the major charities like the British Red Cross and the Red Crescent, more than half of the ‘aid’ that goes out to Syria ends up with militant groups,” Haras Rafiq, head of outreach at the Quilliam Foundation told Newsweek.
“These are organisations which take advantage of well-intentioned people, giving money for what they think are humanitarian causes.
“The majority of this money comes from the UK and goes to ISIS. ISIS are the biggest beast in the region, so they can have their pick of resources on the ground,” Rafiq said, although other groups such as the al-Nusra Front, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, also benefit.
The British Red Cross has advised that money only be donated to organisations that are affiliated partners of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. Only those organisations “are among one of the only agencies able to work across the frontlines in Syria, ensuring aid reaches those most desperately in need of assistance,” a spokesperson said.
“All money donated to the British Red Cross Syria Crisis appeal stays within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and is channelled directly to beneficiaries through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), other national societies in Syria Crisis-affected countries, and the IFRC.
“Those who give to the British Red Cross Syria Crisis appeal can be confident that we take the issue of donor funds very seriously and are vigilant in making sure all donations reach those who are most in need,” he said.