Barack Obama’s administration knowingly transferred U.S. taxpayer dollars to an al-Qaeda affiliate in Sudan, according to an investigation by i24News and the Middle East Forum.
The money was sent through the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID.
And it was given to the Islamic Relief Agency, ISRA, which has been designated around the world as a terror group.
The Obama administration gave taxpayer money to an Al Qaeda affiliate in Sudan — with most of the funds transferred after officials became aware of the mistake, a joint i24NEWS-Middle East Forum investigation reveals.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) gave $200,000 to the Khartoum-based Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA), a designated global terror entity placed on the US sanctions list over its financial support for Osama Bin Laden and other terrorist groups including Hamas.
Independent sources have confirmed to i24NEWS that the funds were stopped as soon as it became clear that ISRA was a proscribed group — but that the US Treasury nonetheless issued a special license permitting a one-time $125,000 transfer to ISRA once the mistake was known.
In February 2014, USAID authorized a grant of $723,405 to World Vision, an evangelical international charity, for a humanitarian project in the Blue Nile region of Sudan. According to the funding agreement, $200,000 of that grant was designated as a sub-award for the Islamic Relief Agency for the purposes of humanitarian relief for displaced persons.
Ten years earlier, however, the George W. Bush administration had designated the worldwide network of ISRA as a global terrorist entity for its financial support for Osama Bin Laden and others.
The US Department of the Treasury announced in October 2004 that ISRA was “formerly affiliated” with Maktab Al-Khidamat, the precursor organisation of Al Qaeda, and that its international offices “provided direct financial support” for Osama Bin Laden.
The US Treasury also singled out ISRA for “serving as a conduit to Hamas” in an unnamed European country during the Second Intifada of the early 2000’s, raising funds and transferring them to the Palestinian territories for terror attacks against Israelis.This designation blocked all of ISRA’s US-based assets and criminalized the provision of funds or support to any of its offices.
ISRA was placed on the “Specially Designated Persons List” maintained by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, and was also marked as prohibited or restricted on the US government database of service providers.
Under the funding agreement with USAID, World Vision was required to verify that ISRA was not on the sanctions list. World Vision told i24NEWS that it searched the blocked parties list for “Islamic Relief” in Sudan, and no results came up.
The database in fact lists ISRA as based in Missouri, registered at the address of its former American offices.
It is not clear why USAID failed to check that ISRA was not on the sanctions list. An official said USAID partners have the “primary responsibility” to run those checks, but USAID “did not identify ISRA as an organization subject to US sanctions when it made the initial award”.
World Vision says in May 2014, it applied to the Treasury to renew its registration as a charity working in Sudan, listing ISRA as a sub-grantee. It says the Treasury approved the renewal in August “without any comments or questions” about ISRA.
In November 2014, World Vision alerted USAID that its local partner might be the same Islamic Relief Agency that appears on the Treasury’s sanctions list.
World Vision suspended transactions with ISRA while USAID informed the State Department and the Treasury.USAID confirmed with the Treasury that ISRA “appears to be the same entity” as the one on the sanctions list, and then wrote to World Vision in February 2015 ordering it to suspend any further transfers to ISRA.
“ISRA should never have been a USAID sub-awardee,” said the USAID official, adding that the Agency took “immediate corrective action”, including instituting new guidelines requiring staff to screen organisations receiving assistance by checking the sanctions list.
In May 2015, however, the Office of Foreign Assets Control issued World Vision a license authorizing it to complete a one-time transfer of $125,000 to ISRA in Khartoum.
That sum included $115,000 owed for humanitarian work that World Vision says “was verified to have already been completed under the grant” from USAID.
The revelation means that Obama administration officials knowingly authorized the transfer of US taxpayer dollars to an organisation on the government’s own terror financing blacklist.
The remainder of the $125,000, said the USAID official, was “for an unrelated funding arrangement between Irish Aid and World Vision”. …
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