“Aid Convoys” Under the Spotlight
This piece, written by the Director of Stand for Peace, was originally published at the Gatestone Institute
The Charity Commission has repeatedly issued warnings that charity “aid convoys” are being exploited by British jihadists who want passage to Syria. But are these charities really such innocent actors?
The British suicide bomber and jihadist, Abdul Waheed Majeed, did not arrive in war-torn Syria by himself. He was part of an “aid convoy” organized by British charity, Children in Deen. Although British aid convoy charities deny purposely ferrying would-be jihadists to Syria, a closer look suggests that these so-called humanitarians are not as innocent as they might like us to believe.
Children in Deen, is in fact — along with two other “aid convoy” charities, the Abu Faisal Trust and One Nation — funding projects in Gaza run by the Al-Falah Benevolent Society, which, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, is one of “Hamas’s charitable societies.” Al-Falah is managed by Ramadan Tamboura, whom Ha’aretz newspaper describes as “a well-known Hamas figure.”
Fundraising events organized by Children in Deen have included speakers such as Zahir Mahmood, who claims that, “Hamas are not terrorists. They’re freedom fighters.” Mahmood also discourages Muslims from integrating with British society and rebukes those who “give preference to our nationality over our Islamic identity.”
Radical preachers frequently appear at aid convoy fundraisers. On the May 30, the Global Aid Trust will be hosting a fundraising event for its aid convoys to Syria. The main speaker featured at the event is Jalal ibn Saeed, an American Islamist preacher who has lived in Britain since the 1990s. Saeed has claimed, “We selfishly live like the Jews, who only care about themselves.” Additionally, Saeed glorifies death and has expressed praise for the Taliban.
The other announced speaker is Musa Adnan, a “volunteer coordinator” for the Convivencia Trust, an Islamist charity. The Trust’s officials have voiced praise for Hitler and described Shia Muslims as “donkeys of Jews.”
This event is not the first time the Global Aid Trust has promoted extremist speakers. On February 9, Global Aid Trust organized a “charity fundraising event for Syria” at the East London Mosque, with the Islamist preachers Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari and Suliman Gani. Al-Kawthari supports the killing of adulterers and encourages Muslims to travel and fight overseas. Gani is a vocal supporter of Aafia Siddiqui, a convicted terrorist described by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller as “an al-Qaeda operative and facilitator.”
In addition, the Global Aid Trust planned a gender-segregated fundraiser at the East London Mosque for May 5, featuring guest speakers Abu Salahudeen, who has encouraged jihad against the West; and Imran ibn Mansur, who has also expressed support for convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui.
Other “aid convoy” charities are no different. The Aid for Syria convoy, for instance, is an initiative of three charities: Al Fatiha Global, Aid4Syria and One Nation. The convoy’s trucks have been named after the terrorist Aafia Siddiqui.
Last November, the Aid for Syria convoy held a fundraising event entitled “Ummah, Wake Up and Rise.” Speakers at this event included Shaykh Zahir Mahmood, who has described Hamas as “freedom fighters;” and Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay inmate who has since been arrested on terrorism charges, after returning from a visit to Syria with an aid convoy.
Yet another charity, the Global Aid Project (not connected to the Global Aid Trust) has also organized fundraising events with extremist speakers, such as Yvonne Ridley, an Islamist convert and outspoken supporter of the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah; Abu Usama Ad-Dhabi, who advocates the murder of apostates and homosexuals, and claims that women are “incomplete, deficient;” and Ajmal Masroor, who claims the American intelligence services orchestrated the deadly Mumbai attacks in 2008. Phone numbers listed to the Global Aid Project fundraisers belong to activists from the Islamic Education and Research Academy, a Salafi extremist group whose officials have incited hatred against Jews, have been banned from entering Britain and have called for the killing of adulterers.
The Charity Commission is currently investigating nine British charities working in Syria. As reported by Gatestone in April, supporters of Al Qaeda groups in Syria openly discuss receiving financial aid from British charities. Although a number of British newspapers have warned that aid convoys can be exploited for the purposes of terrorism, the media has largely ignored the extremist agenda promoted by the charities themselves.
As extremist preachers are employed by aid convoy charities to recruit and fundraise, it should be of little surprise, then, that the occasional aid convoy volunteer blows himself up. Once again, the line between non-violent, “humanitarian” extremism and violent extremism seems increasingly thin.