Flip side: UNICEF partners with group linked to al-Qaeda and the TalibanOn Saturday night, I reported that UNICEF has refused to accept donations from Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev because Leviev has financed the construction of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria. Here's the flip side of that story.
Fox News reports that UNICEF is accepting money from the Islamic International Relief Organization, a 'charity' with connections to al-Qaeda and the Taliban (Hat Tip: IMRA).
UNICEF has signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a Saudi charity of massive scope that keeps branches in more than 20 countries and has over 100 offices worldwide.Now the UN is arguing that the Saudi branch isn't the same as the Indonesian and Philippine branches. And since it's 'our friends the Saudis,' the United States has apparently agreed to look the other way.
According to UNICEF, it will be teaming with the charity’s domestic Saudi branch to “promote children’s rights, health, equality and education,” in the oil-rich kingdom — but the organization has been doing more than just charity work.
The U.S. Treasury Department has designated the IIRO’s branches in the Philippines and Indonesia as terrorist entities for funding and supporting terrorist groups that have killed hundreds in East Asia. The Philippine branch was founded by Usama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Muhammad Jamal Khalifah, and has long had ties to Al Qaeda.
The U.N. itself says that both the Indonesian and Philippine branches of IIRO are tied to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and has singled them out for an asset freeze, arms embargo and travel ban on members of the groups.
According to Chris de Bono, UNICEF’s chief of media, “UNICEF does not and will not engage with” the two East Asian branches. Its new partnership is with the main Saudi branch only, and UNICEF will coordinate relief primarily for children living within Saudi Arabia, de Bono said.But are they really separate entities? According to Eye on the UN's Anne Bayefsky and the US Treasury Department, apparently not.
The U.S. government also noted the distinction between the head office and the international branches.
“We are monitoring the situation closely, but we also understand the difference between the IIRO main headquarters and its branches,” Carolyn Vadino, deputy spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., wrote in an e-mail to FOX News.
“It is the two branches in question that are designated and have ties to terrorists and at this time we have been assured that they are separate entities,” Vadino wrote.
“We have to look a lot harder at whether or not an organization that’s headquartered in one country is really disconnected from operations which bear the same name in other countries and are referred to as branches,” said Anne Bayefsky, senior editor of Eye on the U.N., a watchdog group.But as Bayefsky points out, the UN itself has no definition of terrorism. Only in the crazy world of the UN could the IIRO be Kosher and Lev Leviev treif (non-Kosher).
According to the Treasury Department, the head of the IIRO’s Eastern Province branch has been directly funding the two terror-tied branches — straight from his office in Saudi Arabia.
Abd Al Hamid Sulaiman Al-Mujil, who runs the Eastern Province branch, has been called the “million dollar man” for his support of Islamic militant groups, and the Treasury Department says he has provided donor funds directly to Al Qaeda.
According to UNICEF, there isn’t yet a financial relationship with the IIRO, but joint programs launched in the future could change that. That has some critics worried about a potential for money to make its way into the wrong hands.
“The risks involved in funding terror are sufficiently great that UNICEF officials and other U.N. officials who accredit this organization are called upon to assure themselves that there are no ties,” said Bayefsky.