Militants hijacking charity funds for attacks: report
CHARITIES that send financial aid to trouble spots sometimes have the funds “hijacked” by militant groups to carry out attacks, an international counter-terrorism meeting was warned yesterday.
A report by Indonesian and Australian authorities detailed the risk faced by non-profit organisations. It also urged countries in the region to cooperate more closely to halt the flow of funds from militants, particularly from the Islamic State (IS).
“These are often very legitimate organisations who are sending money to trouble spots around the world to help civilians who are suffering,” Paul Jevtovic, head of Australia’s financial intelligence agency, told the meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali.
“Unfortunately the intelligence tells us that some of these funds do not get to their intended destination and are in fact hijacked by terrorist groups and used for propaganda and/or actually committing terrorist acts.”
The “unscrupulous nature” of terror cells meant that they would intercept funds intended for people in need and for hospitals, he added, without naming specific groups.
The warning came after an Israeli court last week charged the Gaza director of the World Vision non-governmental organisation with passing millions of dollars to the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas and its armed wing.
The US-based Christian aid organisation has said it has “no reason to believe” the allegations against Mohammed al-Halabi.
The report on terrorism financing in Southeast Asia and Australia noted two cases in Australia from the mid2000s that involved charities raising almost US$750,000 which was sent to foreign-based terror groups for organisational funding.
In Thailand some non-profit groups had diverted money to fund propaganda in the insurgency-torn south, where Muslim rebels seeking greater autonomy have been waging a campaign against the Buddhistmajority state, the report said.
The report urged countries to combat money flowing into the region to fund terror attacks. It noted that money for a deadly attack in Jakarta was reported to have come from IS fighters in the Middle East.
Southeast Asian governments – notably in Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia – and Australia have been increasingly concerned by the growing number of citizens heading to the Middle East to fight for IS.
The two-day counter-terrorism meeting began yesterday and was attended by ministers from more than 20 nations. –
Chief executive of the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) Paul Jevtovic (left) talks to the media during the International Meeting on Counter Terrorism in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, yesterday.