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Obama Admin Knowingly Gave U.S. Taxpayer Money to Al-Qaeda Affiliate

A Sudanese man chants slogans in Khartoum, Sudan.

The Obama administration knowingly gave U.S. taxpayer money to an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Sudan, a Middle East think tank has reported.

In February 2014, according to the Middle East Forum (MEF), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) gave $200,000 total to the Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) as part of a USAID-authorized grant of $723,405 to World Vision -- an evangelical international charity working in Sudan. The funds were intended to “improve water, sanitation and hygiene and to increase food security in Sudan’s Blue Nile state.”

Stunningly, more than half of the money was transferred to ISRA after USAID had been told that it was a designated global terror entity on the U.S. sanctions list. At the time, ISRA's enormous international terror network was even known to the public, as it was often in the headlines.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the Khartoum-based agency as a terror-financing organization in September of 2004 because of its links to Osama bin Laden, his organization Maktab al-Khidamat (MK), and other terrorist groups including Hamas.

Independent sources confirmed to i24NEWS that USAID discontinued the funds "as soon as it became clear that ISRA was a proscribed group."

But shockingly, the U.S. Treasury "issued a special license permitting a one-time $125,000 transfer to ISRA" after the issue was brought to their attention.

A USAID official told MEF that World Vision had alerted it in November 2014 to ISRA's possible inclusion on the terror list. USAID reportedly then instructed World Vision to “suspend all activities with ISRA,” and gave the State Department, OFAC, and USAID’s Office of the Inspector General a heads-up. USAID and World Vision then waited to hear back from OFAC on whether ISRA was a designated terror organization or not:

USAID emails obtained by the Middle East Forum reveal that in January 2015, World Vision was growing unhappy while waiting for OFAC’s assessment. Mark Smith, World Vision’s senior director of humanitarian and emergency affairs, wrote to USAID, stating that the Islamic Relief Agency “had performed excellent work” for World Vision in the past, and that “putting contractual relationships in limbo for such a long period is putting a significant strain” on World Vision’s relationship with the Sudanese regime. Smith also revealed that World Vision had submitted a notice to OFAC indicating its “intention to restart work with [ISRA] and to transact with [ISRA]” if OFAC did not respond within a week.

World Vision’s statement stunned USAID officials, who complained that World Vision’s behavior “doesn’t make sense.” USAID official Daniel Holmberg emailed a colleague: “If they actually said that they wanted to resume work with ISRA, while knowing that it was 99% likely that ISRA was on the list then I am concerned about our partnership with them, and whether it should continue.”

On January 23, OFAC confirmed that ISRA was a sanctioned entity and denied World Vision “a license to engage in transactions with [ISRA].” Mark Smith and World Vision’s country program director in Sudan expressed their disappointment, stating that they were in discussions with ISRA as well as the Sudanese regime’s Humanitarian Aid Commission, which regulates the activities of international charities in Sudan.