By Caleb Stephen, Editor in Chief
(TRUTHJOURNALISM.COM) — In late 2016, the world’s largest “Christian” charity, World Vision, laid off its contractors in the Gaza Strip following allegations by Israel that an agency staff member had diverted tens of millions of dollars to Hamas’ military wing – which Israel has designated as an international terrorist organisation affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
In an August 29 letter handed to around 120 contractors at a meeting in Gaza, the $2.6-billion NGO said its bank accounts in Jerusalem had been frozen by Israeli authorities and it was no longer able to transfer money to Gaza, making it impossible to pay them.
“Due to the seriousness of the allegations laid against Mohammad el-Halabi, World Vision has suspended operations in Gaza,” the organisation said. “We are conducting a full review, including an externally conducted forensic audit.”
Halabi, director of World Vision’s Gaza branch, was detained at the Erez crossing in Israel as he was headed back to Gaza on his way home from “routine meetings,” several Israeli news outlets reported.
It is apparent that Halabi had infiltrated Hamas and was using his “humanitarian” mask as cover for his Islamist work, according to the prosecution’s June presentation in Beer Sheva District Court.
The prosecutor described him as a Hamas activist who has been using his high position in the charity to systematically divert millions of dollars to the military arm of Hamas, financing, among other things, construction of terror tunnels, the Jewish Press reported.
The indictment states Halabi joined Hamas’ armed wing Izzedin al-Qassam in 2004 and was handpicked in 2005 to infiltrate a major humanitarian organization so as “to be close to decision makers in a foreign organization, to be involved in the group and operate secretly to advance al-Qassam’s interests.”
The Israel Security Agency, also known as Shin Bet, accuses Halabi of joining World Vision and sending its funds to Hamas’ military wing, some of it to fund construction of military-related tunnels and to purchase weapons, Haaretz reported.
The Israeli intelligence agency alleges that a sum of $80,000 contributed by British donors to assist needy families and support civilian projects in Gaza was used to build a Hamas position in the Gaza town of Beit Hanun, to pay Hamas activists’ salaries and bonuses to members who had fought against Israel in the 2014 war, according to the Haaretz article.
The indictment includes 12 counts of security violations, including passing information to the enemy, membership in a terror organization, funding terrorism, participation in an unlawful association, and contact with foreign agents.
Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since Palestinian elections were held in 2006.
Hamas is the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization whose goal is to inspire Muslims worldwide to return to the roots of their faith as spelled out in the Quran and create a global caliphate under Shariah law.
More serious allegations of terrorist aid infiltration
This technique of infiltration is quite commonly utilised by the Muslim Brotherhood organization to hijack various institutions — especially NGO’s — until they are brought totally under their control, or are at least controlled through manipulation.
In 2005, numerous UK NGO’s were caught allegedly posing as charities in order to bankroll terrorist activities. It is alleged that millions of pounds that were donated by British and other European charities to help the Palestinian poor “were unwittingly diverted to fund terror and support the families of suicide bombers,” according to a UK Independent report.
The report further stated: “Ahmed Salatna, 43, a Hamas activist from the West Bank town of Jenin, was remanded in custody by a military court charged with distributing €9m (£6.2m) for such purposes over the past nine years. The recipients are alleged to have included the family of a young man who blew himself up at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, killing 15 people and wounding 107. Hamas and Islamic Jihad acknowledged responsibility.”
The organizations reportedly implicated in this illegal activity include the UK-based charities Human Appeal International and Interpal, as well as the Charitable Committee for Supporting Palestine (CBSP) in France, the Charitable Association for Supporting Palestinian People (ABSPP) in Italy and the Al-Aqsa Foundation in various parts of Europe. All form part of the Charity Coalition which allegedly funnels monies raised to Saltana, who in turn distributes the funds to terrorist organizations.
On January 22, JPost reported: “The Finnish organization CMI doled out $18,177 to fund a meeting of the EU and US classified terrorist entity Hamas with the Palestinian Fatah party in Geneva, Switzerland in December, according to a Friday report in the Finland daily Kirkko ja kaupunki.”
On March 21, the Times of Israel reported that The Shin Bet security service accused two Palestinian men of funneling Gaza reconstruction funds from Turkish charities to the Hamas terrorist group. One of the men has been arrested and investigations are ongoing.
The allegations as detailed by the Israel Security Agency
An Israeli government report released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states the following allegations about Hamas’ exploitation of World Vision in Gaza to support its terrorist activities:
- World Vision is a respected global humanitarian aid organization operating in over 100 countries, with a budget of $2.6 billion (USD) and 46,000 employees.
- World Vision is one of the largest aid organizations in the world and operates in collaboration with the UN.
- World Vision has operated in Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and the Gaza Strip since 1975.
The extent of World Vision funds channeled to the terrorist/military arm of Hamas
- 60% of World Vision’s annual budget for the Gaza Strip was diverted by Hamas operative Mohammed El-Halabi to Hamas (approximately $7.2 million/year).
- 40% of the funds designated for civilian projects ($1.5 million/year) were given in cash to Hamas combat units.
- Monies designated for the needy in Gaza ($4 million/year) were diverted to Hamas for the construction of terror tunnels and the purchase of weapons.
Terrorist/military projects build with World Vision funds
- A Hamas military base (code-named “Palestine”) was built using the aid organization’s money. $80,000 received from the United Kingdom went to construction costs of the base, paid in cash, while salaries were paid to terrorists who worked in the construction of the base.
- The aid organization’s funds were diverted to finance the digging of terror tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel. [Note: These are not smuggling tunnels; they are designed to carry out attacks on civilian communities in Israel and Israeli security forces.]
- Hamas received building materials from the aid organization that it used for its military facilities and terror tunnels, including iron rods, fences, greenhouse covers [used for camouflage purposes] and pipes.
- During the Morsi regime in Egypt, El-Halabi diverted tens of thousands of dollars of the aid organization’s funds to purchase weapons in the Sinai, for Hamas.
Food designated for the needy was transferred directly to Hamas military units in northern Gaza
- 2,500 food packages worth $100 each went to terrorists [total value $250,000].
- 3,300 packages of cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products worth $80 each were also given to Hamas units [total value $264,000].
How the money was transferred to Hamas
- Some of the money raised to support injured children in Gaza was diverted to the families of Hamas terrorists, by fraudulently listing their children as wounded.
- Money designated for psychological support, education and health in Gaza ($2 million/year) was used to pay the families of Hamas terrorists.
- Part of the aid organization’s donations was transferred in cash and recorded fraudulently as aid to needy children.
- Monies were paid out as salaries to Hamas terrorists and activists, who were registered as employees of the aid organization when in fact they never worked for World Vision.
- Costs for legitimate infrastructure projects were inflated, with the difference going to Hamas.
- Straw companies – two farmers’ associations and a fake charity for the benefit of the injured – were established with false registers to launder money.
- Unemployment payments were diverted to Hamas terrorists. El-Halabi arranged for one-third of the allowances World Vision transfers to Gaza for the unemployed to go to members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The terrorists also received a larger allowance (NIS 1500 instead of NIS 1250, or $300).
- Using lists of fictitious beneficiaries, $2 million/year designated as aid for farmers was diverted to Hamas activists. El-Halabi reported a larger sum than that actually transferred to the farmers to World Vision. The difference was diverted to Hamas.
- Project costs were inflated. For example, World Vision invests in many agricultural projects in northern Gaza, one of which involves the construction of 500 greenhouses and the preparation of land (495 acres) for agriculture. El-Halabi reported to the charity that the cost was $1,000 per quarter acre, while the real cost was $700. The difference – $300 per quarter acre – was transferred to Hamas.
Now the Times of Israel, as well as numerous other outlets, are reporting that Australia’s investigations into the allegations has found zero evidence millions of dollars of taxpayer money were diverted to Hamas by Mohammed Halabi.
The trial is still ongoing in Israel.
World Vision has been caught in scandals before
In June of 2009, it is alleged that World Vision was caught in the middle of a fraud case in Liberia. Three former employees were accused of stealing food and materials intended for helping people recovering from the civil war, and then sold the products for profits in local markets.
In February 2012, Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center that aims to “bankrupt terrorism” through the courts, alleged that World Vision Australia was indirectly distributing more than $1 million of Australian taxpayers’ money to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
But World Vision Australia, which distributes funds in Gaza from AusAID, the government’s foreign aid agency, denied the charges.
However, Shurat HaDin stood by its allegations, releasing a dossier of “conclusive evidence” to World Vision with an ultimatum to the Christian charity: implement a complete cessation of funding by October 15 or face legal action in the Federal Court of Australia for breaching the Charter of the United Nations Act.
Shurat HaDin claimed the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, which World Vision has been funding since 2005 to help thousands of Palestinian farmers in Gaza, “was established by, is controlled by, shares assets with and operated in concert with the PFLP.”
Tim Costello, the chief executive of World Vision Australia, said his organization had “no interest in supporting terrorism.”
“I can assure you that if such evidence [of ties to the PFLP] is forthcoming, we will not hesitate to act swiftly upon it,” Costello wrote to Shurat HaDin’s lawyers.
Not only did corruption occur in foreign countries, but dishonesty is allegedly prevalent in the U.S. branch of World Vision.
One commentor wrote: “I used to work for World Vision…in fundraising actually I got to personally keep 75% of everything I collected from my donors as my ‘salary’.”
It is quite interesting why people fundraising for those in need get to keep such a large percentage of donations received.
Suspicions of World Vision’s anti-Israel bias
Below is an excerpt from an in-depth article raising World Vision’s anti-Israel bias:
Take a look at the organization’s website and see for yourself. In particular, you need to see World Vision’s differential approach to dealing with the impact of violence on children in the Middle East.
When it comes to Syria, the organization talks about the suffering children endure as a result of that country’s civil war in a non-political and non-polemical manner.
It describes and laments the suffering inflicted on children in Syria but omits any reference to the perpetrators. It does not name and shame the perpetrators in any way.
About the only thing you will learn about the civil war in Syria from World Vision materials is that it began in 2011, harms children and that World Vision needs money to help these children. Fair enough.
World Vision takes a decidedly different approach, however, when it comes to dealing with the suffering of children in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza.
When publicizing its work in these areas, World Vision rarely misses an opportunity to blame Israel for the suffering it confronts. Interestingly enough, World Vision materials rarely make any mention, of the role Hamas has played in putting children in danger.
In World Vision materials, the alleged villainy of the Jewish state is shoved in the reader’s face without hesitation and without shame.
After reading World Vision’s materials about its work in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, people would have every reason to think that Israel, the Jewish state is a monstrous pariah state that intentionally murders children despite the fact that it has worked assiduously to avoid civilian casualties.
And after reading the organization’s publicity about its work in Syria, people would know bad things are happening to children in that country, but have absolutely no idea of who is responsible for the atrocities that are taking place there.
The difference between World Vision’s approach to violence in Syria and Israel is so stark that it is impossible to believe that the people who run the organization from their offices in Federal Way, Washington do not see what is happening.
People like Kevin Jenkins, the organization’s international president, simply do not get put in charge of multibillion-dollar charities without knowing what is happening in the organization’s they lead.
The question is whether or not the organization’s donors know what is happening.
Fortunately, it’s all there on World Vision’s websites. The donors can check for themselves.
Finally, here is another in-depth article on Arutz Sheva explaining why World Vision is a Christian charity on an anti-Israel mission.
So did World Vision fund Hamas?
Looking at the evidence at face value, everything that is available to us right now seems to indicate that World Vision was indeed funding Hamas in a deceitful manner. However, as I mentioned before, the trial in Israel is currently ongoing. It seems the Israeli investigation is more thorough than the Australian investigation but we will see what becomes of that.
As I also mentioned in this report, this is not the first time that such allegations of this nature have been brought against World Vision so if these current allegations are found to be true, then there’s really no surprises.
Like I also mentioned, World Vision has a very strong anti-Israel bias and is in support of anti-Israel campaigns, so it is not hard to imagine that funds earmarked for the organization’s operations in the Gaza Strip may ‘indirectly’ end up in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Hamas terror group.