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UNICEF’s Curious Moral Blindness

The Terror Finance Blog

By Ilan Weinglass

One has to wonder what the decision-making processes are in UNICEF. As has been reported elsewhere, in June the United Nations Children’s Fund, made two important financial decisions. The first was to refuse donations from Lev Leviev, the Russian-Israeli billionare, due to his support of construction projects in the West Bank. The second was to sign a memorandum of understanding with the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), to deliver charity services in Saudi Arabia.

Two branches of the IIRO, though not the Saudi branch, have been designated as terrorist entities by the Treasury Department. IIRO’s Phillipine and Indonesian branches were designated for “facilitating fundraising for al Qaida and affiliated terrorist groups” with the Phillipine branch described as “a source of funding for the al Qaida-affiliated ASG [Abu Sayyaf Group].” Indeed, according to Treasury, this branch was “founded sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s by Muhammad Jamal Khalifah, who is Usama bin Laden‘s brother-in-law and has been identified as a senior al Qaida member.” Further, and perhaps more sinister, the head of IIRO in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province “provided donor funds directly to al Qaida and is identified as a major fundraiser for the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).” Both the Phillipine and Indonesian branches are also listed by the U.N. itself for al Qaeda links.

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