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Obama Admin awarded $200,000 grant to Al Qaeda-linked group

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
July 30, 2018

A think tank’s investigation revealed that the Obama Administration supported a Sudan-based group linked to Al Qaeda.

A $200,000 grant was approved by the Obama Administration and awarded to the group, which the U.S. identified as a financier of terror groups just years prior, Fox News recently reported.

The grant was awarded in 2014 to the Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA), which was designated a terror-group financier a decade earlier. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control made the designation in 2004.

The taxpayer-funded grant was funneled through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

It issued a $723,405 grant to the World Vision Inc. charity to “help provide humanitarian aid, including emergency food, water, sanitation and hygiene services, to displaced people affected by the ongoing conflict in Sudan.”

However, $200,000 of those funds were appropriated to the ISRA in March 2014. It wasn’t until November 2014 that USAID discovered the ISRA was on a block list within the Treasury Department.

“USAID directed World Vision to suspend all activities with ISRA, and not to engage in further transactions with the organization,” a USAID official told Fox News.

Sam Westrop, a member of the Middle East Forum, penned a story for the National Review in which he explained the group’s findings on the grant.

“More stunningly, government officials specifically authorized the release of at least $115,000 of this grant even after learning that it was a designated terror organization,” Westrop wrote.

The funds were released in May 2015, months after discovering ISRA’s designation. Inside pressure from the USAID reportedly permitted the payment to go through, for fears of jeopardizing the program if the commitment was not followed.

The ISRA had direct connections to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, however.

The Treasury Department said ISRA officials assisted in efforts to “relocate [bin Laden] to secure safe harbor for him.” The group also raised money for suicide bombings carried out by Hamas.

Westrop wrote: “Obama-administration officials knowingly approved the transfer of taxpayer dollars to an al-Qaeda affiliate, and not an obscure one but an enormous international network that was often in the headlines.”

“How was this prominent terror funder initially approved to receive American taxpayer funds ten years after it had been placed on the ‘Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons’ terror list?” he added.

Last week, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told Fox News: “As this occurred under the prior administration, the current Secretary of the State, Secretary of Treasury and USAID Administrator had no involvement in decisions surrounding this award or subsequent license.”

The USAID official said that officials overseeing agreements have since received additional training to improve screening of grant awardees.