The Connection between Swedish Aid and Hamas Institutions

Sweden's taxpayers are funding organizations that have names like Islamic Relief, but promote war and terror instead of welfare and peace.

Tobias Petersson,

OpEds Tobias Petersson
Tobias Petersson
INN:TP

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), which comes under the Swedish foreign ministry, has for several years cooperated with the organization Islamic Relief (IR). According to the SIDA documentation, SIDA renewed its agreement with IR last year giving the international organization more than 59 million SEK(6,8 million USD) for various aid projects.

However IR is not only an organization associated with aid. It is also associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and with funding terror organizations, and therefore terror-listed by the United Arab Emirates since last year. In 2006 the Israeli authorities were notified of  IR’s terror connections, resulting in the arrest of IR's project manager at that time. Iyaz Ali. Ali confessed that he was in contact with the Hamas and had transferred funds to organizations linked to Hamas.

Since June, 19, 2014 IR has been forbidden to work from within Israel, including Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"). Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in a statement, that IR is a source of funds for Hamas and that Israel has no intention of allowing it to operate and assist terrorist activity against Israel.  According to the Israeli Foreign ministry, IR's activities in Judea and Samaria and Gaza were carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives. The intensive activities of these associations have been designed to further Hamas’s ideology among the Palestinian Arab population, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs states.


IR's activities in Judea and Samaria and Gaza were carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives.
After the Israeli ban, IR last year commissioned an “independent investigation” of its office departments and activities in the Palestinian "territories". The investigation found no evidence of links to Hamas. However, the investigation took place long after the accusations against the organization were publicized and did not cover the entire international organization.

Criticism against the IR has also been made by the Gatestone Institute, a New York-based think tank, revealing that current Islamic Relief Worldwide board members have links to anti-Semitic and Islamist movements.

In the IR's aid project Emergency Cash-for-Work, which was funded by SIDA between 2008-2014 with over 32 million SEK (3,69 USD), internships for unemployed academics were arranged in Gaza institutions and organizations. Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), founded by Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, is one of the institutions that has benefited from these unemployed academics. To date, the university is governed by Hamas members and activists.

At IUG, Hamas developed its Qassam rockets and the campus store sells assorted Hamas propaganda and DVD movies that pay tribute to terrorism. Additionally, televised anti-Semitic plays have taken place at the university. Sixteen of the teachers and lecturers at the university are elected Hamas politicians and many of the Hamas elite have either lectured or studied at IUG.

To top it off, the internationally notorious, anti-Semitic Islamic preacher Yusuf al Qaradawi, who advocates for terror attacks against Israeli civilians (including babies), has become IUG's own Honorary Doctor.

In other words: Sweden has provided a labor force for a university that is a terrorist and anti-Semitic stronghold for Hamas, and has paid for it. Swedish tax money has paid the wages of academics in universities like IUG, is supposed to help hospitals and institutions in local municipalities.  Instead of using that money for job creation and true peace efforts for the people in Gaza, Hamas has used it on weapons and terror tunnels.

147 organizations and institutions in Gaza have benefited from the Swedish-funded labor force, according to SIDA’s documentation. However, there are only a few of these institutions and organizations named in SIDA’s documentations on the project. SIDA lacks a complete list of organizations and institutions benefiting from the project. Thus, it is conceivable that more institutions and organizations closely associated with Hamas have benefited from the labor paid by SIDA funds.

SIDA’s way of handling its funds seems very irresponsible and what is truly disappointing is that NGO-Monitor, a research institute that monitors aid work and NGOs in the Palestinian territories, has called for SIDA’s attention to the links between IR and Hamas, yet the Swedish authority seems to ignore the information. International and Swedish media should thoroughly investigate where the aid goes and how it affects goals like peace building.

SIDA must adopt a new firm policy and approach against partners accused of supporting terrorism. SIDA should immediately cease all its cooperation with IR because of the organization's links to institutions and organizations that are strongly associated with Hamas, which the Swedish government has designated a terror organization. It is time for SIDA to take responsibility for its actions.

Tobias Petersson is spokesperson for Perspective on Israel (PPI)




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