Washington: A US NGO based in Pakistan and receiving humanitarian aid from the US Agency for International Development is associated with designated terrorist organisations, an American lawmaker has alleged.
In a letter to USAID Administrator Samantha Power on January 24, Congressman Michael McCaul, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sought a suspension of the funding to the NGO pending a full and thorough review of these allegations.
“This award must immediately be suspended pending a full and thorough review of these accusations,” McCaul said.
The Congressman, in the letter, expressed deep concern that USAID received information from his office more than eight months ago regarding credible allegations that one of its grantees is associated with designated terrorist organisations.
In October 2021, USAID awarded USD 110,000 to Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) through the Ocean Freight Reimbursement Program. This award was made despite longstanding, detailed allegations that HHRD is connected to designated terrorist organisations, terror financiers, and extremist groups, he said.
In November 2019, three Members of Congress requested that the State Department review these alleged ties to terrorism in a public letter, he wrote.
“Please immediately personally review this grant to HHRD. I strongly urge you to pause this grant while you complete a thorough review of the allegations, to include coordination with the intelligence community, federal law enforcement, the State Department Counterterrorism Bureau, and the Department of Homeland Security,” McCaul said.
The HHRD, a top 4-Star rated USA NGO is also registered in Pakistan with the Ministry of Interior. It is present in all four provinces — Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan, in addition to Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
According to the allegations and media reports, some sponsors of HHRD events in Pakistan include Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), the charitable wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist outfit responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The US in 2016, had designated FIF as a terrorist organisation.
In 2019, several members of the US Congress sent a letter to the US State Department, calling for further investigations into the HHRD, highlighting Pakistani media reports that the NGO arranged a conference in Pakistan with both Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation and the Milli Muslim League, two branches of Lashkar-e-Taiba that are both designated as terrorist organisations by the US and the UN.
McCaul’s letter also raised concerns about the HHRD’s relationship with Al-Khidmat, the official charitable arm of Jamaat-e-Islami.