Islamic Relief Deutschland, the German chapter of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), listed the Islamic front charity IHH as an “implementation partner” for a €150,000 aid project within Syria in a 2013 press release, raising serious questions about IR-Deutschland’s willingness or competence to vet partner charities abroad.
The partnership is striking considering that the German interior ministry previously banned IHH from operating in Germany because it had contributed money to Hamas. A German federal court upheld that ban in 2012 although an agreement was later reach that allowed IHH to operate under certain conditions.
IHH instigated the violent, blockade-running, anti-Israeli Mavi Marmara flotilla in 2010, and it has worked in concert with the terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia. IHH’s accounts in the Netherlands were frozen by Dutch authorities in 2011. IHH was reported to have smuggled weapons to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood as early as 2012.
IRW itself has been banned from Israel because of its support for Hamas. The behaviors of IRW’s German affiliate may help to explain why Israel regards IRW as a threat.
Meanwhile, Al Qaeda has capitalized on the flow of international aid of all kinds to Syrian fighters. That aid includes significant support from Turkey, which has provided ongoing assistance to militants fighting Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and has allowed fighters to cross its border with Iraq to join ISIS. Western charities have a responsibility to carefully examine any partner charities in Turkey, Iraq, or Syria prior to sharing money and supplies with them, but this German revelation casts further doubt on the thoroughness of the due diligence conducted for these international relief efforts.
Islamic Relief USA, the American affiliate of IRW, has conducted several humanitarian relief operations in Syria over the last few years. From December 2012 to May 2013, IR-USA conducted a project which, according to their own website, “provided emergency aid to Syrians in need inside of Syria through Islamic Relief partner offices in Turkey” (emphasis mine). The national affiliation of those “partner offices” in Turkey is unclear since Turkey does not appear to have its own, permanent Islamic Relief chapter.
IRW’s official and current affiliates are located in the U.S., Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Mauritius, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K. IRW says it has field offices in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, but that its presence in Turkey is limited to “seasonal and emergency campaigns.”
Germany’s sizable Turkish immigrant community gives IR-Deutschland better connections and access than most international Islamic charities to the Turkish border.