Washington, DC: United States-based Pakistan-linked charity organizations collected funds in name of helping India in the Covid-19 crisis, however, the donated millions of dollars are likely to be used for “fomenting protests and sponsoring outright terror attacks”, according to a report.
In an elaborate report, DisInfo Lab uncovered the ‘Covid-19 Scam 2021’, which it says is “one of the worst scams in human history” in terms of the humanitarian cost as millions of dollars were stolen in the name of ‘Helping India Breath.’
As India witnessed a second devastating surge in Covid-19 cases, help came from all around the world. However, some organizations use the crisis to collect funds illegitimately in the name of charity.
The DisInfo Lab exposed several charity organizations, which managed to raise funds by exploiting India’s hard-earned goodwill.
These organizations have close ties with radical Islamists and terrorists’ organizations and are run in cahoots with the Pakistan army.
One such Islamic organization is the IMANA-Islamic Medical Association of North America. “Funds worth tens of crores donated by well-meaning people world over to help India in crisis – has been stolen. There is no accountability and in the present globalized world, no mechanism to ensure any accountability,” said the report.
The Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) is an Illinois-based medical relief organization that was formally established as Islamic Medical Association (IMA) in 1967, and subsequently renamed IMANA.
Unlike several other organizations, IMANA was rather opaque in its recent charity drive during the Covid crisis and has provided “scanty details” about the manner it has spent crores of funds it has collected.
The current chairman of IMANA is Dr Ismail Mehr, who has been the leader of the “Help India Breathe” project.
IMANA created a buzz last month with its fundraiser. It started the #HelpIndiaBreathe campaign on Instagram on April 27, 2021, and set an initial target of 1.8 crores.
It is important to note that IMANA has no office, brand, or representative in India. However, it did not stop them from organizing an aggressive fundraiser in the name of providing support to India.
According to the Disinfo Lab’s report, IMANA received huge amounts in a short span and frequently revised the target amount as soon as the previous target was met.
According to DisInfo Lab’s calculations based on the funds they collected in the specific time period, there was a time they were receiving donations at a speed of $100K per hour. The total amount, as per the calculations, can be anywhere between Rs.30 crore to Rs.158 crore. DisInfo Lab said, “Given that IMANA has almost zero transparency about the fund it collected, there is no way to ascertain the actual amount it might have received.”
During several interviews, Dr Ismail Mehr of IMANA made several dubious claims. He claimed to have purchased Medical Equipment worth $800,000 on May 7 that included 100k nasal cannulas, 40k masks, 450 oxygen concentrators. It never reached India.
They also claimed to have tied up with Air India for free shipment to Delhi. Another claim stated that they had elaborated a network of people and organizations working on the ground that included Hindu and Sikh volunteers. Another claim suggested they have tied up with India’s DRDO and the Ministry of Agriculture.
None of these claims could be verified from the information available in open source. Also, it is highly unlikely organizations like DRDO would tie up with a US-based organization with members from Pakistan-origin for any relief work in India or even help them to coordinate with people on the ground.
IMANA was not the only organization running fundraisers on the pretext of helping India. DisInfo Lab found at least 66 such campaigns on just one platform, Launch Good, DisInfo Lab said.
The organizations “mopped up” the crucial fund at a critical time which could have saved lives and “exploited” the goodwill that India and Indians have acquired the world over, said the report.
“Some of the major organizations that have collected funds on Launch Good include- ICNA Relief Canada, Human Concern International (Canada), Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), and Islamic Relief UK,” the report said.
Helping Hand for Relief and Development USA (HHRD) is the international front of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Relief USA. HHRD and ICNA are self-identified US charities of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jel) based out of Pakistan.
According to DisInfo Lab, In December 2017, HHRD organized a conference in Pakistan. Other organizations sponsoring the event included the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, the charitable wing of the Pakistani terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Several organizations with questionable background and no FCRA approval ran campaigns and collected funds. There were around 23 such organizations, and they managed to collect over $1.2 million with small fundraisers.
Reportedly ISNA and IMANA have links to terror organizations across the world. ISNA has been alleged to provide funds to Hamas. They have provided funds to Al-Khidmat Foundation, which is the ‘charity wing’ of JeI which has been funding Hamas.
IMANA also provides help to Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust (AMT), which is part of Pakistan’s Milbus’ military capital. It was issued for the personal benefit of the Pak Army fraternity. It is run by retired Army, Navy and Air Force personnel.
“Funds worth tens of crores donated by well-meaning people the world over to help India in crisis – have been stolen. There is no accountability and in the present globalized world, no mechanism to ensure any accountability,” the report read.
“Funds, which in the right hands would have saved so many lives. What is most tragic about the whole episode is that several of these organizations had no intention of doing even symbolic help to begin with,” it added.
This whole “farce” pulled out by the so-called charity organizations was not merely a financial fraud but was a crime against humanity at multiple levels, said the report.
The DisInfo lab suggested that the governments – from the USA to India – should take note of the terror-funding money-making machinery and provide some mechanism to ensure transparency from these groups.
“It is worth mentioning that FATF has already raised this concern that a lot of funding in the name of Covid is likely to go towards terror funding. Given the scale of the network of one set of organizations, the scale of total terror funding could only be imagined,” the report read. (ANI)