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US agency's refusal to investigate grant to terrorism linked group

2023 Jan 27, 20:33, Washington
US House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul (Photo Credit: ANI)

 Senior US House lawmaker Michael McCaul has said he is frustrated with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) due to its apparent refusal to investigate a government grant issued to Michigan-based Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), a non-profit group allegedly linked to terrorism, US based Magazine National Review reported.

Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a letter to United States Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Samantha Power, demanded a full review.

HHRD, a non-profit organisation, reportedly has ties to Jamaat-e-Islami, a violent extremist network that operates in South Asia. USAID in October 2021, awarded HHRD a grant for USD 1,10,000 to reimburse it for shipping costs related to its humanitarian aid work.

McCaul in the January 24 letter, 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, including coordination with the intelligence community, federal law enforcement, the State Department Counterterrorism Bureau, and the Department of Homeland Security."

According to National Review, this is not the first time that HHRD's alleged links to the terrorist group, which has existed since 1941, have come up. In 2019, Representatives Jim Banks, Chuck Fleischmann, and Randy Weber wrote to a US State Department official requesting an investigation into "the nexus of charitable networks and terrorist groups," such as Jamaat-e-Islami.

A 2017 conference organised by the HHRD in Pakistan was attended by terrorist groups. This shows HHRD's links to Jamaat-e-Islami, National Review reported.

According to National Review, McCaul in his letter said that his team first inquired about the grant in May of last year but USAID replied with an insubstantial response.

"It was clear that the agency had failed to take any action to investigate the allegations or suspend the award, despite having been provided detailed information by congressional staff months prior," McCaul wrote.

According to McCaul, one of the State Department briefers had only recently learned about the issue. McCaul also wrote that USAID told McCaul's staff that the matter was being taken up by the agency's inspector general.

USAID and HHRD did not respond to National Review's requests for comment.

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