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Donations used to fund militant, terror outfits

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 27: The majority of respondents in this week’s Arab Times online poll expressed concerns that donations made to private NGO’s and other charitable organisations in Kuwait were in turn being used to support militant and terrorist organisations.

Scepticism has been on the rise after the United States recently imposed sanctions on three suspected Kuwaitis, accusing them of raising money for Al Nusrah Front, an extremist group fighting in Syria. US officials believe that lax regulations have allowed fundraisers to set up small religious charities and canvass in mosques and other public venues; the accused Kuwaitis used social networks like Twitter to campaign for funds.

The US Treasury Department’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen described Kuwait as having a permissive environment for such funding and stated that a number of fundraisers were soliciting donations to fund extremist insurgents, and not to meet legitimate humanitarian needs.

The recipients of these funds are often terrorist groups, including al-Nusrah Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). “We really can’t be sure of where our money is going. It is terrifying to consider that the altruistic inclinations of Kuwaiti people could be so easily exploited towards propagating more violence.

There is a strong need for the government to provide stricter regulation for charitable organisations in order to ensure greater financial transparency”, a reader commented. However, the genuine humanitarian efforts of Kuwait have been significant.

The United Nations named Kuwait as an ‘international humanitarian center’, and His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as a ‘humanitarian leader’. The Kuwaiti government has played an active role in assisting conflictaffected countries, especially Syria. Anumber of respondents considered that money was being directed towards legitimate causes.

23% of respondents believed that donations went to the hungry and displaced and 13% held that money was given to children’s welfare. While another 8% of voters felt that donations were diverted towards emergencies, 3% felt that funds went towards the rebuilding of countries affected by war.

A slim 2% felt that NGO’s were assisting in the development of Third World countries while 1% chose science and medicine. “Kuwait has been very hands-on in setting up the donor’s conferences and pledging funds to Syria.

Even regular people have been mobilizing support for various causes so I’m very optimistic about the state of charity here,” a respondent shared. However 18% of respondents were more cynical and felt that charitable donations went into the pockets of organization members and 3% believed that resources were usurped by politicians. “Corruption and graft are not unfamiliar to Kuwait, so it is very likely that funds are embezzled for personal gain.

There is no way we can be a hundred percent sure that the money is being put to the best use. Even if it is not outright stealing, a lot can be lost through sheer mismanagement,” a voter shared.

By: Cinatra Fernandes Arab Times Staff

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