The Middle East Forum's ongoing investigation into the relationship between World Vision, a Christian aid charity, and Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA), a U.S. designated charity that supported Bin Laden, is discussed extensively in a recent report by Mindy Belz of World Magazine titled "Checking it Twice."
Belz, a globe-trotting reporter who has spent significant amounts of time on the ground in Sudan, as well as other parts of Africa and the Middle East, discusses the question of due-diligence expected of donors before giving to charities operating in conflict zones or terrorist heavy regions – a subject about which she is very familiar.
In addition to further discussing a number of issues previously raised by Middle East Forum reports, Belz's article highlights several new pieces of information provided to her by Forum investigators, specifically:
- It can now be proven that the World Vision/ISRA relationship, far from a brief, one-time transaction, lasted for at least four years, from 2011-2015, and maybe longer. Moreover, this relationship involved multiple projects and other funding sources, the full extent of which is still not known.
- World Vision's relationship with ISRA may have gone on after it informed the U.S. Government that the relationship had ceased. This is apparent from a World Vision job advertisement published in December 2015 - nearly a year after World Vision indicated their relationship with ISRA had ended - that explicitly discusses partnering with ISRA multiple times.
- ISRA is so close to the Sudanese regime, a state-sponsor of terrorism, that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir - the only sitting head of state in history to be indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court - attends ISRA's board of trustees' meetings in Khartoum, giving further evidence that the regime is manipulating western NGOs into funding bad actors.
Belz ends her piece by saying "Donors at home—and taxpayers—shouldn't have to submit to such pay-to-play schemes. Beyond glossy inducements to individual giving, they deserve better disclosure from groups like World Vision about funding sources and overseas partners."
We at MEF agree, and think that donors, and decisionmakers in Washington D.C., need to hold World Vision accountable.