A recent report by The New Yorker has exposed how the United Arab Emirates (UAE) financed a smear campaign against Islamic Relief Worldwide, a UK-based charity. The campaign aimed to link officials from the charity to the Muslim Brotherhood and violent extremists. The report highlights the involvement of Alp Services, a Swiss private intelligence firm, in orchestrating the campaign and making false allegations.
Financing the Smear Campaign: The UAE’s Role
The New Yorker report reveals that the UAE provided funding for a smear campaign against Islamic Relief Worldwide. Alp Services, a Geneva-based private intelligence firm headed by Mario Brero, proposed the campaign to the UAE with the intention of tarnishing the reputation of the charity.
Targeting Islamic Relief Worldwide: Antisemitism Allegations
In its efforts to discredit Islamic Relief Worldwide, Alp Services attempted to link Heshmat Khalifa, a member of the charity’s board of trustees, to terrorism. When this attempt failed, Alp delved into Khalifa’s social media history and discovered antisemitic posts he shared after Israel’s 2014 offensive in Gaza. The firm shared this information with the Times of London, which subsequently ran stories on Khalifa’s posts.
Fallout and Repercussions: Impact on Islamic Relief Worldwide
Following the publication of the antisemitic posts, Heshmat Khalifa resigned from the charity, and Islamic Relief Worldwide’s chief executive condemned the posts as unacceptable. However, the charity faced relentless media attacks and scrutiny from government bodies, including the US State Department, the UK’s Charity Commission, and Sweden’s International Development Agency. Germany also ceased funding to the organization, while banks threatened to halt fund transfers to crisis zones.
Clearing Its Name: Efforts by Islamic Relief Worldwide
Islamic Relief Worldwide invested significant resources to address the allegations and repair its reputation. The charity undertook outside audits, suppressed false information in internet search results, and sought to restore its relationships with governments. An independent commission, led by Dominic Grieve, confirmed that Islamic Relief Worldwide was a highly effective charity free from institutional antisemitism.
Unanswered Questions: Motives of the UAE
The report raises questions about the UAE’s motives in undermining Islamic Relief Worldwide. The UAE listed the charity as a “terror” group in 2014, accusing it of being a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a charge that the charity denies. The article highlights the lack of credible evidence linking the charity to any Islamist movement.
The revelation of the UAE’s financing of a smear campaign against Islamic Relief Worldwide has shed light on the unjust treatment faced by the charity. The false allegations and media attacks have hindered its humanitarian work, causing harm and delays. While efforts have been made to clear the charity’s name, questions remain regarding the motives behind the UAE’s actions. It is crucial for the international community to recognize the vital work of organizations like Islamic Relief Worldwide and ensure that they are not unjustly targeted in the future.