LeT and JeM Affiliates Exploit Floods to Raise Money, Gain Support
Beginning in August 2011, monsoon rains hit large swaths of Pakistan – in Sindh, Balouchistan, and Punjab – causing devastating flooding for the second consecutive year in the country. According to recent reports, the floods have affected 8.9 million Pakistanis and destroyed 1.5 million homes in Sindh alone. Over 400 people have been killed as a result of the floods, including 107 children. Currently, about 660,000 people are living in refugee camps.
After last year’s floods, the Pakistani government was (relatively) better prepared to deal with this year’s natural disaster (see article in Dawn on improved institutional and infrastructural preparedness; also see National Disaster Management Authority response in Sindh here and here).
However, despite these improvements there remain serious deficiencies in the delivery of humanitarian aid services, which are being filled by several different types of organizations including national and international NGOs and charitable organizations. As noted in other posts on this blog, illicit charities affiliated with several of Pakistan’s violent extremist organizations have become adept at exploiting the humanitarian deficiencies of the Pakistani government as opportunities to raise funds and cultivate sympathy and support among local audiences. This year’s floods are no different.
Since the beginning of this year’s floods, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) and Al-Rahmat Trust - charitable front organizations for Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, respectively – are using the floods as a means to raise funds and cultivate local support for their groups. Their activities on the ground have included providing emergency healthcare, food items, shelter, and trafficking individuals from flood affected-areas to safe camps. FIF in particular has been especially adept at using the internet, specifically its website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel to advertise its activities to a broader, more global target audience across Pakistan and the Pakistani Diaspora community around the world for raising funds and gaining support.
Let’s take a look at some of FIF and JeM’s online efforts.
The flyer below was posted on the FIF website and calls on Pakistanis to donate money to the efforts of FIF. In an effort to solicit support, the flyer cites a verse from the Quran that states, “He who saves one man’s life, it is as if he has saved entire humanity.” Also included on the flyer are the phone number and address of the group as well as its email address for those interested in making a donation.
The two flyers below are from JeM’s online weekly magazine al-Qalam. The first flyer provides a list of humanitarian items and their respective costs. For example, the flyer says that weekly rations for a family can be fulfilled with a donation of Rs. 1,700, beds for winter cost Rs. 2,000, new clothes are Rs. 700, and a water cooler runs Rs. 1,000. The second flyer includes similar information and indicates that the group needs five ambulances that cost Rs. 600,000 each.
The pictures below are from the FIF Facebook page and show the LeT affilate openly providing humanitarian services.
Picture 1: A FIF aid distribution camp.
Picture 2: Members of FIF collecting donations.
Picture 3: FIF shuttles people from flood-affected areas to dry land.
Picture 4: FIF camp
Picture 5: FIF medical relief camp.
Picture 6: Flood victims receive medical care from FIF ambulance.