LeT Affiliate Solicits Funds for Eid ul-Fitr and Humanitarian Activities
Just over a month ago, this blog examined the Ramadan fundraising efforts of a Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) charitable front organization, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). At the onset of Ramadan, FIF published several new flyers on its website soliciting readers for money to fund its humanitarian efforts and to pay for the suhoor (pre-fast meal) and iftaar (breaking of the daily fast) meals for those who cannot afford them.
With the conclusion of Ramadan (Eid ul-Fitr) and reports of flash flooding in areas of Pakistan, FIF has issued yet another solicitation for financial support. In its newest flyer (copied below), the group asks its supporters to donate money for Eid ul-Fitr to flood victims and the poor so that they may also celebrate the holiday with food and new clothes. Specifically, the flyer states that with a donation of Rs. 5,000 (approximately USD 57.00) individuals can purchase an Eid Package that would pay for food and new clothes for one family in need.
The United States should work with Pakistani stakeholders to ensure that the operating environment for illicit charities, particularly those with ties to violent extremist organizations (VEOs), is minimized. This action is critical to thwarting VEOs’ ability to use charities to raise and move funds, provide logistical support, and recruit followers. Additionally, charitable abuse can undermine donor confidence and endangers the integrity of the entire charitable sector, which in a country like Pakistan provides essential services to large populations. Put simply, providing secure avenues for donating money to trustworthy charities could also increase giving within Pakistan and across the Pakistani diaspora. (Great report on Pakistani diaspora philanthropy by Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy)
Next, as mentioned in a previous blog post, shutting down organizations such as FIF is not easy, nor is it the complete answer. Shutting down FIF is not easy because ties between Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment and FIF’s “mother ship” organization LeT remain murky. Therefore a clear and verifiable severance of ties between the “establishment” and the VEO is a sine qua non. Lastly, in addition to limiting the operating environment of illicit charities, the U.S. must work with the Pakistani government, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations to ensure viable alternatives to FIF exist. These alternatives are key to filling the humanitarian void left by weak institutions, corrupt leadership, and a lack of functioning infrastructure.