The Obama administration's foreign policy actions continue to be against America's best interests, as reports indicate that federal aid is being funneled to the very people the U.S. military is battling.
According to the Daily Beast, American warplanes are striking militants belonging to the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq while “truckloads of U.S. and Western aid have been flowing into territory controlled by the jihadists.”
The aid from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is intended for displaced Syrians and hungry civilians, but debate is fierce over whether to continue to provide the help. Advocates say that cutting off the aid will hurt innocent civilians and help fuel propaganda against the West, but opponents point out that there is no reason to continue to provide aid that does not reach its intended destination, and is instead funding terrorism.
Aid convoys are forced to pay ISIS leaders to allow the convoys to enter the regions where the extremists have a stronghold, providing yet another source of income for ISIS, which is already funded through oil smuggling, extortion, and the sale of what its members loot from nearby sites.
“The convoys have to be approved by ISIS and you have to pay them: The bribes are disguised and itemized as transportation costs,” an aid coordinator told the Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity. He explained that the money is paid by foreign or local nongovernmental organizations which must distribute the aid, or by the Turkish or Syrian transportation companies contracted to deliver it.
And whether any of the aid actually reaches the civilians is unknown. The Daily Beast reports that there is some concern that the food and clothing are sold on the black market.
In the Syrian provinces of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, ISIS is insisting that NGOs employ people approved by ISIS.
“There is always at least one ISIS person on the payroll; they force people on us,” says an aid coordinator.
Aid workers are painfully aware that members of ISIS are receiving the aid they are delivering and have expressed outrage at what's happening.
“A few months ago we delivered a mobile clinic for a USAID-funded NGO,” says one, who declined to be named. “A few of us debated the rights and wrongs of this. The clinic was earmarked for the treatment of civilians, but we all know that wounded ISIS fighters could easily be treated as well. So what are we doing here helping their fighters, who we are bombing, to be treated so they can fight again?”
It is worth noting that the aid programs originated before Obama announced the war on ISIS, but even as State Department officials are aware that ISIS is benefitting from U.S. aid, no major review of the relief programs has been conducted and no significant changes have been made.
“I am alarmed that we are providing support for ISIS governance,” declared Jonathan Schanzer, a Mideast expert with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “By doing so we are indemnifying the militants by satisfying the core demands of local people, who could turn on ISIS if they got frustrated.”
Of course, this is not the first time that American taxpayer dollars have been used to fund questionable or openly corrupt organizations.
In December of 2013, the Overseas Development Institute reported that during the 2011 famine in Somalia, aid agencies there had been paying members of the al-Shabaab militant group in order to gain access to areas under their control. Members of al-Shabaab demanded “registration fees,” and often insisted on distributing the aid themselves. Many times, they kept much of the aid for themselves.
Also in 2013, the New York Times reported that American investigators uncovered data surrounding the Zurmat Material Testing Laboratory, affiliated with the Zurmat Group, an Afghan company that “investigators say was paid to do work at an American-controlled facility in November 2012, despite having been blacklisted two months before by one part of the military for providing bomb-making materials to insurgents.”
This was brought to the attention of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction in a letter last week.
The New York Times wrote:
According to other documents and a review of internal Pentagon communications obtained by The Times, the United States Central Command, which oversees the war in Afghanistan, requested in 2012 that Zurmat and its subsidiaries, along with more than 40 other companies and individuals believed to have ties to insurgents, be “debarred” by the Army. This would formally ban them from doing work for any part of the United States government.
At the time, officials estimated that those contractors had collectively been awarded more than $150 million in work for the American-led coalition over a 10-year period.
In 2011, a U.S. military report revealed that the United States had been funding its enemies to the tune of approximately $360 million. After a careful examination of combat support and reconstruction contracts, researchers determined that U.S. tax dollars had ended up with the Taliban and other enemies whom the United States has been fighting for the past decade.
The Blaze noted at the time that report was released:
The losses underscore the challenges the U.S. and its international partners face in overcoming corruption in Afghanistan. A central part of the Obama administration’s strategy has been to award U.S.-financed contracts to Afghan businesses to help improve quality of life and stoke the country’s economy.
The investigation into the contracts, led by U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, revealed many connections between the Afghan companies and their subcontractors to groups that the military would classify as “malign actors.”
Former Texas representative and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul warned against taxpayer-funded terrorism when he wrote in 2001:
We should recognize that American tax dollars helped to create the very Taliban government that now wants to destroy us. In the late 1970s and early 80s, the CIA was very involved in the training and funding of various fundamentalist Islamic groups in Afghanistan, some of which later became today’s brutal Taliban government. In fact, the U.S. government admits to giving the groups at least 6 billion dollars in military aid and weaponry, a staggering sum that would be even larger in today’s dollars.
Our foolish funding of Afghan terrorists hardly ended in the 1980s, however. Millions of your tax dollars continue to pour into Afghanistan even today.
And still, taxpayer dollars are funnelled to America’s enemies.