On June 11, 2018 the Charity & Security Network sent comments to the U.S. Department of Treasuryt regarding its pending update to the 2015 National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment. Thie comments, which reflect input and insights from C&SN members, also request a meeting to follow up on the April 12 discussion Treasury hosted on this topic. Overall, the comments point out that net risk of terrorist financing abuse of legitimate NPOs is low, due to the combination of government oversight and robust nonprofit sector good governance and due diligence practices. They also note the importance of the need to distinguishing between risks for in two categories - sham/fraudulent charities and abuse of legitimate NPOs - since different types of risk reduction measures are needed for each.
The Latest News
The Charity and Security Network monitors U.S. and foreign government activities and a wide range of news sources to identify developments in national security policy that impact civil society and nonprofit organizations. We collect and disseminate relevant information on our website, via our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and through our biweekly email newsletter, which contains links to a variety of news articles. To read the most recent issues of our email newsletter or to subscribe, click here.
Our staff also creates news pieces on events and developments of particular interest to our members that are not covered in other news outlets. Those stories can be found below, in revese chronological order.
A recent letter to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a U.S.-based environmental nonprofit organization, from the House Committee on Natural Resources confirms civil society's worst fears about how the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) can be politicized to target nonprofits in the U.S. With the letter, the Committee has initiated an investigation of the NRDC, accusing it of being a "foreign agent" of the Chinese government, and inquiring why it hasn't registered under FARA.
The letter cites "the potential manipulation of tax-exempt 501(c) organizations by foreign entities to influence U.S. environmental and natural resource policy." The Committee claims that NRDC has criticized U.S. policies on the environment while praising China's efforts to comply with climate change commitments, and are therefore acting in the interests of the Chinese government.
On May 31 a federal court will hear arguments on whether a complaint brought against the Carter Center by the Zionist Advocacy Center (TZAC), which alleges that hosting conflict resolution meetings attended by Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), both designated as terrorist groups by the U.S., should be dismissed. TZAC alleges that hosting the meetings and serving water, fruit and cookies constitutes illegal material support. The Department of Justice (DOJ) moved to dismiss the case, saying that TZAC’s claims “are without legal basis…” TZAC filed the case under seal in November 2015 using the False Claims Act (FCA), which allows private whistleblowers to seek enforcement of U.S. law. The case was partially unsealed in January 2018. It raises significant questions about how far the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Holder v Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) goes in prohibiting communications and contact with listed groups.
Two intergovernmental events during the last week of April 2018 demonstrated growing support to address the problems nonprofits organizations (NPOs) are having with access to financial services for international programs. At both the conference on combatting terrorist financing hosted by the French government and the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) annual meeting with NPOs and private sector stakeholders, outcome statements emphasized the importance of addressing the “derisking” problem and ensuring that efforts to stop terrorist financing do not unduly disrupt or discourage NPO activities.
Norwegian People’s Aid, (NPA) signed an agreement with the United States Government on March 28, 2018 settling a federal lawsuit alleging that two of its projects - democracy training for youth in Gaza and mine clearing in Iran - violated the terms of a 2012 USAID grant agreement to provide emergency aid in South Sudan. NPA’s grant agreement with USAID stipulated that it did not provide material support to entities on U.S. terrorist lists. NPA said it believed the certification only applied to U.S.-funded activities, but USAID said it applies to all NPA projects, regardless of funding source. The case was filed in 2015 under seal in federal district court in the Southern District of New York under the False Claims Act by attorney David Abrams, a self-described “pro-Israel activist.” NPA said it agreed to pay $2.025 million in order to close the case and avoid the expense of a trial. Because the case settled prior to trial there was no challenge as to whether the either of projects constituted material support. Abrams told Development Today he has two more cases against European NGOs pending under seal.