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The Libyan Aid Ship to Gaza

International Charity and Development Foundation-GICDF 

On 24 September 2009 CBS reported that the Obama administration plans to give $400,000 in funding to a Libyan charity run by the Gadhafi family, and that US Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) wants the grant to be withdrawn. According to the report the money would be divided between two foundations run by the family of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. A $200,000 share is set to go to the Gadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF), which is run by Gadhafi’s son, Saif, and another $200,000 is to go to Wa Attassimou, an organization run by Muammar Gadhafi’s daughter, Aisha. [1]

The Gadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation organized the voyage of the Amal (“hope”) ship which set sail for the Gaza Strip with humanitarian aid to be delivered to the Hamas government, which has been declared and designated as a terrorist organization. The paradox of this situation is that if US material support has been given to the Libyan foundation, one may ask whether American funds have allegedly been transferred to Hamas, via a humanitarian foundation.

A similar paradox in US policy was demonstrated during the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial in Dallas, which revealed the transfer of funds by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Hamas Zakat charitable organization in the West Bank and Gaza. USAID gave money to some of the very same charity committees that were identified as Hamas fronts that the HLF funded. The terrorist organization Hamas has used charities as fronts to raise money and build its infrastructure. Between 1997 and 2001, USAID provided direct support to at least one of the committees listed in the Department of Justice indictment.

In a similar fashion to the HLF claims, GICDF uses the humanitarian aid aspect as a pretext to enable access to Gaza by sea. This is intended to promote Hamas’ agenda and strategy – in this case to contribute to Hamas’ efforts, as well as to break the siege imposed by Israel on Gaza. It should be noted that in the 2005 Foreign Operations Bill, the US congress tightened the tests of eligibility for receiving US assistance. Since then, not only must the money not be used for terror-associated activities, but furthermore the recipient must not be involved in or use any part of its budget for terror-associated activities.

Libya’s “humanitarian” ransom payments

The Abu Sayyaf group

Past cases in which Libya was involved in humanitarian activities have been proven to be backchannel assistance to terror organizations. A closer look at the Libyan ransom payments to release hostages held by terrorists in the name of “human rights” revealed that the payments were channeled to fund and support terrorists.

In the latter half of the 1990s the Abu Sayyaf Group became a focus of attention for security agencies due to its spectacular kidnappings and other activities targeting foreigners in the Philippines. In April 2000, the Abu Sayyaf Group (an affiliate of the Al Qaeda network), demanded the release of Arab terrorists linked to Al Qaeda and jailed in US, including Ramzi Yousef and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, in return for the release of the approximately 29 school children that remained in hostage since their abduction in March 2000. That same month the group also threatened to kill Americans in the Philippines. It gained international notoriety when it raided a divers’ resort on Sipadan Island in Malaysia and abducted 21 mostly Western tourists and resort workers and took them to their hideout in Sulu. The group demanded a $1 million ransom for each of the Western hostages.

In August 2000 Gadhafi intervened, offering as much as $1 million per hostage and citing his role as a “humanitarian”.[2 ]Through the mediation efforts of Libya via its humanitarian foundation, several million dollars were paid for the hostages’ release even though the Philippine government maintained a policy of not paying ransoms. According to Philippine intelligence and an Australian newspaper, Abu Sayyaf leaders spent the ransom money on M-16 rifles, grenade launchers and other weaponry. The money also aided the recruitment of an estimated 2,000 new fighters; each one was paid $2,000 to join.

The Taliban and Al Qaeda

In 2001, Saif Islam Gadhafi, son of the Libyan leader and chairman of the Gadhafi foundation, mediated a hostage crisis between the Taliban in Afghanistan and several European nations after the Taliban kidnapped eight aid workers in Kabul who were charged with “spreading Christianity.” According to an Australian newspaper report, further investigation revealed that the Taliban, which from 1996 to 2001 hosted Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda core, received “humanitarian help” from the Gadhafi foundation. Gadhafi’s foundation also offered aid to the families of Al Qaeda militants arrested in Pakistan and inMay 2002 Gadhafi paid for the transport of six wives and 14 children of militants from Pakistan to Libya.According to the Pakistan Observer newspaper, in 2001 the foundation also “offered its services to arrange the repatriation of the foreign-origin persons who had been fighting alongside the Taliban.” [3]

In July 2003 Gadhafi ‘s foundation may have made payments to secure the release of European hostages held first in Algeria and then in Mali by the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, an affiliate of the Al Qaeda network. Gadhafi’s foundation claimed partial credit for securing the hostages’ release and it seems that the foundation paid the Al Qaeda affiliate for this. The humanitarian payments actually funneled money into the coffers of an Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist group.



[2] Libyan payment of ransoms, see Seth Maydans, “Libyan Aid Helps to Free Hostages Held in the Philippines,” The New York Times, October 21, 2001; and Deidre Sheehan, “Buying Trouble,” Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), September 2000, p. 7.

[3] Jonathan Schanzer, “Terrorism’s Back Door- Kadafi’s apparent good deeds mask ongoing funding of fanatics”, Los Angeles Times, August 26, 2003.