In April 2018, the US court approved a settlement agreement resolving a claim that the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) provided material support to Iran and designated Palestinian terror groups in violation of US law. The lawsuit on which the settlement was based, followed an investigation which established that NPA had sponsored projects in which the US-designated (also EU-designated) terrorist groups Hamas and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) took part.
According to the NPA’s annual report for 2016, it received funding from the EU amounting to 17,043,000 Norwegian kroner (approx. €1.76 million).
As there is no indication that any action has been taken by the EU, either prior to this judgement and particularly as a result of it, the ILF has recently sent out a letter to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the matter, asking that the EU cease all funding to Norwegian People’s Aid whether directly or through third parties, and that the EU implement proper due diligence and provide European taxpayers with full transparency.
The letter was sent in cooperation with the Executive Director of the Zionist Advocacy Center attorney David Abrams who won the case against the NPA in the US, Legal Counsel at ECI attorney Andrew Tucker, Chief Executive at UKLF attorney Jonathan Turner, and President of Observatory on Discriminations attorney Barbara Pontecorvo.
The letter argued that it is under the obligation of the EU, as a funding body, to carry out proper and ongoing due diligence to ensure that EU taxpayer funds do not reach the hands of terror organizations and advance objectives which go against the EU’s policies and interests
The letter also argued that it is the EU’s responsibility to immediately halt the financing of such groups once evidence of the provision of material support to terror organizations has been established until such time that conclusive results are presented that the activity has ceased or until the presentation of evidence that conclusively refutes the findings.
In the absence of proper due diligence, the EU is unable to know, track, or control what is being done with the money transferred to the NGOs being funded.
Furthermore, in cases in which the EU is unaware of the movement of the funds and how they are being used by the NGOs, the affiliates and or the third or fourth parties to which they are being transferred, the EU cannot act with full transparency, thus denying taxpayers their right to know which entities are being funded by them and the purposes for which it is being used.
In 2001, the EU adopted Common Position 2001/931/CFSP , which added additional measures in order to implement the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001). The latter, which the EU has adopted and binds the member states, aims to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts. Accordingly, it is expected that the EU uphold the laws and resolutions to which its member states are bound.
The European Commission, to its credit, has also created an Action Plan for strengthening the fight against terrorist financing. The Commission recognized that as terrorist organizations need financing to maintain their networks and to commit acts of terror, “cutting off sources of finance, making it harder to escape detection when using these funds, and using any information from the financing process to best effect can all therefore make a powerful contribution to the fight against terrorism.”
As NPA is not the only body suspected of terrorism, as long as the due diligence remains unsatisfactory the EU continues to expose itself to the risks of financing direct or indirect terrorism.