Australian groups accused of aiding PFLP-linked group

Israel Law Center accuses World Vision Australia and AusAID of funding terrorism.

Hamas supporters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas supporters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israel Law Center, a civil rights group, sent legal warnings on Wednesday to two Australian organizations, World Vision Australia and AusAID, accusing them of providing financial aid to a Gaza-based terrorist group.
The Palestinian organization, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), lists World Vision, a Christian relief, development and advocacy group, and AusAID, the Australian government agency for managing the country’s overseas aid program, as its supporters.
The Israel Law Center said the UAWC, which maintains offices in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, is a front for terror group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The center’s director, attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, and Australian solicitor Andrew Hamilton co-signed the warning letters, which ask World Vision and AusAID to provide written confirmation that they will permanently discontinue their support for the UAWC.
Darshan-Leitner and Hamilton warned that continuing such support could expose both groups to criminal prosecution under Australian and US law, as well as civil liability to victims of PFLP-sponsored terror.
“The Union of Agricultural Work Committees is an integral part of the proscribed terror organization, the PFLP, that Australian citizens and corporations are prohibited from providing support to,” said Hamilton on Wednesday.
“By providing aid to the UAWC, organizations such as World Vision and AusAID are in fact aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorism, and thereby violating Australian and United States anti-terrorism laws.”
Palestinian agronomists affiliated with the PFLP established the UAWC in 1986, in response to the formation of the Fatah-affiliated agricultural relief committee, the Technical Center for Agricultural Services. While both relief committees declared themselves to be interested only in agricultural development, both later admitted being political and ideological.
A search by The Jerusalem Post revealed that the PLFP’s Arabic language website includes detailed reports on the UAWC’s work, the most recent of which is dated February 2.
At an official UAWC conference in Ramallah last year, PFLP spokesman Ali Jaradat joined representatives from Fatah and other Palestinian groups in saying that “Palestinian land [is] under fierce attack from the Israeli occupation,” Maan News’ Arabiclanguage site reported. The PLFP also vocally supported a UAWC protest outside the UN headquarters in Gaza City last year in response to the UN’s Palmer Report into the blockade of Gaza, with PFLP central committee member Imad Abu Rahma dubbing the blockade an “international crime,” according the PFLP’s Arabic-language Facebook page.
In its letters, the Israel Law Center warned the two organizations that by providing financial and material support for the UAWC, they could fall foul of strict antiterror laws.
“The PLFP’s funding is shared and distributed among its family of institutions, including the UAWC. The PLFP is the controlling hand of the UAWC and PLFP members form the executive of the organization,” the center said in the letters.
The Australian government lists the PFLP as a proscribed terrorist group under the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945, section 21, which states it is an offense for an individual or a corporate body to directly or indirectly make an asset available to a proscribed person or entity.
The PFLP is also officially designated by the US as a “Foreign Terror Organization” under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” under a presidential executive order.
“By providing financial aid to the UAWC, World Vision directly or indirectly makes assets available to the PLFP,” the center continued. “This is illegal even if the source of this money is an Australian government aid program as section 23 of the act provides that it prevails over any other law.”
The center warned that US law is also very strict regarding aiding and abetting terrorism.
It cites a recent US Supreme Court ruling known as Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, which held that providing any assistance or support to designated terrorist groups is criminal. The court found that even ostensibly benign support to terrorist groups is criminal, because that support can be used for nefarious means: “Material support meant to promote peaceable, lawful conduct can be diverted to advance terrorism in multiple ways,” the court said in its ruling.
World Vision Australia’s and AusAID’s support for the UAWC “constitutes the type of seemingly innocuous material that rendered your organization and you personally criminally and civilly reliable under Australian and United States law,” the center’s letter notes.
Both World Vision Australia and AusAID did not respond by press time to requests from the Post to comment on the letter.