Charities linked to terrorist attack, report reveals

The Home Office has linked eight charities to the 7 July 2005 bombings in London. The National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit, which has been looking into how the bombings were financed, followed a trail to the charities.

Six further charities have been associated with terrorist groups that are suspected of planning subsequent attacks.

A Home Office spokesman refused to name the charities involved. He said: “I think there’s probably a good reason why they haven’t revealed them – they could be taken to court or that sort of thing.”

The revelation came in a report by the Home Office and HM Treasury into safeguarding charities from terrorist abuse.

The document, published yesterday, also says that the Charity Commission should have a greater role in investigating links between charities and terrorist groups. It proposes that the Government should move to develop the commission’s investigative capacity and encourage the regulator to have more effective co-ordination with counter-terrorist agencies.

It also calls on the regulator to publish a “strategic and operational objective” to identify and minimise risk of terrorist exploitation. This document should suggest ways for charities to assess the risk of exploitation and exercise a “know your beneficiary” principle, the report has proposed.

The Charity Commission said dealing with “the abuse of charities including terrorist exploitation” has always been part of its work. “We will be talking to the charity sector about the recommendations made in the review, to ensure that our response is pragmatic, proportionate and complements the context in which modern charities operate,” said a spokesman.

The Government has launched a 12-week consultation period, during which charities can respond to the proposals.

The report was scheduled for release in January, but appears to have been delayed in order to incorporate comments from NCVO’s rival document on links between terrorist networks and third sector organisations. The umbrella body’s report was fiercely critical of the government’s “draconian” stance on the issue.

While the government document acknowledges that the current scale of terrorist links to charitable activity is “extremely small” in comparison to the size of the sector, it still claims that, “as terrorist finance controls in others sectors tighten, so terrorists increasingly seek to fund ways to circumvent them”.

“The scope for exploitation of charities by terrorists could become a significant aspect of the terrorist finance threat without appropriate and co-ordinated action now by the sector, regulator and government,” the report warns.

The consultation is open until 2 August. Charities can take part by visiting the Home Office website .

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