Beware being used as 'vehicles for terrorism', regulator's reports warn

The Charity Commission has published papers on two people convicted of using humanitarian aid convoys to fund terrorism in Syria

An aid convoy
An aid convoy

Charities could be used as "vehicles for terrorism", according to two Charity Commission reports about cases in which humanitarian aid convoys were used to fund terrorism in Syria.

The reports are about, Syed Hoque and Mashoud Miah, who the regulator says were both convicted on 23 December 2016 of entering into funding arrangements contrary to section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

This is believed to be only the second time the commission has published reports about individuals. They reiterate warnings about how humanitarian aid convoys can be abused for terrorist purposes.

According to one report, Hoque, was a volunteer for the east London community charity Shade. The report says that he used humanitarian aid convoys as cover for his support of another person involved in terrorist activities in Syria.

The charity had provided him with a letter of credential to support activities to help people affected by the Syrian civil war. The report confirms that the commission was in contact with the charity before Hoque’s conviction because the charity operated in a high-risk area.

The report says the charity did not conduct any due diligence on Hoque and failed to establish measures to control or monitor his activities on the charity’s behalf, which the commission considers to be misconduct and mismanagement on the behalf of the charity’s trustees.

The charity was issued with an action plan by the Charity Commission, which the charity has now implemented, the report says.

The other report says that Miah was a supporter of a company called Helping Humanity, which was raising charitable funds but was not a registered charity.

The regulator says in the report that the Helping Humanity it is referring to in the report, which is now defunct, should not be confused with a registered charity of the same name.

Miah also used humanitarian convoys as cover for his support of an individual in Syria, according to the report.

The company claimed to be awaiting charitable status, the report says, but never made an application to join the charity register.

The report says the company was later dissolved after contact with the commission.

The Charity Commission issued a regulatory alert in 2014 about the use of aid convoys in Syria, which warned that they could be abused by terrorists, and called on charities to ensure that all members of a convoy were properly vetted and travelled to and from the country as a group.

The commission has also emphasised that humanitarian aid convoys are an ineffective way of distributing aid, and has warned charities using them that they will be subject to additional regulatory scrutiny.

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