A leading Republican senator is calling on the Obama administration to launch a formal investigation into the potential diversion of U.S. taxpayer funds to organizations that have reportedly been infiltrated by the Hamas terror organization, according to new documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) is petitioning the State Department to investigate how much U.S. government and taxpayer money may have been given to charities recently discovered to have been secretly infiltrated by Hamas operatives, according to a letter sent by Rubio to Secretary of State John Kerry. He is also calling on the Obama administration to suspend all aid to Gaza until reviews can be undertaken to ensure funds are not disbursed to terror organizations.
U.S. donations to "numerous humanitarian organizations" have been funneled to Hamas "to support its terror and military organizations," according to Rubio and information disclosed by the Israeli government.
Israeli authorities recently arrested employees working for the nonprofit organization World Vision and the United Nations Development Program. The employees were charged with providing material and financial support to Hamas. Both organizations have received funding from the United States.
Rubio is requesting that the State Department "investigate every allegation and use all resources to ensure American taxpayer dollars as well as individual private donations of Americans are not being used to fund terrorism," according to the Thursday letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Free Beacon.
"Hamas officials have allegedly infiltrated numerous aid organizations as employees and used their access to redirect western aid to terrorist groups," according to Rubio.
One individual, Mohammed El-Halabi, was employed as the Gaza director of World Vision. The Israeli government determined he was "a major figure in the terrorist/military arm of Hamas" and alleged that "El-Halabi has been taking advantage of his position to divert the humanitarian organization’s funds and resources from the needy to benefit Hamas’ terrorist and military activities."
The United States is the world’s larger donor nation, meaning that funds allocated for humanitarian assistance may have been diverted to Hamas operations, according to Rubio.
"As the largest donor nation in the world, these reports of humanitarian assistance going to Hamas are very concerning," he wrote. "We must ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not being siphoned off by murderous terrorist groups such as Hamas. U.S. taxpayers, many of whom donate their own money to charities such as World Vision, should also be able to do so with confidence that their money will not fund terrorism."
Germany and Australia have already suspended all funding for World Vision programs in the Gaza Strip until a formal investigation is complete. Rubio is asking that the Obama administration to go further.
"I urge you to suspend all U.S. assistance to Gaza until a review of the controls in place to prevent a diversion of funds can occur," Rubio writes. "The review should examine the mechanisms that exist to identify and stop any potential misuse of taxpayer dollars in Gaza as well as the auditing processes of organizations working in areas controlled by Hamas or any other terrorist group."
Rubio said he is not surprised that Hamas has been exploiting charitable organizations in order to fund terrorism against Israel and the West.
"Although these allegations are shocking, I am not surprised that Hamas uses humanitarian aid to further its terror campaign against Israel," he wrote. "Hamas routinely tortures journalists, kills dissidents, and uses civilians as human shields. Hamas is the leading cause of Palestinian suffering in Gaza, including apparently stealing millions of dollars of humanitarian aid that should have gone to the Palestinian people."