Top Federal Government Partner ANERA Is a Hive of Jew-Hate and Hamas-Support. By Sam Westrop


ANERA staff working in Gaza with members of Bayader, a major Hamas charity involved with the son of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.In 2014, Mousa Shawwa, a charity worker, endorsed a call on social media for God to "erase the Jews." Ten years later, the world's only Jewish state erased him. On March 8, an Israeli strike reportedly killed Shawwa, a "logistics coordinator" in Gaza for American Near East Refugee Aid, better known as ANERA.

ANERA claims his death was the result of a "targeted attack" against aid workers. The D.C. based charity has not provided evidence for its claim. But it is noteworthy that Shawwa appeared to encourage the very violence that ended his life.

In fact, multiple ANERA officials have expressed extremist or hateful rhetoric. Even worse, the Middle East Forum has found that ANERA, a taxpayer-funded organization and major partner for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), subsidizes and partners with groups that include apparent proxies for a designated terrorist organization.

Founded in 1968, just after the Six-Day War, ANERA is often today referred to as the "largest" American charity in the Palestinian territories, also offering programs in Lebanon and Jordan. In its 2022 tax returns, ANERA reported revenue of over $170 million.

Despite serving as a major partner of government and various international agencies, multiple media reports and investigative works have, for decades, accused the charity of supporting extremists tied to the designated terrorist organization Hamas.

Today, ANERA is a long-standing partner of the Bayader Association for Environment and Development, a charity whose annual reports note"coordination" and "meetings" with Hamas's Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture.

In February 2023, Bayader and a Western Islamist charity, Islamic Relief (a leading ANERA partner and donor) organized a ceremony in the Gazan city of Khan Yunis, at which a number of Hamas leaders spoke, including Abdul Salam Haniyeh, a senior Hamas government official and son of Hamas's political leader Ismail Haniyeh, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under U.S. law.

ANERA has also used USAID monies to fund projects of the Unlimited Friends Association, which a previous study by the Middle East Forum determined is aligned with senior Hamas leaders, works to reward the "families of martyrs" in Gaza with cash handouts, and promotes deeply anti-Semitic rhetoric across its social media pages.

Hamas official Abdul Salam Haniyeh (second from left), son of terror leader Ismail Haniyeh, at the launch of a project in Gaza in 2023, organized by Islamic Relief and the Bayader Association, both of which are key partners of ANERA.

Indeed, this particular ANERA partner has published posts on its official social media stating: "We ask God to drive away the anguish of the heroic prisoners in the Nazi Zionist jails and to free Al-Aqsa Al-Sharif from the filth of the most dirty Jews."

Other examples have sparked concern. In 2000, an ANERA report appears to disclose a partnerships with the Ihsan Society, which the U.S. government later designated as a Hamas front in 2005.

In 2007, the Washington Times reported that "USAID continues to fund multimillion-dollar programs through American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), which is building a high-tech facility" for the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG). In fact, the IUG was founded by Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin and remains a key Hamas outpost today. ANERA reported in 2005 that it was working to raise $900,000 for just a single project at IUG.

A 2007 audit from the Inspector General's office at USAID concluded that the government agency had seriously failed in its vetting duties upon funding ANERA's activities with IUG and other institutions.

In 2017, a report from the Israel Law Center alleged that money sent through ANERA to the Palestinian territories was "used to support Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) kindergartens that actively indoctrinate children in hatred and killing of Israeli civilians, as well as other PIJ and Hamas organizations, thus enabling them to finance terrorist activity, which is forbidden by U.S. law."

Shawwa was far from the only ANERA official to push pro-terror or anti-Jewish rhetoric. ANERA staff member Esma Marwa has expressed delight upon hearing of an injury to the "head of a rotten Jew," and warns Palestinians that publishing pictures of their "martyrs" only serves to help the "Jews."

Ibrahim Zanoun, meanwhile, serves as ANERA's photographer in Gaza. His own social media posts include praise for the Hamas "resistance" and warnings that Hamas will "soon broadcast a video threatening the Jews."

Other ANERA staff include Ibrahim Najjar, who expressed support for the "brave prisoners" in Israeli jails and venerates the Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin, posting pictures of the terrorist leader.

ANERA's Palestine Director, meanwhile, is Sandra Rasheed. Despite ANERA's claim to be a "non-partisan organization," Rasheed is an overt advocate for radical action, encouraging direct action efforts by extremist far-Left organizations, supporting student campus protestors, and posting inane social media agitprop that promise resistance by "land, by air and by sea – by any means and in any conditions."

Naser Qadous, ANERA's agricultural programs manager, posted cryptic messages of support for Hamas's October 7 attacks, which were 'liked' by other ANERA staff. Qadous later shared Hamas-produced propaganda about its treatment of Israeli hostages, with the ANERA official declaring that one hostage, pictured surrounded by armed terrorists, had merely been a "guest."

ANERA's former "national coordinator" in Lebanon, Mohamed Alsayed (who now claims to serve as the charity's "youth sports coordinator") also welcomed the October 7th attacks, referring to the day of the mass killings as a "beautiful morning."

October 7, day of the attacks that killed around 1200 Israelis, is a "most beautiful morning," writes Mohamed Alsayed, who claims to be ANERA's "youth sports coordinator."

ANERA appears to employ extremists and partner with terror proxies. Should it really be a conduit for federal aid monies?

Government records indicate that USAID and Department of State have authorized awards to ANERA of over $170 million dollars since 2006. Federal data indicates at least $10.7 million of that funding has been handed to ANERA so far.

Federal spending records frequently underreport, and so actual amounts outlaid may well be higher. Indeed, ANERA's own 2023 report lists USAID and the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration as part of its "$1,000,000 and above" donors for that year. Between 2009 and 2022, ANERA's tax returns report a total of $100 million of government funding, although this figure may include state, local or even foreign governmental bodies as well.

Other donors include two U.N. agencies, a slew of major corporate foundations, as well as a number of terror-linked Islamist charities, such as Helping Hand for Relief Development, which has openly worked with a designated terrorist organization; and Muslim Aid USA, whose U.K. parent branch has admitted to funding proxies for Palestinian terror organizations.

The biggest Western Islamist partner and donor for ANERA, however, is Islamic Relief, an enormous international charitable franchise headquartered in the United Kingdom with branches in countries around the world.

The biggest Western Islamist partner and donor for ANERA, however, is Islamic Relief, an enormous international charitable franchise headquartered in the United Kingdom with branches in countries around the world.

Officials of the U.S. branch of Islamic Relief have praised the killing of Jews in Israel and expressed support for the designated terrorist organization Hamas. And following European and Arab government criticisms of Islamic Relief, the U.S. State Department has denounced Islamic Relief's British headquarters for its "blatant and horrifying anti-Semitism and glorification of violence."

Islamic Relief does not just fund ANERA, but the two work closely together in Gaza, even issuing joint press releases.

Both organizations also appear to associate with the same Hamas front organizations. ANERA's partner Islamic Relief also backs the Bayader Association, for example. Indeed, it was an Islamic Relief branch that helped organize that Khan Yunis event with senior Hamas official Abdul Salam Haniyeh, son of Hamas's political leader and U.S. State Department-designated terrorist Ismail Haniyeh.

Given ANERA's long and well-documented history of partnering with radical organizations and employing staff members who appear to sympathize with killers, USAID's willingness to fund ANERA may have something to do with the fact that ANERA's director, Sean Carroll, served under the Obama administration as USAID's Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer.

We reached out to ANERA several months ago for comment, asking about the terror-ties of its beneficiaries and the anti-Semitism and other extremism of its staff and partners. We also asked if ANERA, a public charity, would consider embracing transparency by publishing a full list of its partners in the Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. We received no response.

Instances of corruption and radicalism within humanitarian aid movements are not a new phenomenon. Benevolence is easily hijacked, and the kindness of donors easily exploited. But it is often through charitable infrastructure that the most dangerous political ideologies disseminate ideas and recruit new members.

Today, the U.S. international aid is a deeply incestuous industry, prone to employing partisans and refusing to vet its beneficiaries in terror-stricken areas of the world.

Groups such as ANERA partly serve to fund and celebrate proponents of terror and hate. Let's work to defund it.

Sam Westrop is director of the Middle East Forum's Islamist Watch project.

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