The City of Geneva Has Funded an NGO with Ties with Al-Qaida

The City of Geneva Has Funded an NGO with Ties with Al-Qaida

14.10.2014 La rédaction

The municipality and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs have paid nearly 245,000 francs to the Geneva-based foundation Alkarama, whose former president is accused of supporting terrorism by the United States, with his name also included on the United Nations list of sanctioned persons for his links with al-Qaida

The American decision had repercussions as far as Switzerland. On 18 December 2013, the US Treasury Department decided to freeze the assets of Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi. The Qatari man was accused by Washington of having transferred, in that same year, nearly $ 600,000 to Al-Qaeda via one of its representatives in Syria. As a matter of fact, this man – who presents himself on his Twitter account as a history professor at Doha University – has reportedly overseen the transfer of $ 2 million to the terrorist network, but in Iraq this time, as well as provided material support to Iraqi insurgents. Also according to the American authorities, he allegedly handed money to al-Qaeda in Yemen, as well as $ 250,000 to al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia.

Beside the United States accusations, al-Naimi was also known as the president of the Alkarama Foundation Council (Le Temps dated 21.12.2013), a Geneva-based non-governmental organization “defending victims of human rights violations in the Arab world “. When the case broke out, one element was still unknown: the funding origin of a project implemented by the NGO in Egypt in 2013. Since then, Le Temps has learned that the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the City of Geneva both committed CHF 245,000 francs for that project (195,500 francs for the Foreign Affairs, and 50,000 francs for the City). The project was intended “to start investigations into past violations and to bring to justice those responsible for such violations” and “to strengthen the human rights protection system”.

Further to our call, the NGO director, Mourad Dhina, still contests the American accusations: “The information on which the Americans are based comes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two countries whose actions are regularly questioned by us. Similarly, our investigation on drones’ strikes in Yemen, which make thousands of victims, is not to the liking of the United States. As for Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, he has asked to be heard by the American courts, but has not received any reply yet”. The Director confirmed that “his Foundation made sure with the American authorities that it was not concerned by these accusations”.

In January 2012, Mourad Dhina faced extradition to Algeria, on the grounds of terrorist activities between 1997 and 1999. Arrested in France, he was later released, after the Paris tribunals rejected the Algerian judiciary request.

The Egyptian project was suspended “in the summer of 2013, due to then on-going developments in Egypt and the fact that it had become impossible to work in the field, whether for Alkarama or for other foreign NGOs”, says Mourad Dhina.

Out of 50,000 francs paid by the City of Geneva, the latter only recovered 13,140 francs, said Gérard Perroulaz, an administrator of the Delegation Geneva Ville Solidaire (DGVS). This amount actually represents funds not used by the Foundation. Questioned on whether the missing sum (36,860 francs) will be recovered in view of the Department of the Treasury accusations, the city dodges the issue by saying: “At this stage, we are following the Confederation policy. Were it to change, our policy would adapt accordingly”, said the personal adviser of the magistrate in charge of finances, Socialist Sandrine Salerno. Finally, on the monitoring process regarding the award of grants, Gérard Perroulaz declared that “the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs’ expertise and recommendations have been followed for each politically sensitive project”. In other words, the DGVS does not have the technical and human resources in order to ensure that its beneficiary organizations act respectfully.

Since 18 December, Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi situation has changed, as he found his name on 24 September 2014 on the UN list of persons sanctioned for their links with al-Qaeda.

We contacted the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, which failed to answer our questions.

Olivier Francey

This post is also available in Français .

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