Charity channelled millions of dollars to development centre that employed leader of terror-listed group
AUSTRALIAN taxpayer funds are being funnelled to a Palestinian aid organisation that has employed and supported a leader of a terrorist group in Gaza.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has given at least $21 million in the past decade to a Sydney-based charity set up by the unions, Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA.
This charity then channelled millions of dollars to the MA’AN Development Centre — a Palestinian organisation that employed a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The revelations have prompted Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to announce an audit of the union funding, understood to have been decided by her department.
PFLP has been on the official terror lists of the United States, European Union and Canada as a result of its hijacking of planes, assassinations and suicide bombings, while Australia has the group on its “Consolidated” list of organisations subject to financial sanctions as a result of security threats.
One of the MA’AN Development Centre’s 36 staff working in Gaza was Ahmed Abdullah Al Adine, 30, who held the job of Project Co-ordinator and Field Monitor since 2012.
Al Adine was also a leader of the PFLP in Gaza until he was killed in border protests last month. The terror group now hails him as a “martyr” and gave him a grand funeral last month, attended by at least a dozen PFLP terrorists.
Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA, which describes itself as a “justice organisation of the Australian union movement” and provides funding to human rights causes around the world, issued a media release about the death of Al Adine.
“Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA is particularly sad to report that a colleague working with the MA’AN Development Centre, our partner organisation in Gaza, was killed during the protests,” APHEDA’s May 15, 2018 media release states.
“Ahmed Abdullah Al Adine was standing with other protesters when he was fatally shot in his stomach by an Israeli sniper several hundred metres away.”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s website states that their “ martyred comrade” Al Adine was a member of their leadership team in Gaza.
“With deep pride, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine salutes its esteemed martyr, Ahmad Abdullah al-Adaini (sic), who was martyred as he participated in the uprising of return near al-Bureij,” a May 16 statement on his death reads.
“The martyred comrade was born in the Gaza Strip in 1981 to a family from Tarabin in Bir Saba. He was a member of the leadership of the PFLP in Deir al-Balah and its secretary and a member of the Palestinian Progressive Youth Union.
“His vast capabilities made him an esteemed contributor to the struggle; he never left the field and especially the march for return, carrying high the banner of its goals and advancing with his comrades until his death.”
On Al Adine’s personal Facebook page, he states his occupation is a “project co-ordinator” for MA’AN Development Centre. On May 9 and May 7 he posted photographs featuring PFLP flags and PFLP propaganda.
He also posted PFLP press statements and frequently wrote incendiary comments about the death of Israel, while celebrating martyrdom.
His funeral was guarded by more than a dozen armed men wearing balaclavas with the PFLP logo on bandannas, and his funeral image also had the PFLP logo on it.
The group has been responsible for a spate of terror attacks dating back to 1968 when it hijacked a commercial El Al Flight and held hostages captive for 40 days. The incident has been described as laying the foundation for al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks.
More recent incidents include a 2015 attack on Israelis driving in a car, an assassination plot against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a 2014 massacre in a Jerusalem synagogue where four Jewish worshippers and a policeman were killed and a further seven were injured, a 2012 attack involving firing an antitank missile explosive device and, a month earlier, detonating a roadside bomb targeting an Israeli Defence Force patrol in southern Israel, among others.
PFLP also claimed responsibility for a spate of suicide bombings in 2002 to 2004 which killed Israeli civilians, and assassinated Israeli Minister for Tourism Rahevam Zeevi and Israeli head of security Meir Lixenberg in 2001.
APHEDA received $8.6 million in government funds from 2011 to 2015 and is budgeted to get another $5.1 million from 2016 until 2019.
Its annual report for 2017-18 states 40 per cent of its income is from government funds. Its total funding encompasses donations from many Australian unions including Australian Workers’ Union, Finance Sector Union, Health Services Union of Australia, MEAA, NSW Police Association, Rail, Tram and Bus Union, and Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union, among others. There is no public information for how much funding APHEDA currently gives to the MA’AN Development Centre. It referred questions to DFAT.
In 2011 AusAID revealed MA’AN had received $1.2 million from Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA in the 12 months to April 30, 2010.
“AusAID does not directly fund the MA’AN Development Centre,” AusAID’s response stated. “However, under the Australia Middle East NGO co-operation agreement, AusAID provides funding to Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA to undertake development activities in Gaza and the West Bank.
“MA’AN Development Centre received approximately $1,219,320 from Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA in the 12 months to 30 April 2010 to implement development activities under the AMENCA program focusing on rural development through land rehabilitation, agricultural training, small business development and village women’s enterprises.” AusAID had given APHEDA $2,293,000 in 2010-11, $2,586,322 in 2009-10 and $2,466,506 in 2008-09.
The MA’AN Development Centre, which is based in Ramallah but also has branches in Gaza and Salfeet, says it has repaired five water tanks destroyed by Israel, has repaired 7.7km of water pipelines, 49 water points and fixed 11 wells.
Ms Bishop said Union Aid Abroad was a longstanding Australian aid partner.
“DFAT has advised that Mr Al Adine was not involved in any Australian-funded aid activities,” she said. “I have already directed that there be a full audit of Australian government funding, to ensure no misuse of our funds through Union Aid Abroad.”