Jerusalem / Berlin – Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor published a new report today (Tuesday), examining the potential for abuse of German development funds by terror-affiliated non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Germany-Israel Friendship Association (DIG) joins in promoting the report in Germany.

The report presents a multi-level review of Germany’s aid to NGOs linked to the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an EU-recognized terrorist organization. It provides a contextual background, describing the nature of NGO-PFLP connections; discussing Israel’s October 2021 designation of Palestinian NGOs over their ties to the PFLP; and exploring the responses of major European donors, including Germany. All of the information is based on open and independently verifiable sources.

Since 2011, European donor governments including Germany have provided over €200 million to projects implemented by NGOs linked to the PFLP. NGO Monitor’s research identified over 60 NGO officials with different levels of affiliation with the terror organization.

NGO Monitor documented German grants allocated for projects involving at least ten PFLP-linked NGOs. These NGOs received millions of euros through different German development mechanisms, including through UN allocations. Due to a lack of transparency in Germany’s development aid system and its decentralized structure, the exact amounts and other details are hidden.

 For example, in 2018-2021, the Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ), the Federal Foreign Office (via Medico International), the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, and the Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) supported the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) for different projects. UAWC and other NGO officials are currently standing trial for planning or executing terrorist attacks, including the August 2019 murder of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb.

Additionally, the report examines the case of Samidoun, an NGO designated as a terror organization by the Israeli Ministry of Defense in February 2021. The head of Samidoun, Khaled Barakat, was expelled from Germany due to his “proclivity for violent, antisemetic rhetoric” and “support for a terrorist organization is a case of endangering public safety according to the definition in Section 54 (1) no. 2 of the Residence Act.” This NGO’s activities and partnerships show the extent of the PFLP’s influence within Germany.

Volker Beck, President of DIG noted that “NGO Monitor’s findings are alarming, and I expect the Federal government to examine them closely. The Foreign Intelligence Service of Germany, Military Counterintelligence Services, Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution should compare the information provided in this report with their own data and inform both the parliament and the public about their conclusions. The evidence demonstrating the links between the NGOs and the PFLP – designated by the EU as a terrorist organization – is substantial. Development aid institutions must not fund terror-linked actors.”

The ties between the PFLP and the NGOs discussed in the report – including structural connections, convictions or imprisonments for terror-related offenses, public endorsement of the PFLP and officials holding dual positions both at the PFLP and the NGOs – do not stem from classified intelligence.  As noted, they are based on open-source information, easily available to anyone, including German development agencies. The report concludes that this information should have been sufficient to raise fundamental questions and disqualify these NGOs as partners in any type of development project.

Finally, the report provides practical policy recommendations on how to ensure that public funds are not abused by terror-linked grantees.

Olga Deutsch, Vice President of NGO Monitor added:Such relationships between civil society actors and violent extremist movements highlight the importance of developing effective vetting processes and overall due diligence. Our analysis shows that this can be achieved through publicly available information, meaning any civil servant can vet these NGOs by checking their online profiles and published materials. We hope the report will jump-start a public discussion on how best to do that.”

Link to the report in English

Link to the report in German