US-based Pak-linked ‘Charity’ Organisations are collecting funds in the name of helping India during Covid Crisis. After collecting millions of dollars, some of them came together and sent peanuts in the name of help. All of them claimed the credits, so that their donors would think that money is well spent. The money collected could go from terror finance to Pak army to Hamas – apart from the pocket money to the Charities and its so called patrons. This is the story of #CovidAidScam2021. Illinois-based IMANA is at the centre of a major COVID aid scam after DisinfoLab released a report investigating its activities … writes Kaliph Anaz
When the entire world is fighting to stem the raging pandemic, some anti-social forums channel public empathy to line their pockets and fund anti-India-related activities. Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) is under the cloud of suspicion as DisinfoLab in an investigative report revealed that their tall claims on helping India are a charade to fleece people.
The report identified various red flags in IMANA’s #HelpIndiaBreathe campaign on Instagram, which was started in late-April with an initial target of Rs 1.8 crore. IMANA managed to get a huge response from Instagram alone, raising Rs 8.7 crore.
The target was revised twice, once to Rs 3 crore and then again to Rs 5.62 crore as and when they were met. Using the same campaign on the crowd-funding platform Just Giving, the charity raised another Rs 2 crore and also pushed donation options on many websites and on Facebook, but it remains unclear how much was raised.
Gathering all the available information about IMANA’s fundraising on various platforms, DisinfoLab revealed the charity managed to raise anywhere from Rs 30 crore to Rs 158 crore. Up until the fund-raising, everything seemed normal, but things started to get fishy when it came to actually help the needy in India as intended. Dr Ismail Mehr, the chairman of IMANA, in a recent interview, made some extremely tall claims, ranging from providing 100K nasal cannulas, 40K non-breather masks, 450 oxygen concentrators, tying up with Air India for free logistics, having on-ground workers and even partnering with DRDO and Ministry of Agriculture for coordination.
But the ground reality turns out to be entirely different. The said medical supplies never reached Delhi, rather, over 100 oxygen concentrators sent to Gujarat was allegedly in association with another organisation, which raised its own funds for COVID relief, the Disinfolab said in the report.
The report highlighted similar efforts portrayed by the organisation, but never saw the light of the day. It found IMANA’s links with other charities, such as Saiyad Foundation, which also made several claims without backing of subsequent events.
According to the report, IMANA allegedly routes its funds through various organisations, only to eventually reach the terrorists, Islamists or Pakistan Army. Only a fraction of the total funds raised go anywhere close to helping people as intended, the report said.
“IMANA provides ‘help’ to Pakistan through Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust (AMT), according to IMANA Care 2020 Annual Report. The AMT is nothing but part of Pakistan’s Milbus ‘military capital’, that is used for the personal benefit of the Pak Army fraternity, especially the officer cadre, but is neither recorded nor part of the defence budget,” the report notes.
The report also established links between IMANA and Al Khidmat, which has extensive ties with Hamas. According to the report, funds worth tens of crores have been stolen and used for terror funding.
IMANA collected money in the name of Covid crisis in India from all over the world, including from countries where India had sent Covid vaccines, and thereby exploiting the goodwill that India and the Indians have, the Disinfolab said.
IMANA remained opaque about everything, from fund collection to its actual deliveries. Its Chairman nonetheless seems capable of fluent lie in fluent English, who claimed to have robust ground network of ‘Hindu and Sikh’ friends. He was also in touch with DRDO and Indian Ministry of Agriculture for distributing the help.
However, in terms of delivery, till date they could manage 100-odd concentrators (that too in association with Saiyad Foundation which itself was collecting funds for same.) And at the end, the help is sent to GSWT affiliated Shifa Hospital, whose staff was arrested for illegal activities related to essential medicines during the crisis.
The report also highlighted that the IMANA is now setting up fundraisers to help people in Palestine. This was after the COVID started to subside in India. It is now raising funds for Gaza since May 18 and it claims to have provided $2 million worth medical help in Gaza and meals to 12,000 people.