- Mail On Sunday investigation shows that UK money has funded terrorists
- £72million was given to Palestine, which spent £8million on a new palace
- £5.9million was given to a US-based think-tank which has a £12million HQ
- You can sign the MoS petition to force a Commons debate on spending
The scandal of how Britain fritters away billions in foreign aid – including paying salaries to convicted terrorists who have murdered hundreds of innocent people – is exposed today by a major MoS investigation.
The shocking revelation that thousands of Palestinian terrorists, including men who have masterminded suicide bombings and murdered children, are given cash handouts from aid money will cause anger and disbelief, particularly in the wake of the Brussels massacres.
Our probe exposed how huge amounts of taxpayers’ cash, that critics say should be spent in Britain, is being ‘squandered’ on wasteful schemes elsewhere by the Department For International Development (DFID) and Foreign Office.
Despite claims of astonishing waste, the Government maintains a dogged adherence to the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of the nation’s income on foreign aid – the highest proportion of any of the world’s major economies – even though last year it had to borrow £70 billion.
Pet project: The £8million palace built by Palestine, which has received £72million of foreign aid
Special relationship: The Global Center For Development was given £5.9million. The US-based think-tank has a £12million HQ (pictured)
In a two-month global investigation we have also exposed how:
- As Europe and Britain’s migrant crisis has spiralled out of control, a BBC Somali radio drama funded by the British taxpayer heard characters trading tips on how to become an illegal immigrant into Europe
- More than £5 million of UK money went to a US think-tank that spent £12 million on a new HQ in Washington
- Officials from pariah state North Korea were flown to Britain for English lessons.
- Music teachers were sent around the world to teach children in 17 countries songs such as Scarborough Fair
Our dossier, painstakingly compiled over two months by correspondents worldwide, lifts the lid on a ‘culture of waste’ at bloated DFID.
It is driven by the ‘mantra’ that 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) must be spent on foreign aid. Britain is the first G7 country to enshrine the aim in law.
The revelations will raise serious questions about the Government’s slavish determination to stick to that commitment, which critics say inevitably results in a frantic race to spend cash – even on projects with only a slim chance of achieving their goal.
Cash for jobs that don't exist: Civil servants in Gaza are funded by western aid, who queue at cashpoints on payday (pictured), even though they haven't had jobs since 2007
STOP THE FOREIGN AID MADNESS NOW: AS ANOTHER £12BN OF YOUR TAXES ARE SPLURGED ON HAND-OUTS FOR TERRORISTS AND KILLERS, IF YOU CARE ABOUT SPENDING ON FOREIGN AID BUDGET, SIGN OUR PETITION NOW
Today The Mail on Sunday launches a major campaign to end the aid madness, along with an online petition on the Downing Street website aimed at securing a Commons debate on the 0.7 per cent pledge.
Tory MP for Shipley, Philip Davies, said he hoped the MoS petition would ‘knock some sense into the Government’.
He said: ‘At a time when we are making cutbacks at home it is completely unjustifiable to keep increasing year on year the amount we are spending on overseas aid.
‘We can’t look after everybody in the whole world when we are struggling to look after some people in our own country.’
Fellow Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said that throwing cash at ‘silly’ projects left less money available for emergency aid such as assistance for Syrian refugees.
‘This is a bad way of spending public money. So much of this money is going on deeply silly and unnecessary things.’ The hefty burden of the overseas aid commitment was underlined in Chancellor George Osborne’s shambolic Budget pledge to cut £1.3 billion from disability benefits earlier this month – since reversed. The proposed cut, which led to the damaging resignation of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, amounted to just over a tenth of the £12 billion spent on foreign aid.
We dug beneath the headline figures on DFID’s websites to reveal waste and misguided largesse which seemed to extend to virtually every corner of the globe and which will shock readers. In the West Bank and Gaza, despite promises by the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) to end the practice of paying aid money to convicted terrorists, our investigation revealed that they had simply duped the West by allowing the Palestine Liberation Organisation to hand out the cash instead.
Britain gives £72 million a year to Palestine, more than one-third of which goes straight to the PA. It openly admits supporting terrorists whom it hails as heroes for fighting illegal occupation, awarding lifetime payments that rise depending on time spent in jail and the seriousness of crimes.
One Hamas master bomber has reportedly been given more than £100,000. Other ‘salaries’ go to the families of suicide bombers and even teenagers involved in the latest upsurge of deadly attacks on Israel.
DFID and the European Union are still effectively supporting these payments to thousands of terrorists – despite claims to have ended such links two years ago. This was confirmed to the MoS by former prisoners and families receiving the cash, and in official statements by the PA.
We also visited a lavish £8 million palace that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is having built on the West Bank.
Other highlights of the bizarre catalogue of aid include £8,000 spent to send Tony Blair’s former spin doctor to lecture in Armenia, and £36,000 to set up a ‘friendly’ football match between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Last night a Government spokesman said: ‘UK aid is spent where it is most needed and is subject to rigorous internal and external checks and scrutiny at all stages.
‘The Government has realigned the UK’s aid strategy, cutting wasteful programmes and making sure spending is firmly in the UK’s national interest. Alongside an increased defence budget and the UK’s world class diplomatic service, our aid programme is helping to create a more prosperous and stable world in which the UK can stand tall and flourish.’
UK Aid pays terrorists
IAN BIRRELL FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
Ahmad Musa sits beside me, a convicted double murderer sentenced to life in prison. As we talk, I ask him if he did indeed kill the two men. ‘Yes, I shot them dead,’ he replies.
Yet we do not meet in a jail cell. Musa is free, released after just five years. For he is a Palestinian terrorist and he was liberated under a peace deal.
Like thousands more Palestinian prisoners, including jihadi bombers and killers of children, Musa enjoys his freedom after being awarded a ‘salary’ for life.
He gets £605 every month, others get far more. If they die, the cash goes to their family. These men are seen as terrorists, certainly by Israel, and many in the West
But, astonishingly, the money behind these payments – described by some as ‘rewards for murder’ – flows from British and European taxpayers.
Amjad Awad (pictured) and his cousin Hakim Awad killed Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children in their West Bank home in 2011. They have been getting foreign aid since they were convicted for life
The UK cash comes from the Department for International Development, which will give up to £25.5million this year to the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of a £72million aid package. Our investigation discovered that the PA passes millions on to the infamous Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) – which in turn gives it to convicted terrorists locked up in Israeli prisons and their families.
Among them are Amjad and Hakim Awad, cousins who killed Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children in their West Bank home in 2011. It is estimated that Amjad alone may have been paid up to £16,000 from the fund so far.
AT-A-GLANCE: THE MOS'S 8-POINT FOREIGN AID MANIFESTO
Also on the payroll is Abdallah Barghouti, the Hamas bomb-maker who was sentenced to life after attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It is thought he has received payments totaling £106,000.
Dfid confirms that the PLO makes such payments, calling them ‘social welfare’ provisions for prisoners’ families.
It denies, however, that any British cash reaches terrorists, with the PLO taking over such payments two years ago from the PA after an international outcry.
But a Mail on Sunday investigation has found that Britain funded the PLO until last year and that the PA openly boasts of still funding salaries of convicted terrorists, even in its own official statements.
Former prisoners and the families of terrorists we have spoken to also confirmed receiving cash from both the PA and the PLO.
British aid money is supposed to be rebuilding and developing the Palestinian territories. However a devastating new report to be released this week by Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli NGO, suggests that Western donors have been duped by assertions that the Authority no longer funds terrorists.
Some Hamas terrorist masterminds have reportedly been given more than £100,000.
Other ‘salaries’ go to relatives of suicide bombers and even teenagers involved in the latest upsurge of deadly attacks on Israel. Several ex-prisoners confirmed to me that they were paid monthly stipends that started in jail.
One said they also received a ‘bonus’ on leaving prison and lucrative civil service job offers, the most senior posts going to those serving more than 15 years behind bars, even though they are not qualified.
PA officials openly defend such stipends. Amr Nasser, adviser to the minister of social affairs, said: ‘It is not a crime to be fighting occupation. These people are heroes.
‘We could be giving them much more money and it would not be enough.’ Nasser added that, if Palestine won independence, the government would seek reparations from Britain for its historic role in encouraging Zionism, saying ‘You should pay us more money.’
Tory MP Andrew Percy said last night: ‘How can we justify foreign aid as a noble endeavour when taxpayers money goes to pay terrorists? The government has got to get a grip.’
The four million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza receive the highest aid support per head in the world. Few would deny they face unique problems given checkpoints, tough crackdowns and disputed settlements.
Hakim Awad (centre) was also sentenced to life. They are estimated to have earned around £16,000 since they were convicted five years ago
In recent months the standoff with Israel has led to fresh violence, with Israelis shot and stabbed and hundreds of Palestinians shot by Israelis. Critics says such attacks are encouraged by the PA diverting funds from public services into generous salaries for convicted terrorists.
Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, said: ‘This serves as a huge financial incentive to carry out acts of terror against Jews.
‘Is it imaginable for a Western government to contemplate subsidising acts of mass murder and terror in this fashion? Yet that is effectively what is happening.’
Among those paid is Abdallah Bargouti, a Hamas leader given 67 life sentences for lethal attacks in 2001 and 2002, including a restaurant bombing that killed 15 diners. He is thought to have earned more than £100,000 since conviction, handed to his family.
Abdallah Barghouti, Hamas bomb-maker, was sentenced to life after attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He has been given £106,000
The cash-strapped PA relies on foreign aid for nearly half its budget. Yet it gives £79 million a year to prisoners locked up in Israeli jails, former prisoners and their families.
Although DFID says the salaries are ‘social welfare’ provisions, they go to people convicted of ‘acts of resistance’.
The department also insists payments come from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which was handed responsibility for prisoner welfare two years ago after concerns over aiding terrorism were raised in Westminster and Brussels.
Yet the father of two brothers jailed for gun attacks on Israeli settlers and soldiers told me he received monthly payments of £428 from the PA as well as £285 from the PLO.
Britain has provided aid in the past to the PLO, although this ceased last year.
The Palestinian Media Watch report suggests that Western donors have been misled by detailing documents and official statements exposing how the PA still funds the salaries of convicted terrorists.
Evidence includes the Ministry of Finance saying in an official statement last year it transfers almost half its budget to Gaza, adding this includes ‘the salaries of prisoners, the released and the families of the Martyrs and wounded.’
The report also reveals the PA transferred an extra 444m shekels to the PLO in 2015 - significantly, only marginally more than the 442m shekel budget given to its own Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs the previous year before it transferred responsibility.
Itamar Marcus, the report’s author, said: ‘There is wilful blindness by the UK and EU, who were happy not to even carry out the simplest investigation.’
The group also claims to have discovered two cases of individuals who carried out attacks for cash.
In one, Khalad Rajoub, a father of seven arrested for attempted murder two years ago, told police he had big debts and planned to die during an attack.
He is reported to have said: ‘My family would get money and live comfortably… my children would get a monthly allowance.’
A DFID spokesman denied funding terrorism and defended aid support to the PA. ‘This helps build Palestinian institutions and promotes economic growth.’
We give Palestine £72million... so they build an £8million palace
The sprawling building sits high on a hill, a presidential palace looking down imperiously on thousands of beleaguered West Bank residents crammed in below.
When I visited the impressive mansion on six acres of land, builders were putting finishing touches to its fine limestone walls and water displays. ‘This is like a five-star hotel,’ one security guard told me. ‘It has two helipads, two swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, restaurant… all the latest technology.’
This £9 million palace in Sudra, just weeks away from opening, was designed for Mahmoud Abbas – a president whose domain is so dependent on aid that last year his Palestinian Authority had to pass an emergency budget when some was held up by Israel.
Grand: Ian Birrell at the £8million presidential palace on the westbank - built by a country that got £72million in foreign aid
Britain is sending £72 million this year to Palestine, where there is high unemployment, widespread poverty and one in three people are on food aid. Yet cash pours into Abbas’s pet project. A local man said: ‘When people pass here, they spit on the ground.’
In a nearby refugee camp holding 14,000 people, I asked the council leader his view of the palace. ‘Spitting is the least I want to do when I see it – I want to demolish it myself,’ said Mahmoud Mubarak, who added they were struggling to find cash for a community hall. ‘When a young Palestinian sees this going up, they wonder why it is being built with funds that should go on the people.
‘If you sit at home with a leaking roof, no food, no money and no job, it’s very upsetting,’ he said.
Queue for UK aid money...for jobs that don't exist
In Gaza – a place where there is rampant poverty – I witnessed bizarre scenes: long queues of people at bank cashpoints.
It was pay day for thousands of civil servants whose salaries are supported by Western aid, even though they have had no jobs since 2007.
Mahmoud, an accountant, said he was given more than £1,000 a month. ‘I just sit at home, spending time with my family. Sometimes I travel abroad to visit relatives,’ he said.
Others admitted to second jobs as shopkeepers and taxi drivers. One ex-teacher, who still draws his £6,000-a-year salary, confessed to running a dairy, completing a master’s degree in Britain and working as a journalist.
Money for nothing: The unemployed collect 'salaries' in Gaza for jobs that don't even exist
‘Getting paid from Britain while living here means you can have a good life,’ he said, although he added that his home was devastated in Israeli air strikes two years ago.
The salary payments are a legacy of the Palestinian divisions since Hamas took control of Gaza from Fatah, the rival faction recognised by the international community.
At least 60,000 officials were told to stop working by Fatah yet are still being paid. Many of them have been replaced by Hamas officials.
Mohammad Aboshair, 37, a police officer, said: ‘We hoped it would not last long. It is really wrong to stay in our homes and get paid without jobs. I wanted to serve my country, not become a burden – this is crazy.’ Three years ago auditors urged the EU to stop the salaries.
Critics condemned ‘blatant misuse of taxpayers’ money’ that undermined the credibility of Brussels when millions of Europeans were jobless. Dfid sources said the cash went only to civil servants on an approved EU list and insisted they took precautions to ensure British aid did not support Hamas.