How your generosity could be helping extremists

FIRST ON 7: The good intentions of generous Australians are feeding the evil acts of terrorists.

7News can reveal some of our charity donations are ending up in the hands of terror organisations like Islamic State.

They are large sums, according to Government agencies, who are warning Australians to be careful who they give to.

Australians donate about $1-billion every year, but intelligence agencies have discovered that some of that money is ending up in the hands of terrorists.

AUSTRAC, the money-laundering and terrorism financing unit, warns that "relatively large amounts of money" are being diverted from Australian charities to extremist organisations like Islamic State.

It's "one of the more significant Australian terrorism financing channels" with "funds sent to Syria for humanitarian aid are at increased risk".

And it is great concern to the charities regulator.


"We take it very seriously because the consequences would be catastrophic," the Australian Charities Commission's Susan Pascoe said. "It's a very low form of life. A very low activity."

It's happening in two ways; people donate to a sham charity, who divert the funds around the intended humanitarian cause, and send it directly to terrorists.

Or they give to legitimate charities, and are conned by phony humanitarian organisations in war zones that divert funds to extremists.

So money from kind-hearted Australians is buying guns for Islamic State fighters and worse.

The Government has set up a multi-agency taskforce to fight this new threat, funded through the recent Budget.

It involves the Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission, AUSTRAC, and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Shi'ite paramilitaries riding military vehicles travel from Lake Tharthar toward Ramadi to fight against Islamic state militants, west of Samarra, Iraq May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Shi'ite paramilitaries riding military vehicles travel from Lake Tharthar toward Ramadi to fight against Islamic state militants, west of Samarra, Iraq May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

"It puts them all in one place to track down serious financial crimes and there is no more serious crime than funding terrorists," Counter-Terrorism Minister Michael Keenan said.

Australia has 60,000 registered charities, with 10,000 of them funding overseas causes.

The major charities Australians give to are unaffected, national security and secrecy laws prevent authorities, and 7News from saying which charities are involved and how much money is going to terrorists.

The Charities regulator's advice is to keep giving, but just be careful who you give to.

"The advice would really be to give to a registered charity," the Charities Commission's Susan Pascoe said

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting