On 3 December 2018, the Charity Commission issued an alert warning charities operating in Syria or Turkey about the risk of inadvertently funding terrorist organisations when using the Bab Al-Hawa crossing to deliver cross-border financial aid.
This follows media reports, since September 2018, that the crossing is under the control of Hay’at Tahir Al-Sham (HTS), an alternative name for the terrorist organisation Al Qa’ida. Both organisations are proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT 2000).
The Commission is concerned that HTS may incur financial benefit when charities use the crossing to deliver aid into the Idlib province in Syria. It is a criminal offence to enter, or become concerned with, an arrangement as a result of which money or other property is made available for the purposes of terrorism, or there is reasonable cause to suspect that it will, or may, be used for such purposes (section 17, TACT 2000).
The regulator has advised charities that use partners to deliver aid from Turkey to Syria to ensure that they know which border crossings are being used and regularly review the situation on the ground. It warns that it may treat any association between a charity and terrorism as evidence of misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of a charity (see Practice note, Charity Commission inquiries and regulatory powers: overview).
Any charities that have used the Bab Al-Hawa crossing since September 2018, either directly or indirectly through a partner organisation, may be required to make a report under section 19 of TACT 2000 (see Legal update, Charity regulator issues advice on reporting terrorist financing offences). The Commission also expects charity trustees to make a serious incident report of any suspected loss to a terrorist group (see Practice note, Duties of charity trustees: an overview: Reporting serious incidents).
For detailed guidance on terrorist financing offences, see Practice note, Terrorist financing offences: use and possession, funding arrangements and money laundering.
Source: Charity Commission: Alert for charities operating in Syria or Turkey about aid passing through the Bab Al-Hawa crossing (3 December 2018).