Declassified documents reveal that an extremist Islamist group broke into an NGO office and obtained several thousands of dollars worth of Canadian aid intended for Syria.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) obtained a number of electronic devices, including three laptops, four projectors, two cellphones, 13 iPads and a radio from a warehouse in the country’s northwest region.
HTS is a listed terrorist entity suspected to have links with Al-Qaeda by Public Safety Canada. The group’s intended goal is to create an Islamic state in Syria and overthrow the current regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
According to Public Safety Canada, the group is responsible for “nearly 600 attacks – such as ambushes, kidnappings, assassinations, Improvised Explosive Device attacks and suicide bombings.”
Reports indicate that around 10 terrorists broke into a facility operated by the U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which was winding down its operations in the area. Last year CRS received approximately $1.8 million from Canadian taxpayers in foreign aid.
According to the Center for Strategic & International Studies, HTS numbers between 12,000 to 15,000 terrorists and is primarily located in Syria’s Idlib province, where the attack took place.
This is not the first instance where Canadian foreign aid has either disappeared or been stolen. In 2018, the U.S. Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reported that billions in aid for the country from western nations, including Canada, were wasted due to corruption and poor oversight.
Earlier this year, Global Affairs Canada announced that taxpayers will provide an additional $50 million in aid to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
“This funding will be allocated to United Nations agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross and go toward meeting the basic needs of crisis-affected people, including through the provision of food assistance; protection; comprehensive health services; and water, sanitation and hygiene,” stated a government news release.
The equipment stolen by HTS will likely be used to further aid the terror cell’s communication efforts and to help spread propaganda in order to recruit people to its cause.