Islamic Relief Worldwide has had over 500 audits over the last ten years partly as a result of a hostile operating environment, the charity’s chief executive said in an interview in Governance & Leadership magazine.
Naser Haghamed, the charity’s chief executive, and Lamia El Amri, the charity’s chair, were both interviewed by Governance & Leadership magazine.
They spoke about the struggles the charity has faced over the last ten years as it has faced numerous allegations of links to terrorism. Its Wikipedia page concludes with a section headed ‘Controversy and allegations of terror links’, much of which Haghamed and El Amri reject as inaccurate.
Haghamed, who has been with the charity since 1999 and chief executive since 2013, said: “In the past ten years we have had over 500 audits and none have ever found any evidence of terrorist or extremist links to Islamic Relief.”
“A lot of our income comes from institutional funding bodies such as the Department for International Development and the United Nations, so we are regularly audited. Some of these audits are really quite intrusive, but nothing has ever been found.
“We abhor terrorism and categorically deny any links with any terrorist organisation or individuals. We have lost staff to acts of terror and violence in many parts of the world – this has made us more determined to ensure that aid reaches its intended recipients and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.”
Islamic Relief Worldwide has said that it is currently working on a governance restructure which aims to increase diversity among its governors in the UK and globally and improve accountability within the Islamic Relief family.
El Amri became the charity’s first and only woman trustee when she joined the board in 2013.
She said: ““We have had a female director at senior management level but I am the only board member. “I don’t think that’s enough, I’m not proud of this, or satisfied with it. I am passionate about gender equality and diversity so I want to see a board that reflects the incredible diversity of the communities we serve and our supporter base around the world, so we are working on that.
IRW has also strengthened its lines of communication, including its crisis management team. Due to negative media coverage the charity has received in the past, the charity provides “regular updates to all our stakeholders, the Charity Commission, banks. Even if there is the smallest negative media coverage about IR, we are proactive and inform them all immediately.”