Political Scientist: Patriot Act Blocked Aid to Somalis
Humanitarian groups withheld aid from Somalis suffering the effects of a severe drought that killed tens of thousands and displaced more than a million people last year out of fear that their assistance would amount to material support for regional terrorists under the U.S. Patriot Act, a Davidson College professor says. –ARK
Inter Press Service:
… [political science professor Ken] Menkhaus said humanitarian organisations suspended food aid delivery to drought- struck areas controlled by Al-Shabaab for fear of violating the USA Patriot Act.
Congress passed the Act in 2001 as part of its response to the Sep. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon and under it, anyone who provides material benefits, even if unwittingly, to a designated terrorist group, could face the most severe penalties.
Given that Al-Shabaab – the Somali cell of the militant Islamist Al-Qaeda, fighting the Federal Transitional Government (FTG) in Somalia and controlling vast swathes of the south except the capital Mogadishu – is designated a terrorist organisation by the U.S., humanitarian groups were fearful that an accusation of ‘aiding terrorists’ could damage their entire organisation.