Millions of pounds donated to help Syrian refugees caught up in the bloody civil war is being used to fund terrorism, the charity watchdog believes.
The Charity Commission said cash ‘undoubtedly’ ends up in the hands of extremist groups, while the Disasters Emergency Committee said it could not guarantee that some of the £20million it has raised has not bankrolled jihadists.
William Shawcross, chairman of the commission, said: ‘A lot of money is raised that goes to Syria, some of it undoubtedly goes to extremist groups… It is very hard for all organisations to determine that.’
Peter Clarke, a former head of anti-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police who sits on the board of the commission, said: ‘Once you get into these very difficult, dangerous areas it is hugely difficult for charities to track the final destination of their funds.
‘It is one of these “fog of war” issues where stuff can be diverted.’
He added: ‘We know there is some abuse of charities by extremist terrorist organisations but the likelihood is the full extent of this will never be known.’
A spokesman for the Disasters Emergency Committee, of which the Red Cross and Oxfam are members, said it is ‘never possible’ to entirely eliminate such risks.
He said it had not heard about any losses or fraud involving its Syria Crisis Appeal.