Charitable offers don’t come much weirder than this.
It has emerged that the cash-strapped US government has rejected an offer of aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. This offer comes from one Hafiz Saeed, founder of the terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taibar. This group was allegedly behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks and is currently outlawed in Pakistan.
Did I mention the US$10 million bounty on Saeed’s head?
Speaking for Jamaat ud Dawa, the charitable wing of his terror cell, Saeed states that “We are ready to send food items, medicines and doctors to the US for the people affected by the storm”. He later went on to say that, despite US antagonism, it was his “Islamic duty” to lend aid during the present crisis.
The US Embassy in Pakistan responded to Saeed’s offer on Twitter, stating that “we can’t take Hafiz Saeed’s offer seriously” and further describing it as “hollow”. They might be right – it’s possible that the offer is little more than a PR stunt, and that Saeed is taking an opportunistic jab at the US authorities.
Whilst it might seem a little counterintuitive for an organisation accused of habitually slaughtering civilians to offer aid to one of their greatest opponents, this is not the first time the US has rejected aid from an unlikely source. Following Hurricane Katrina, the US rejected a similar offer from Cuba to send doctors and medicine.
However, there is the possibility that Saeed’s offer of aid is serious, evoking as it does the Islamic concept of zakat, or charity. If so, then the US is throwing resources away that could be used to help alleviate the widespread devastation in New York and New Jersey, areas which were recently declared ‘major disaster zones’.
The US has nothing to lose, except its pride. Despite a huge national deficit, and an ongoing row over the funding of FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), US officials will not accept aid from every source and the victims of Hurricane Sandy could very well suffer for it.
Featured picture of Hurricane Sandy from 29th of October, courtesy of Johnson Space Center, NASA.