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23 state AGs call on Congress to defund UN agency for its ties to terrorism

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(The Center Square) – A coalition of 23 attorneys general led by Utah and South Carolina have called on Congress to permanently defund a United Nations agency after learning of its ties to the terrorist organization Hamas.

In a letter to congressional leaders, they said, “The United States must stop funding antisemitic education efforts run by the United Nations body tied to terror organization Hamas. On Oct. 7, UNRWA staff participated in the worst pogrom against Jews since the Holocaust.”

The agency responsible for providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, denied knowing that Hamas established intelligence operations directly below and in its headquarters in Gaza. Israeli Security Agency operatives raided UNRWA’s headquarters earlier this year and found large quantities of weapons, rifles, ammunition, grenades and explosives in its offices, as well as a 700-meter long and 18-meter deep tunnel below, the Times of Israel reported.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, Hamas has refused to share fuel with hospitals, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Congress. Multiple reports revealed that Hamas was storing weapons and munitions in hospitals and schools, preventing food and water from reaching civilians, The Center Square reported.

In January, UNRWA announced it had fired more than a dozen employees for participating in the Oct. 7 attack. But a coalition of attorneys general weren’t convinced and called on Congress to defund UNRWA. Twenty-six AGs led by Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said, “UNRWA’s ties to terrorism are nothing new. UNRWA employed one school principal who moonlit as an Islamic Jihad bomber and another who was a Hamas commandant. One UNRWA school teacher is accused of detaining an October 7 hostage for nearly two months … [and] every UNRWA school the Israeli Defense Forces searched contained hidden weapons.”

Under former President Donald Trump, the U.S. stopped all federal funding to UNRWA in 2018. President Joe Biden reinstated the funding on his first day in office. In his first term alone, U.S. taxpayers have funded UNRWA to the tune of $1 billion.

“For even a single taxpayer dollar to fund a corrupt organization that hires and harbors terrorists is despicable,” Bird said. “President Trump got it right when he stopped payments to UNRWA in 2018. It’s the federal government’s job to prosecute terrorists, not fund them. We’re calling on Congress to take immediate action and defund UNRWA once and for all.”

On Tuesday, a second coalition of 23 AGs again called on Congress to fully defund UNRWA. “We call on Congress to stop funding this nascent and growing terror threat,” they said. “Radicalization in the Middle East today can lead to future attacks on the United States, our citizens, and our allies. Recognizing that, President Trump cut funding to UNRWA that was only restored after President Biden took office. Just as with the crisis at the border, President Biden should recognize that it is time to adopt the right policy of his predecessor.”

The coalition includes attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

In addition to funding the UNRWA, Biden ignored calls by House and Senate Republicans to rescind visas of pro-Hamas individuals living in the U.S. Senate Democrats also blocked any attempt to deport Hamas sympathizers.

As Palestinians and pro-Hamas supporters increasingly called for the death of Jews, the annihilation of Israel, and Jewish Americans on college campuses were targeted with violence, Biden expanded measures to prevent “certain Palestinians” from being deported, The Center Square reported. He is also reportedly considering offering refugee status to Palestinians in the U.S. when nearly all Islamic countries will not take them. Neighboring Egypt fortified its wall and security forces to block illegal entry from Gaza.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has for months warned that Hamas and Islamic extremists could commit a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. More recently, he acknowledged that groups affiliated with ISIS were coming through the U.S. border, The Center Square reported.

This is after the greatest number of known or suspected terrorists (KSTs) have been apprehended illegally entering the U.S. under the current administration. Fiscal year 2024 through April 24, 235 KSTs have been apprehended, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. The majority, by a margin of 2-1, are being apprehended at the northern border.

In fiscal 2023, 736 KSTs were apprehended nationwide – the greatest number in recorded U.S. history. The significant majority – 66%, or 487– were apprehended at the northern border.