Bishop's charity accused of funding terrorism

Sun 14 Jul 2019
By Heather Preston

An investigation has been launched into a Christian charity accused of funding terrorism after paying ISIS ransom to release Christian hostages.

The freedom charity Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation (ACERO) had its funds frozen following concerns that the charity had been involved in financing terrorist activity, after labelling account payments of £147,689 for "Iraq Hostages".

The organisations records have been seized by the National Terrorist Investigation Unit.


The Bishop of Syria, Mar Afrram Athneil is the charity's chairman and helped to free 226 Christians, kidnapped from northern Syria in 2015, by raising millions in ransom money.

Since the launch of the investigation, Bishop Athneil has sought to distance his actions from the British charity, claiming that they were made in his role as a Bishop, to protect his country's "flock".

Speaking to the Sunday Times he said: "This had nothing to do with ACERO UK. What happened in this situation is between me and God."

ACERO have insisted the money was not sent to Syria and was for humanitarian relief in Iraq, sent after the hostages had been released.

Secretary of ACERO, Mr Andy Darmoo has argued that the authorities have no evidence of money being sent to Syria from the organisation and has demanded any apology.


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