Founded in Canada in 1980 as a subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mercy International (MI) originally went by the name Human Concern International (HCI). Its purpose at that time was to support the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union, and to help Afghans who had fled the war in their homeland and taken up residence in Pakistan.
In 1989, HCI changed its name to Mercy International-USA (MI) and established its new headquarters in Michigan. The organization also maintained branch offices in such far-flung locations as Albania, Bosnia, Canada, Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Switzerland. Some of these regional chapters had names that differed slightly from one another; e.g., the Canadian branch was known as the Mercy International Relief Agency.
In MI's earliest days its Pakistan chapter was headed by Ahmed Khadr, a close associate of Osama bin Laden.
Khadr was succeeded in this post in 1988 by Zahid Shaikh Mohammed (ZSM), the brother of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
ZSM retained his post with MI until about February 1995, when Ramzi Yousef was arrested in Pakistan. At that point, investigators learned that Yousef, who had ZSM's telephone number listed in his private directory, had been conducting phone correspondence with MI's Pakistan office. Pakistani investigators promptly raided MI's local headquarters but failed to apprehend ZSM, who had already fled.
Anthony Elgindy donated money to Mercy USA
Al-Qaeda operative L'Houssaine Khertchou later testified, during his 2001 trial, that his organization was interacting on a regular basis with MI's Kenya branch, which employed a number of al Qaeda operatives. Khertchou further revealed that MI—in collaboration with the International Islamic Relief Organization—had helped bankroll the 1998 embassy bombings.
As of 1999, Khaldoun Dia Eddine, manager of MI's Albania chapter, also served as head of the Gulf Office—an Al Taqwa Bank subsidiary that the Italian government had investigated five years earlier for its ties to an Algerian militant group affiliated with al Qaeda.
U.S. investigators uncovered a financial link between MI and Baitul Mal Inc. (BMI), a New Jersey-based investment firm with connections to many suspected terrorist financiers—including some affiliated with Hamas and al Qaeda.
Mercy may have ties in Bosnia to the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia.
Jamal a Fadl, a defector from bin Laden's organisation, reportedly said that money for terrorists acts and the maintenance of the organisation's cells was channelled through the Dublin-based Mercy International Relief Agency.
Mercys registered address in Ireland was, 25 Airfield Court, Donnybrook, Dublin
--- Late 1996-August 20, 1998: US Intelligence Monitors Charity Tied to Al-Qaeda Cell in KenyaEdit event US intelligence begins monitoring telephones connected to the Kenyan branch of the charity Mercy International. By mid-1996, US intelligence began wiretapping telephones belonging to Wadih El-Hage, an al-Qaeda operative living in Nairobi, Kenya, and the NSA is also monitoring bin Laden’s satellite phone. By the end of 1996, the number of monitored phones in Kenya increases to five, and two of those are to Mercy International’s offices. What led investigators to this charity is unknown, and details of the calls have never been revealed. [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/13/2001] The Mercy International office will be raided shortly after the 1998 African embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998), and incriminating files belonging to El-Hage will be found there (see October 1997). It will be discovered that the office worked closely with al-Qaeda. For instance, it issued identity cards for al-Qaeda leaders Ali Mohamed, Mohammed Atef, and even bin Laden himself. [BERGEN, 2001, PP. 140; FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/28/2001] An al-Qaeda defector, L’Houssaine Kherchtou, will testify in a 2001 trial that al-Qaeda was heavily interacting with Mercy International’s Kenya branch, and a number of employees there, including the manager and accountant, were actually al-Qaeda operatives. [UNITED STATE OF AMERICA V. USAMA BIN LADEN, ET AL., DAY 8, 2/21/2001] A receipt dated just two weeks before the embassy bombings made a reference to “getting the weapons from Somalia.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/22/2000] Most crucially, there were a number of calls between Mercy director Ahmad Sheik Adam and bin Laden. [EAST AFRICAN, 2/16/2000] And Adam’s mobile phone was used 12 times by El-Hage to speak to bin Laden or his associates. Presumably, such calls would have drawn obvious attention to the Kenya al-Qaeda cell and their embassy attack plans, yet none of the cell members were arrested until after the attack. The Kenya branch of Mercy International will be shut down by the end of 1998, but in 2001 it will be reported that Adam continues to live in Kenya and has not been arrested
Terror Trial Witness Gives More Details on Training With al-Qaida By ADAM KLASFELD
MANHATTAN (CN) - A tearful government witness said he was chosen to be trained as Osama bin Laden's personal pilot, until al-Qaida's coffers "dried up" during an economic slump. Kherchtou said that al-Qaida devoted one of its "wings" to tracking international media attention, which began with "just collecting news and putting them into magazines." This branch of the terror group eventually published a "huge" Encyclopedia of Jihad, which Kherchtou said his colleagues "typed, edited" and put in "nice" form. Kherchtou's testimony on Tuesday ended after he described finishing his time in Pakistani training camps in 1991. A year later, al-Qaida relocated from Afghanistan to Sudan, which had implemented sharia law, and wanted to train Muslims to fight and establish dominance in the land. Kherchtou said he followed al-Qaida to Africa, traveling back and forth from Khartoum, Sudan to Nairobi, Kenya, where he went to flight school and become bin Laden's pilot. He said he was probably handpicked because instruction was in English, and he was one of the few al-Qaida trainers who could speak the language. To travel between countries, many al-Qaida members forged IDs from Mercy International, a nongovernmental organization that provides humanitarian services to orphans and refugees, Kherchtou testified. He said the charity group tried to put a stop to this when it found out, so fellow al-Qaida member Wadih El-Hage founded his own NGO, called Help Africa People. By the end of 1995, al-Qaida's money was "drying up" and the organization tried a number of businesses that failed in the long term, including diamond trafficking, fishing and kiosks, Kherchtou said. By then, the Taliban had gained control of large parts of Afghanistan, and al-Qaida decided to return to that country from Sudan.
Tied to Mercy is Hamid Aich: A known associate of terrorists Ahmed Ressam and Abdel Majid Dahoumane, who are now prime suspects as organisers of international terrorism. Ressam is facing terrorist charges in Seattle, Washington, after allegedly trying to enter the United States with high-explosive powders and liquids, and timer devices.
His associate, Aich, was arrested at a house at Verschoyle Heights in Tallaght last Christmas. They are both said to be highly-placed members of the militant Islamic Jihad, which is funded and controlled by bin Laden.
Aich, 34, is the key suspect for the 1997 gun attack in Egypt in which 71 tourists were killed.
Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, a Saudi Arabian who is listed as a director of the Dublin branch of Mercy International, is an Islamic fundamentalist and scholar and author of The Day of Wrath, which asks if the Intifada (holy war) is "only the beginning".
In his 1996 pamphlet Declaration of War against the Americans, bin Laden writes of the killing and arrests of Muslim leaders: "By orders from the USA they [Zionist crusaders] also arrested a large number of scholars, among them the prominent Sheikh Safar al-Hawali."
According to bin Laden's "declaration", terrorist attacks in Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu proved that America had been "disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weakness became very clear".
On June 3, 2001, a British newspaper reveals that Hamid Aich, who is on the FBI’s international wanted list, is living in Dublin where he is applying for asylum. Irish intelligence has been monitoring Aich’s movements since 1997, when authorities tied him to the mass murder of 77 tourists in Luxor, Egypt. It is believed that between 1999 and 2001, Aich assisted 22 Islamic terrorist organizations, and even funded non-Islamic groups, for instance giving $200,000 to the ETA, a separatist group in the Basque region of Spain. Aich was also the director of Mercy International’s Ireland branch. On July 24, he leaves Ireland using a false passport. He has not been heard of since. After 9/11, Aich will be described as “one of the FBI’s chief targets” and “one of bin Laden’s most trusted men” who ranks seventh in al-Qaeda’s hierarchy.
Hamid Aich was believed to have been involved in the foiled plot to attack the Los Angeles airport during the Millennium celebrations. He was an associate of Millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam, who was captured attempting to bring explosive materials into the US in December 1999
An FBI counterterrorism team has found documents in Dublin, Ireland, linking Zacarias Moussaoui to an Al Qaeda cell there and one of Usama bin Laden's money men, Fox News has learned.
U.S. investigators say the documents seized in Dublin associated Moussaoui with the false documents operation and an Al Qaeda operative who has supplied cash to terrorists-in-transit named Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi. Al-Hisawi is a Saudi businessman who was identified earlier this year by the FBI and Treasury Department as an Al Qaeda cash courier.
Sources say documents were found in an apartment in the "Donnybrook" suburb of Dublin near the mosque. The apartment once housed offices of the Mercy International Relief Agency, a defunct bin Laden-sponsored front charity.
In 1999, a former BMI accountant contacts the FBI and says that he believes BMI is supporting terrorism. He claims that money he “was transferring overseas on behalf of the company may have been used to finance the embassy bombings in Africa.” US investigators establish a financial link between BMI and an Islamic charity named Mercy International. A Nairobi, Kenya, branch of that charity helped support the embassy bombings. FBI agent Robert Wright’s Vulgar Betrayal investigation had recently discovered evidence suggesting a link between Saudi multimillionaire Yassin al-Qadi and the embassy bombings and al-Qadi is a major investor of BMI.
The Mercy International Relief Agency was linked to similar "charities" in Dublin, London, Montreal and New York. Jamal a Fadl, a defector from bin Laden's organisation, known by its Arabic title Al Qaeda (The Base), entered a witness-protection programme in the US and gave evidence against his former fundamentalist colleagues.
He said that money for terrorists acts and the maintenance of the organisation's cells was channelled through the Dublin-based Mercy International Relief Agency.