Dagestani Israil Akhmednabiyev, known as Abu Umar Sasitlinsky, gained respect among the Muslims of the former Soviet Union by his charitable activities. His first large-scale project was the Khafiz School in the Dagestan village of Novo-Sasitli. Eventually, authorities took away the school, but the trust in Abu Umar has only grown since then. His philanthropic activities developed simultaneously with the preaching work: his lectures on issues relevant to most Muslims were widely distributed on the Internet.
Periodically, the FSB disperses propaganda waves against the preacher and benefactor, seeking to defame his name, and credits him with financing extremist groups. At the same time, members of the security services and the media under their control do not bother to search for plausible facts. The last attempt happened in December 2018. At that time, the FSB claimed that a group of seven people allegedly raised 38 million rubles to finance the Islamic State and Jabhat al Nusra, which the Russian court had banned. It is obvious that the statement of the Chekists was intended for the average reader, who has no idea about the hard confrontation between the mentioned groups. And now a new attempt to defame the name of Abu Umar takes place: in May, the Russian secret services detained a Muslim from Ossetia, who, according to the FSB, organized a shipment of 50 million rubles through the funds controlled by Abu Umar to finance a terrorist organization. According to the wife of the arrested and himself, they never had such amounts of money, and he donated several thousand rubles to the needs of the African poor. “How can you send money to ISIL through Sberbank?” Abu Umar wonders. He is confident that the poor man is simply used in a dirty information war against his charitable initiatives.
It is not easy to state that Abu Umaru Sasitlinkiy supports extremists. He is charged with financing the IS terrorists, but since this organization appeared in Syria, the preacher has not been to this country. He emphasizes: the terrorist organization of IS seized cities, banks, warehouses with weapons, minted gold coins itself, therefore, to assert that this organization needs donations collected in rubles is simply ridiculous. In this case, according to Abu Umar, the story of a Muslim transferring 50 million rubles from Ossetia to terrorists is absolutely fantastic because of the size of the sum and because the young guy has no chances to have this amount of money.
Abu Umar has been without a break in one of the poorest countries in the world – Niger for almost three years. In this country, people suffer from a lack of drinking water, poor sanitation and low living standards. In Niger, the Sasitlinskiy Foundation is implementing a project to create wells, as well as build schools and mosques with donations from Muslims from all over the world.
In a comment to the VAYFOND website, Abu Umar ruled out the possibility of misuse of funds. According to him, in fact, there are three levels of control over the spending of donations. The first is the Muslim report before Allah. The second is the donors themselves, who have the opportunity to get acquainted with the result of the work of contractors and the use of donations. “The donor may at any time request and receive information on how the funds were used. We give a name to every well, and even if the donor does not want to call it by this name we explain that it is a rule. In addition, the Nigerian authorities are checking the receipt and use of the funds received” said Abu Umar. He also recalled that over the years of charitable foundations, to the creation of which he was related, not a single fact of the misuse of donations was revealed. According to him, today the funds associated with it are implementing charity projects in Niger, Bangladesh, Turkey, Russia, Palestine. Abu Umar noted that the supervising financial authorities of the countries in which the funds are registered carefully monitor the movement of funds: “much tougher than in Russia”.
According to the preacher and philanthropist, the next information attack on him and his team has the exact opposite effect: instead of scaring and pushing away donors, after publication in the media controlled by the FSB, the donations increased. Accordingly, the number of constructed wells is growing.
As a possible reason for the incessant attacks on him, Abu Umar called the lack of control of his funds to the special services and the desire to prevent his important work for society. The founder of the Living Heart Foundation (- previously Muhajirun) is calm for the future of his projects. “The system is built in such a way that even if they kill me, it will continue to work,” said Abu Umar. He once again stressed that he had no relation to the IS terrorists or to other extremist groups.
Bashkir human rights activist Tagir Minibayev, commenting on the VAYFOND website information provocation of special services against Abu Umar Sasitlinskiy, suggested that the independence of the preacher and philanthropist, as well as his work to unite the Muslim community, irritates some Russian authorities. “If a supporter of “traditional” Islam goes to a charitable mission or one who divides Muslims and makes harm to Muslim society, the regime in the Russian Federation will only help them,” said Minibayev. He recalled the story of the Bashkir activist Fazil Akhmetshin, who, during his return from a charity mission in Kenya in 2011, was planted drugs and sentenced to 4 years and 4 months in prison.
According to Abu Umar himself, information provocations of special services can have temporary success and influence the minds of citizens only in a situation where Muslims do not have their own media. But even under such conditions, any sensible reader realizes that it is unrealistic to spend an amount of tens of millions of rubles through funds accounts without any control these days. Meanwhile, the Living Heart Foundation took into account the experience of provocations and took care of the safety of donors. Residents of Russia and any other country can transfer funds to the official details of the organization, which are legally binding in the UK. You can find more information on the organization’s website.
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