George Bernard Shaw, once said “Beware of false information, it is more dangerous than ignorance”. The quote specially holds true to its essence in the hyper-real world of today where what we see on the internet and what we perceive are two different sides of a coin. A blue tick account, retweets in hundreds and prominent following have lately become the parameters to judge the authenticity and reliability of any news disseminated but digging underneath has become the need of the hour in order to grasp the true facts and not disinformation.
A recent report by a prominent think-tank Disinfo Lab(@DisinfoLab) has dredged up a similar pattern where a leading US organization, USCIRF who recently gave India the status of “Country of Particular Concern” claims to be a “bipartisan federal government entity that monitors, analyzes, and reports on threats to religious freedom” has been running a bogus agenda of defaming and maligning the image of South-Asia’s largest nation. United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is a US government alleged organization which monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad but not many are acquainted with its ulterior motives and the army of swindlers who are acting as the backbone of this alleged organization. Around the year 2013-14, the organization has become a notable target of a well-orchestrated influence operations from the Islamist influenced groups like Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) to flourish their agenda of targeting India through the reports of USCIRF. Most of the members comprising this organization belongs to the Christian missionary. In the report released by them in the year 2020, it has designated India as a CPC which decodes to Country of Particular Concern. It is designated by the United States Secretary of State (under authority delegated by the President) of a nation guilty of particularly severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 (H.R. 2431). The term “particularly severe violations of religious freedom” means systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom. Conferring India with the title of CPC implies two things. First, it tarnishes the image of India worldwide and second, both the FDI and global investments gets heavily impacted as countries take a backseat when it comes to investing huge amounts.
The influential members of this organization who are working as a bedrock in amplifying their bogus agenda includes: Anurima Bhargava who is chairing the USCIRF’s 2021 annual report. She has been the fellow of Open Society Foundation, founded by George Soros, the man who’s an ardent critic of China, Russia and India, claiming their leaders as dictators and their rule as a totalitarian setup. Interestingly, USCIRF’s reports too have been highly critical of these three nations. Another member is Nadine Maenza who is the commissioner of USCIRF elected in the year 2018. She has been managing US politician Rick Santorum political campaign from 2012 and founded the platform Patriot Voices with him in the same year. Her another colleague Terry Allen is a lobbyist who has been making a mint by lobbying against India. His company FGR (Fidelis Government Relations) was hired by Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) to lobby USCIRF to directly target India. FGR was paid $ 40K between 2013 and 2014 alone by IAMC to taint India’s image.
Nadine Maenza is also the board member of Hardwired Global whose advisory member is Angana Chatterji, who has also been seen frequently with Gulam Nabi Fai, the same person who was found guilty in 2011 by the FBI for concealing the transfer of USD 3.5 million from US to Pakistan and has been lobbying for Kashmiri separatists at the behest of ISI.
Another name in the list is of Harrison Akins who was the ‘Senior Policy Analyst for South Asia’ in 2020 Report. Akins was Ibn Khaldun’s Chair and a Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Services, where his mentor was Akbar Ahmad, a former Pakistani High Commissioner to UK. Akins social media profiles show his various interactions with several Pakistani officials/ Diplomats. All of them are seen on platforms of IAMC and Justice for All – JFA (an ICNA Front). It may not be a coincidence that the three are the same organizations that hire professional lobby firms to influence USCIRF against India.
Another organization which garners major traction is India America Center for Social Justice (IACSJ) which claims to work for social justice in “India”. IACSJ is reincarnated from IAMC. The organization’s very first follower on Twitter was none other than Nadine which thereby connects the dots of whole nexus. The website of IACSJ was registered on April 28th 2020, i.e., the same day when USCIRF’s 2020 report was launched. One of the founding members of IACSJ is Syed Ali who is the vice-President of India America Muslim Council (IAMC).
Interesting thing to note over here is that all the Facebook advertisements run by IAMC to collect donation “for India” is under the name of Syed Ali only. These donations were collected at an all-time peak during the CAA-NRC rights when India’s governance was going through disruption and burning in religious turmoil.
India in return has long back mapped their vicious agenda and as a result USCIRF’s report had been rejected by India all along during various Governments and the representatives of this spurious organization have not been allowed to visit India owing to its bias nature of report including in the years 2009 and 2019.
Thus, the relevance of fact-check becomes all the more important over here as an informed citizen needs to be aware about what is being served to their plate. Institutions like USCIRF which carries social as well moral responsibility of bringing out the truth should be objective and nonpartisan in their approach.