The U.S. counterterrorism framework impedes the work of legitimate nonprofit organizations (NPOs) in two ways: first, it prohibits anyone from engaging in a wide range of broadly defined activities that involve listed terrorist organizations, regardless of the purpose or intent behind such engagement. Violating “material support” laws can result in criminal prosecution, extensive jail time, and fines.

Second, it allows the government to list U.S. charities as supporters of designated terrorist organizations and thereby seize their assets, including their donations, without the benefit of basic due process rights such as notification or adequate opportunity to challenge the listing. 

Read more about this issue in our Background section. 

Featured Resources

Fixing “Material Support” — Lessons from the Houthi Terror Designation
Perils of Humanitarianism in Today’s World of Conflict
Webinar Recording: Ten Years After the Humanitarian Law Project Decision – Fixing the Damage

Designated Terrorist Lists

July 17th, 2019|

The primary prohibition on material support of terrorism is in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), which prohibits material support to Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) designated by the Secretary of State. In

Material Support Definitions

July 11th, 2019|

Material support is defined somewhat differently in different contexts, making it difficult for nonprofit organizations to navigate the prohibition when working in areas controlled by or in proximity to listed terrorist groups. The primary