FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: OFAC LICENSE
The Syrian Support Group, Inc. (“SSG”) received a license (the “License”) from the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control (“OFAC”) that permits the organization to raise funds and provide certain services to the Free Syrian Army (the “FSA”). The following “frequently asked questions” provide additional details regarding the scope and application of the License.
Q.1. Who is the Syrian Support Group?
A – SSG is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization formed to support the establishment of a free, independent and democratic Syria. Towards that end, it seeks to facilitate, through all legal means, the protection of Syrian civilians during their historic struggle for freedom against the Assad regime.
Q.2. What does the License provide?
A – The License gives SSG the ability to legally raise funds and provide certain logistical, communications and other services to the FSA. U.S. citizens are generally prohibited under U.S. sanctions on Syria from providing financial or material support to individuals or organizations within Syria absent a license from OFAC.
Q.3. Who is the Free Syrian Army?
A – The “Free Syrian Army” is a national coalition of affiliated armed rebel groups operating in Syria. The FSA functions more as an umbrella organization than a traditional military command. The FSA is principally organized around provincial military councils, which bring together previously independent militias and brigades. Independent and semi-independent militias also operate under the guise of the FSA.
The FSA was formed when thousands of soldiers defected from the army rather than carry out orders to shoot and kill unarmed civilians. The FSA also includes a substantial number of civilians who have taken up arms to protect their neighborhoods and communities from Assad’s brutality.
Q.4. How can the SSG assure that funds will not go to Al-Qaeda or other extremist groups?
A – SSG acknowledges reports of increasing Al-Qaeda and other extremist activity within Syria. SSG hopes to serve as a counter-weight to this development and will only provide financial support to military councils who have adopted the Free Syrian Army’s Proclamation of Principles (the “Proclamation”). The Proclamation outlines the FSA’s commitment to a democratic Syria for all Syrians regardless of sect or ethnicity, the Rule of Law, and its rejection of extremism, terrorism and revenge killings. A copy of the Proclamation may be found on SSG’s website: www.syriansupportgroup.org.
Q.5. How will funds get to the FSA?
A – Funds will be sent into Syria in the same manner as general humanitarian relief is currently being provided. SSG cannot provide additional details out of concern for the safety of those involved. A portion of the funds will be used to cover the costs of communications, logistical or other services of direct benefit to the FSA.
Q.6. Can the FSA use the funds to purchase arms, ammunition and other military supplies?
A – Use of the funds that are distributed to the military councils of the FSA will be at their discretion. The FSA may and will likely utilize the funds to purchase much-needed arms, ammunition and other military supplies.
Q.7. Will the SSG tell the FSA how to use the funds or impose other conditions?
A – As a general matter, the SSG intends to support only those military councils that have adopted the FSA’s Proclamation of Principles and will not seek to impose any other conditions on the use of the funds.
Q.8. What percentage of the funds will be used to cover overhead?
A – The SSG will try to keep its overhead and administrative costs to a minimum (below 10%).
Q.9 How can we support the FSA?
A – You can support the FSA financially by making a contribution to the SSG. You can access the donation page by going to the organization’s website: www.syriansupportgroup.org. You may also send checks directly to the office:
Syrian Support Group
1000 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20036
Q.10. Can only individuals donate? What about corporations or other entities? Can non-U.S. citizens support the FSA through the SSG?
A – As a U.S. nonprofit organization, both U.S. and non-U.S. individuals and entities (whether corporations or other NGO’s) can make charitable contributions to the SSG in support of the FSA.
Q.11. Is the SSG a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization? Are contributions to the SSG tax-deductible?
A – The SSG has submitted the requisite forms for 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”). Donations to a nonprofit organization such as the SSG before it receives its determination letter from the IRS will be tax-deductible retroactively to the date of the organization’s incorporation. The SSG is confident that it will receive 501(c)(3) status and will be requesting that its application be expedited given the urgent circumstances.
Q.12. Will the SSG provide detailed reports to donors of how the funds were spent and to whom?
A – Such information will remain confidential – even from donors – in order to protect the safety of the individuals involved and not risk the possible disclosure of any information that may be used by the criminal Assad regime against the FSA or its supporters. However, the License does require that the SSG provide periodic reports to the State Department.
Q.13. Can a donor ask or condition their contribution so that it be spent on a certain brigade (kateebeh) or to a certain city or province?
A – As a general rule, the SSG cannot accept such conditions on donations. In addition to the administrative difficulty of handling such requests (we would anticipate a large number of donors making such requests), the SSG must retain discretion to send the funds in a strategic manner so as to best facilitate a conclusion to the violence and an end to the Assad regime.
The SSG is committed to supporting the revolution in a manner that maintains the territorial integrity of the Syrian nation and will not be biased towards any particular province, city, ethnicity or religious group.
For more information or to make a direct contribution, please visit our website at www.syriansupportgroup.org or contact us at email@example.com or (202) 787-1050.