An interesting report from Pravda, of all places, concerning Microsoft caught our eye today. The newspaper, which was the U.S.S.R.’s flagship state-owned propaganda newspaper back in the day, reported today that Microsoft donated money to a charity that the FBI has since linked to al-Qaeda. From Pravda’s English edition (including the poor translation):
Corporation Microsoft and its president Bill Gates are still haunted with troubles. This time the troubles don’t concern accusations of monopolization of the operating systems market. As it turned out, the corporation sponsored bin Laden.
Microsoft is not the only company blamed for financing terrorists, even popular PC producer Compaq sponsored terrorists as well. It is clear that both companies didn’t even suspect that money transferred to the charitable organization Benevolence International Foundation is spent on training of al-Qaeda terrorists. The companies transferred not very large sums of money, Microsoft’s transfer made up 20 thousand dollars. But as is known, many hands make light work.
Activity of the charitable foundation was organized on a wide scale. It’s enough to say that when activity of the foundation and its chairman Arnaout was investigated by the FBI, it turned out that within the four first months of 2002 Benevolence International Foundation transferred 685 thousand dollars to bank accounts in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Latvia and Russia allegedly for support of Chechen refugees. But in fact the money was sent to terrorists.
Though Pravda means “Truth” in Russian, we did contact Microsoft to find out if this particular story was true. A Microsoft spokesperson told The Mac Observer (TMO) that Microsoft had indeed donated to Benevolence International Foundation as part of an employee matching program. That program matches employee donations to what the spokesperson said is a “broad range of organizations” designated as 501c3 non-profit organizations in amounts up to US$12,000.
From a prepared statement given to TMO:
Microsoft matches employee contributions up to US$12,000 — allowing employees to contribute those funds to non-profits organizations of their choice as long as those organizations are legitimate 501c3 organizations.
Upon learning of the organization’s suspicious activity in December 2001, Microsoft immediately suspended all donations to this organization.
This time, at least, Pravda had the truth of it, if not the full truth. There is more in the full article from Pravda on the overall investigation into Benevolence International Foundation.