International Freedom Foundation

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The International Freedom Foundation (IFF) described itself in 1992 as "...a non-profit, educational foundation which works to expand free markets and individual rights throughout the world. IFF is headquartered in Washington D.C., and has offices in London, Hamburg, Brussels, Rome and Johannesburg."[1]

Born out of a meeting of right-wing insurgents

The IFF was founded in 1985 by Jack Abramoff, who was also for some time the chairman. According to a 1995 expose in the UK Observer newspaper, the organization

"...grew out of a meeting in 1985 at Jamba, the headquarters of Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, attended by a who's who of the extreme Right: members of the Oliver North group, Laotian guerrillas, Nicaraguan Contras, Afghan mujahideen and South African security police."[2]

The official title of the summit was the Democratic International.[3]

A front for South African military intelligence

In 1995 the South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission revealed that the apartheid regime helped launch the IFF, paying it until 1992 $1.5 million a year.[4]

One year later it was over:

"All the US participants involved with the IFF, including Abramoff, deny any knowledge that South African intelligence had funded any of IFF's operations. The IFF disbanded in 1993 when South African president de Klerk pulled the funding for most of the government's clandestine operations."[5]

According to the Observer report,

"...the International Freedom Foundation was, in fact, a South African military intelligence front, created in the dying years of apartheid to win friends and influence people internationally, and to campaign against the African National Congress. In Washington it passed on information to a British-based company, Long Reach, also a military intelligence front, whose job was to gather data on the ANC for the apartheid government."[2]

IFF was amongst the first members of 'Town Hall', which in 1995 became ''.


  • Russel Crystal, Executive Director, IFF (SA), on telephone (011) 399-2621 (1992) [1]
  • Duncan Sellars, International Chairman, IFF (USA), on telephone (091) (202)546-5788. (1992) [1]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 International Freedom Foundation, "International Freedom Foundation (IFF) Appoints Independent Commission of Inquiry To Investigate ANC detention Centres", Media Release, July 14, 1992.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Phillip Van Niekerk, "How Apartheid conned the West", The Observer, July 16, 1995, Sunday. Available via Lexis-Nexis.
  3. Mark Hemingway, "My Dinner with Jack: The Jamboree in Jamba, the making of 'Red Scorpion,' and other tales of the Abramoff era.", The Weekly Standard, April 3, 2006.
  4. Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps, Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power", Newsday, July 16, 1995.
  5. Stephen Pizzo, "Part III: DeLay's Godfather", AlterNet,, May 14, 2002.