How American Charities Fund Terrorism

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They need to recognize that money sent to terror groups for social services is fungible.

Natonal Review, by Sam Westrop, January 12, 2017:

As the president-elect has repeatedly made clear, his first full day in office will be a busy one. He has promised to effect a wide array of changes. But what about his second day? If he has some free time, we have some suggestions.

As the threat from international terror groups and homegrown radicalization increases, clamping down on domestic Islamist networks should be a priority. In particular: terror financing.

Under the Obama administration, the federal government appeared to ease up on prosecutions of American Islamist charities linked to terror. This was a marked change from the years after 9/11, when scores of charities were shut down after prosecutors found financial and logistical links to terrorist groups across the globe. This effort culminated in 2008, when the Holy Land Foundation was tried in court on charges of financing terrorism. Federal prosecutors listed a considerable number of prominent American Muslim organizations as “unindicted co-conspirators.”

Eight years of a more permissive attitude has afforded Islamist groups the chance for a resurgence. Islamist charities do not just provide a means to move money; they also offer legitimacy to American Islamist organizations struggling to free themselves from decades of allegations of extremism. Islamist charitable endeavors abroad serves to sanitize the Islamist agenda at home.

The most common terrorism link for American Islamist charities involves, unsurprisingly, the Palestinian territories. Where do charitable donations for the Palestinian territories end up? In the Gaza Strip, Hamas, which is designated a foreign terrorist organization, oversees every facet of society, especially the social services in which Western charities work. From the distribution of medicine to the running of schools, orphanages, and kids’ summer camps, Hamas rules the roost.

One example worth investigating is the Gaza-based Unlimited Friends Association for Social Development (UFA). At least eight prominent U.S. charities and, apparently, the taxpayer-funded United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are supporting this Palestinian group. A close examination of UFA shows that it is closely aligned with senior Hamas leaders, provides cash to the families of so-called martyrs in the Gaza strip, and promotes virulent anti-Semitic rhetoric.

UFA claims to “provide relief, emergency and developmental services to marginalized areas and people in need.” And it probably does. Its social-media pages show happy children playing in the sun, buildings constructed, and food packs distributed. But UFA operates with the political support of senior Hamas figures. And the support of Hamas means the support of a genocidal terror group that has pledged to eradicate Jews across the globe, that throws its political opponents off rooftops, oppresses women and homosexuals, fires rockets at Israeli schools and homes, and uses Palestinian children as human shields to advance its murderous cause.

UFA regularly collaborates with Hamas officials. In 2014, envisioning the “right of return” for Palestinians, it organized a ceremony at which the guest of honor was Mustafa Sawwaf, a prominent Hamas minister. Sawwaf had argued in the Hamas newspaper Al-Risala that “Israel’s disappearance is a necessity [according to] the Koran — that is a truth that we have learned and that we have been teaching since the first intifada, which was the Palestinian people’s first step toward ending the usurpation of Palestine by the Jewish gangs.”

In 2015, UFA hosted a public meeting with Mohamed Abu-Shkian, a senior Hamas official and the mayor of Nuseirat. They discussed “joint cooperation to implement projects that serve the various categories of the Palestinian community.” Abu-Shkian, whom Hamas media has nicknamed “Mohammed the Conqueror,” is a vocal supporter of the “mujahedeen” against Israel, has spoken at the graduation ceremony of a Hamas terror-training program, and has addressed crowds at a ceremony commemorating Hamas terrorists.

Not especially shy about its Hamas connections, UFA openly advertises projects funded by U.S. charities in prominent Hamas literature. And on its website, UFA boasts a certificate of support from Ummah University, an institution in Gaza directly controlled by Hamas’s interior ministry. UFA appears to be a cog in the Hamas martyrdom machine — the charity regularly hosts events financially benefiting “the families of martyrs and prisoners.”

Like Hamas, UFA is not shy about its hatred of Jews either. In a post published on one of the charity’s social-media pages, UFA officials wrote: “We ask God to drive away the anguish of the heroic prisoners in the Nazi Zionist jails and to free Al-Aqsa Al-Sharif [the Noble Al-Aqsa] from the filth of the most dirty Jews.”

UFA’s most important U.S. supporter is Baitulmaal, another charity. Saying they help Baitulmaal distribute cash to the “families of martyrs of the Palestinian people,” UFA officials have published photos to corroborate the claim.

These cash handouts are part of an “Orphan Sponsorship Program.” In videos published by the UFA, it defines orphans as those who have lost their fathers (not their mother), some of whom, it claims, were killed resisting “the ongoing slaughter against the Palestinian people.”

It would appear that American money is being given to the families of Hamas terrorists.

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UFA published these photos showing an official of U.S. charity Baitumaal handing out checks, at UFA’s offices, to “the families of martyrs of the Palestinian people.”

UFA and the U.S. charity Baitulmaal have such a close relationship that they even share the same staff. UFA officials Jomaa Khadoura and Amgad Mansor identify themselves as Baitulmaal employees. Mansor has promoted the views of Nabil Awadi, an Islamic cleric whom the Daily Mail has described as the “key financier” of the Islamic State.

Several other U.S. registered charities support UFA by funding UFA projects or hosting joint events. These include Islamic Relief USA, a branch of a charity established in Britain by Muslim Brotherhood operatives. Islamic Relief USA receives millions of dollars from Western governments, the European Union, and the United Nations. The U.S. government has given $370,000 to Islamic Relief Worldwide, the parent organization of its American affiliate. As with Baitulmaal, UFA and the Palestinian branch of Islamic Relief have shared the same employees.

UFA boasts of financial and logistical support from another six U.S. charities: Helping Hands for Relief and Development, Life for Relief and Development, the Zakat Foundation of America, Syria Relief & Development, United Muslims Relief, and American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA). These are just a few American charities at which a Trump administration should take a closer look.

On social media, UFA refers to American taxpayer funding. In 2013, it announced a project funded by the USAID and implemented by the U.S. charity Mercy Corps. Are taxpayer dollars funding a Gazan charity that works with Hamas, funds the families of “martyrs and prisoners,” and incites hatred against Jews? UFA, as with many Western-funded Palestinian groups, gets away with much of this perhaps because of the appearance of its work.

By providing social services, Islamist terror groups gain political and moral legitimacy among the people under their control as well as among their supporters abroad.

UFA appears to function as a “da’wah group that inherently benefits Hamas. Da’wah is a form of social outreach generally employed by terrorist organizations to reinforce their rule. By providing social services, Islamist terror groups gain political and moral legitimacy among the people under their control as well as among their supporters abroad. But da’wah is also “crucial to terrorist activity,” counterterrorism expert Matthew Levitt writes. “They provide cover for raising, laundering, and transferring funds, facilitate the group’s propaganda and recruitment efforts, provide employment to its operatives, and serve as a logistical support network for its terrorist operations.”

American taxpayer funding of UFA is not the first instance of its funding of the Hamas da’wah system. In 2007, ANERA (with which UFA jointly organizes projects) provided the Islamic University of Gaza with $140,000 of USAID money. The university was founded by the “spiritual leader” of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. In 2007, according to Palestinian media, 16 of the university’s lecturers and teachers were elected Hamas members of the Palestinian legislature. And in 2008, rockets and explosives fired by Hamas at Israeli civilians were reportedly produced at the university.

But da’wah efforts can be more basic. In areas targeted or controlled by terrorists, groups such as Hamas coordinate with charities to provide social services and welfare. Some counter-terrorism experts believe that this facilitates an influx of unchecked foreign funds, frees up money for violent operations, and whitewashes the work of terrorist organizations.

Aid money is fungible, as is already recognized under official understanding of material support for terrorism. In 2010, the solicitor general, Elena Kagan, now on the Supreme Court, explained that “Hezbollah builds bombs. Hezbollah also builds homes. . . . When you help Hezbollah build homes, you are also helping Hezbollah build bombs.”

Da’wah is not confined to the Palestinian territories; it also threatens American lives. Other terror groups have learned from the Hamas and Hezbollah. In 2012, the Times of London reported that al-Qaeda terrorists in Mali “have subsidized state utilities, capped food prices and made welfare payments to the needy.” And in 2014, I discovered that British “charity workers” were building schools in Syria that bore the Islamic State flag, all paid for through fundraising efforts in Britain.

Islamist charities linked to terrorism do provide charitable services, including welfare, children’s summer camps, and educational programs. This allows them to acquire Western funding without raising too much suspicion. But the da’wah system ensures that such charitable services serve to prop up Hamas’s grip over the Gaza strip.

The da’wah problem is not new, but it demands the attention of the new administration. Hundreds of charities operate in the Palestinian territories. Certainly some Palestinian charities do not host high-profile visits with senior Hamas leaders, financially reward the families of “martyrs and prisoners,” and incite hatred against Jews. The U.S. taxpayer and American charities should not be funding one that does.

— Sam Westrop is a writer for Islamist Watch. He is the research director at Americans for Peace and Tolerance and a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

Muslims Paying ZAKAT are Funding Terrorism

zakat2Understanding the Threat, by Jon Guandolo, Aug. 15, 2016:

Zakat is defined in Islamic Sacred Law (sharia) as “the name for a particular amount of property that must be payed to certain kinds of recipients under the conditions (specified in sharia).”

Zakat is also one of the five pillars of Islam.

According to Islamic sharia, “Zakat is obligatory for every free Muslim (male, female, adult, or child) who has possessed a zakat-payable amount for one lunar year.”

Sura (Chapter) 9 in the Koran is the “sura of the sword.”

Verse 9:60 states:  “Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect zakah and for bringing hearts together for Islam and for freeing captives or slaves and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the stranded traveler – an obligation imposed by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise.”

From this Koranic verse, sharia declares:  “It is obligatory to distribute one’s zakat among eight categories of recipients – meaning that zakat goes to none besides them, one-eighth of the zakat to each category.”

Sharia states the eight (8) categories are:  (1) the poor; (2) those short of money; (3) zakat workers; (4) those whose hearts are to be reconciled; (5) those purchasing their freedom; (6) those in debt; (7) those fighting for allah; (8) travellers needing money.

Specifically, category 7 is defined in sharia as:

Those Fighting for Allah.  The seventh category is those fighting for Allah, meaning people engaged in Islamic military operations for whom no salary has been allotted in the army roster, but who are volunteers for jihad without remuneration. They are given enough to suffice them for the operation, even if affluent; of weapons, mounts, clothing, and expenses for the duration of the journey, round trip, and the time they spend there, even if prolonged.” [Um dat al Salik, Book H Zakat, H8.17]

This means that all sharia compliant Islamic organizations in America which accept Zakat payments, must send 1/8 of all the money they collect to support jihad.

Paying zakat that supports jihad is a violation of U.S. law because it necessarily is “material support for terrorism.”

This is why some of the largest and most prominent Islamic charities have been identified by the U.S. government as funding “terrorism” (jihad).  It is a command from allah.

Every law enforcement agency in the United States has probable cause right now that all Islamic organizations in their jurisdiction which receive zakat payments are in violation of the law and are materially supporting terrorism.

As a matter of fact, CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) stated on it’s website it gives 100% of their zakat to category 7 (the “cause of allah” / “fisabilillah”) – jihad/”terrorism.”  Why wouldn’t they?  They are Hamas after all.

On another note, President Obama publicly stated “That’s why I am committed to working with American muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.”

Israel Approves $30 Million From Qatar To Hamas Employees In Gaza; Action Undercuts Years Of Work Against Global Muslim Brotherhood Charities

hamas2By on July 28, 2016

In a deal approved by Israel, Reuters has reported that Qatar will be providing $30 million to help pay the salaries of thousands of Hamas public servants in the Gaza Strip. According to the report:

Jul 23, 2016 –  DOHA — Qatar said on Thursday it would give $30 million to help pay the salaries of thousands of Gaza Strip public sector workers left without a full wage package since 2013.

The donation was welcomed by Hamas, the Islamist group that dominates the enclave who said it would help ease the wage shortages — that have tested already strained relations with the US-backed Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank.

There was no immediate comment from Palestinian Authority or Israel, who have long been suspicious of Qatar’s regular donations to Hamas and other Islamist groups across the region.

The emir of the wealthy Gulf state, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, said the payment of 113 million riyals was meant to ‘alleviate suffering and financial distress’, according to Qatar’s state news agency, QNA.

….

The Hamas-hired public servants have grown restive and in 2014 protested over their lack of payment which is partly due to a continued blockade imposed on Gaza by both Israel and Egypt.

‘The July payment will be made in full immediately once the Qatari financial fund is received,’ Youssef Al Kayyali,  Hamas’ deputy finance minister said.

Qatar, which hosts the largest US air base in the Middle East, has for years preserved influence with Islamist forces across the region it believes are the long-term future.

The breadth and resilience of Qatar’s links to Islamist groups including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has suffered a crackdown in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, fuels suspicions in other Gulf states.”

Israeli media has further reported that the Qatar/Hamas deal was approved by Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority. According to a Jerusalem Post report:

July 24, 2016 Qatar coordinated its decision to pay the July salaries of Hamas public sector employees with both the Palestinian Authority and Israel, according to a source speaking to the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Quds.

“The Qatari emir and foreign minister discussed this issue with President Mahmoud Abbas in their meeting in Doha during Ramadan and President Abbas did not express any opposition, especially since the transfer will take place in an official manner via the Palestinian Authority,” the source said.

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The source added that Doha coordinated the decision with the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai.

“Qatar informed Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordecai and after Israel studied the proposal, it offered its approval,” the source revealed.

As for how the transfer of funds will take place, the source said that a European party will assume responsibility for their delivery from Qatar to Gaza.

The Times of Israel adds that the Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, widely viewed as among the most “hawkish of Israeli politicians, personally “waved through” the Qatari cash infusion:

July 25, 2016…Haniyeh forgot to thank another important apparent benefactor: the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, which has reportedly waved through the Qatari cash infusion. Liberman, who once threatened to have Haniyeh assassinated within 48 hours of becoming defense minister, is understood to have agreed to the transfer of some 113 Saudi riyal ($31 million) to Hamas. Incongruous as it may seem, after less than two months in Tel Aviv’s Kirya military headquarters, Liberman appears to be a changed man, apparently tolerating an initiative that he opposed vehemently only a few years ago, during his stint as foreign minister.

Since at least 2003, criticism of groups that were funding Hamas, even if ostensibly for charitable purposes, was based on the notion of “fungibility”, that money received by Hamas for charitable purposes essentially freed up the same amount of money for terrorist purposes. As a former FBI analyst has written:

In 2003, then  Secretary of State E. Anthony Wayne told a congressional committee “if you are funding the organization [Hamas] even if there are many charitable activities going on, there is some fungibility between funds. You are strengthening the organization.” It is precisely this ease and readiness with which which Hamas transfers money from putatively charitable or political funds to military ones that belies any moral separation between the organizations various branches. Hamas’ ability to shift funds across its various ways is critical to its mission, because it facilitates the organization’s most effective means of raising funds for terrorist purposes; through humanitarian channels. The mixing of funds across different Hamas wings also shields the groups terrorist activities under a veil of political and humanitarian legitimacy

By allowing Qatar to transfer a large sum of money to Hamas, the Israel government has pulled the rug out from under those, including this publication, who for many years have criticized Global Muslim Brotherhood charities such as the Union of Good (UOG) and INTERPAL for their funding of Hamas. It is not clear to the GMBDW on what basis such entities or indeed even the Gaza flotilla movement can be now be criticized if they are essentially doing exactly what the Israel government has approved in the deal with Qatar.

The Qatari/Hamas deal comes on top of the “reconciliation” between Turkey and Israel in which Israel once again apologized for the deaths of passengers involved in a violent altercation with Israeli naval forces during the June 2010 Gaza Flotilla incident. Despite the substantial evidence of Turkish government involvement in the planning and preparation for the flotilla, no responsibility appears to have been accepted by Turkey. As we wrote in our post on the Israeli/Turkish agreement, this evidence is fully known by Dore Gold, essentially the Israel Foreign Minister, who headed the organization that commissioned the report on the subject:

As the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) at that time, Dr. Gold was responsible for the 2011 JCPA report authored by the GMBDW editor titled “Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla” which demonstrated that the Global Muslim Brotherhood, including at that time its Turkish components as well as the Turkish government and AKP ruling party, was deeply involved in the planning and preparation leading up to the first Gaza flotilla that was involved in the violent altercation with Israeli naval forces. (In 2011, JCPA also published an article on the role of the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in the unsuccessful second Gaza Flotilla.) Therefore Dr. Gold is aware not only of the Turkish government’s own culpability in the 2010 flotilla but also that since 2006, Turkey has become a new center not only for Hamas but also for the Global Muslim Brotherhood which is implacably opposed to the existence of the Jewish State. Furthermore, the JCPA report detailed Erdogan’s own ideological ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood network, ties which date back to Erdogan’s affiliation with WAMY in the 1970s making it unlikely that he will ever accept the existence of the Israeli state.

As we also wrote in that post:

The GMBDW fails to understand why the Israel government would choose at this time to bolster the Erdogan government as that very same government systematically continues to persecute and imprison more and more journalists and moves ever closer towards one-person rule. There have been suggestions that a potential natural gas pipeline through Turkey to Europe may be one of the motivations but that would simply would allow Turkey under Erdogan to hold Israel economic hostage whenever it chose, further compounding the strategic perils for Israel. Erdogan’s lifelong involvement with Hamas and the Global Muslim Brotherhood strongly suggest that any short-gains arising from a deal with Turkey are highly unlikely to endure and would only serve to bolster both Mr. Erdogan and Hamas. If Turkey under Erdogan  is willing to make a deal with Israel, it is a likely a sign of Turkish desperation and an opportunity to hasten Erdogan’s downfall instead of prolonging his rule.

Only two years ago it was being reported:

Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Egypt are angry with US Secretary of State John Kerry for pushing a cease-fire plan they believe was influenced by Turkey and Qatar. This reaction shows again Ankara and Doha’s unwelcome position in the region because of their unqualified support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The latest Qatari/Israel deal only adds adds to our confusion as it appears to further strengthen not only Hamas but the Hamas/Turkish/Qatari axis as well and therefore the entire Global Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey has already been involved in a recent aid shipment to Gaza  and the Qatari action only enhances the prestige of Qatar, deeply involved in the funding of Global Muslim Brotherhood projects around the world. Perhaps worst of all, and as already noted, the deal strikingly undercuts the efforts of many years to criticize and ultimately halt the flow of funds to Hamas, an effort largely involving the Global Muslim Brotherhood which aims at the destruction of the Israeli state as well as eventually the West itself. The apparent rationale for the Israeli action is the long argued position that engaging with groups such as Hamas is preferable to what are seen as the alternative, namely Al Qaeda and now ISIS despite that Hamas itself shares the same view that the West is the enemy of Islam and despite the political cooperation between Hamas leaders/supporters and designated terrorists, the subject of a forthcoming GMBDR report. In this sense, Israel joins the Obama Administration, the European Union, and a wide variety of other actors severely hampering the efforts to combat the Global Muslim Brotherhood. That Israel should join these ranks is perhaps the greatest surprise to the GMBDW since we started this publication.

Islamic American Relief Agency, Long Accused of Terror Finance, Pleads Guilty on Sanctions Violations

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The Muslim Brotherhood is all over this one.

CounterJihad, by Kyle Shideler, July 26, 2016:

On July 20, 2016, federal prosecutors successfully secured a guilty plea from the Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) organization known as the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA). The Missouri-based organization, also known as the Islamic African Relief Agency-USA, was an affiliate of a Sudan-based international relief organization of the same name.

The organization was raided in October of 2004 under suspicion of violating Iraq sanctions, money laundering and terrorism finance to Al Qaeda and Hamas.

The plea deal comes after the Department of Justice had already secured guilty pleas from IARA fundraiser Abdel Azim El-Siddig, Mubarak Hamed, Ahmed Mustafa, and former Republican Congressman Mark Siljander of Michigan.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department IARA had close ties to the Maktab Al-Khidamat (MK), also known as the Afghan Services Bureau, the precursor to Al Qaeda, co-founded by Osama Bin Laden and Muslim Brotherhood member and leading Jihadist thinker Abdullah Azzam.

IARA regional leader Mohammed Adam el-Sheikh is Imam of the Islamic Society of Baltimore, where President Obama delivered a major speech earlier this year. El-Sheikh was a co-founder of the Muslim American Society, described by U.S. federal prosecutors as the “overt arm” of the Muslim Brotherhood. El-Sheikh replaced Al Qaeda leader Anwar Awlaki at the Muslim Brotherhood led Dar al-Hijrah Mosque.

IARA was incorporated by Eric Vickers, executive director of the American Muslim Council, an organization founded by Al Qaeda financier and self-identified Muslim Brotherhood member Abdurrahman Alamoudi.

Among IARA’s earliest founders was Abdl Mouhaymen Al Sibai, whose name appears in the 1992 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood phone directory as Masul (leader) of the Michigan area.

Other IARA leaders included educational director Zayed Khaleel, a Missouri-based Palestinian American who served both as a Al Qaeda finance and Procurement specialist who supplied Osama Bin Laden with communications equipment, and as a webmaster for the terror organization Hamas. Khaleel worked closely with the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), the Muslim brotherhood organization focused on promoting Pro-Hamas propaganda. IAP played a key role in raising funds for the Holy Land Foundation(HLF), whose leaders were convicted of 108 terror related felonies. The Holy Land Foundation was also named explicitly in the recently release 28-page Congressional 9/11 report.

Included in the U.S. Government’s evidence exhibit list were references to other HLF linked organizations. Specifically, multiple fund transfers from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and its subsidiary the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) to the IARA. In the Holy Land Foundation trial a federal judge ruled that the U.S. government provided “ample evidence” to associated ISNA and NAIT with the terrorist group Hamas. Specifically named, is late ISNA leader Mahboob Khan, founder of the An-Noor Mosque in Santa Clara, California, which hosted Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri during a fundraising visit.

IARA had been one of 25 organizations investigated by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee regarding ties to terrorism funding, many of which would later be investigated, raided, and or designated for terrorism activities.

IARA had a history of being a respectable Islamic charity prior to the raid, even receiving millions from from USAID, before being debarred for suspected terror ties. In response to the crackdown IARA hired former Representative Mark Siljander to lobby to remove the group from terror-related lists. Siljander’s failure to register as a foreign agent, and lies to federal agents led to his inclusion in the terror finance case.

The guilty plea this week by the Islamic American Relief Agency is a reminder that the apparent respectability offered by government cooperation is often used as a shield for illicit activity. Yet organizations with suspected ties to Islamic terrorism continue to receive U.S. government funds.

Much like the recently released 28-page congressional report on the involvement of Saudi Arabia in 9/11, the IARA conviction is also a reminder of the days after 9/11 when the U.S. government was engaged in a serious counterterrorism struggle targeting not just individual terrorists, but the larger supporting networks.

This was done despite that these networks revealed links to foreign government officials and powerful Middle East banking or financial interests and despite that proper investigation required the surveillance of Islamist mosques and nonprofit organizations.

Unfortunately this model of U.S. counterterrorism has been widely abandoned in favor of a “countering violent extremism” model that promotes a “whack-a-mole” strategy by assuming, absent evidence, that terrorists are unconnected to a wider network. As a result, since President Obama took office in 2009, the U.S. government has not designated a single Islamic charity for terror ties.

The IARA conviction thus serves as a kind of time capsule for early, and successful counterterrorism efforts, but one which is unlikely to be repeated unless dramatic changes are made to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement efforts.

Obama Admin Awards $270K to Controversial Islamic Charity

Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a rally / AP

Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a rally / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, @Kredo0, April 20 2016:

The Obama administration has awarded $270,000 to an Islamic charity that has been outlawed by some governments for its support of the terror group Hamas and other jihadist organizations, according to grant documents.

The Department of Health and Human Services has provided a $270,000 grant to Islamic Relief Worldwide, a charity that has repeatedly been linked to terrorism financing and support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, according to recent grant information.

The grant was awarded as part of a larger project to provide health services in Nairobi, Kenya, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the grant.

Some terrorism experts have expressed concern that the administration is providing funds to Islamic Relief given its past ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, ties that have led some governments to outlaw the charity.

The United Arab Emirates and Israel both banned the charity in 2014 after investigations revealed that Islamic Relief had ties to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other entities engaged in terror financing, according to reports.

An investigation by the Israeli government led to accusations that the charity was providing material support to Hamas and its operatives.

The charity “provides support and assistance to Hamas’s infrastructure,” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs determined in 2006. “The IRW’s activities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip are carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives.”

The charity further “appears to be a hub for donations from charities accused of links to al Qaeda and other terror groups,” according to an investigation conducted by the Gatestone Institute.

The charity’s “accounts show that it has partnered with a number of organizations linked to terrorism and that some of charity’s trustees are personally affiliated with extreme Islamist groups that have connections to terror,” according to the investigation, authored by terrorism analyst Samuel Westrop.

An audit of the organization’s accounts showed that it had donated thousands of dollars to a charity established by a terrorist affiliated with al Qaeda, according to Westrop.

Israeli authorities arrested the charity’s Gaza coordinator, Ayaz Ali, in 2006 due to his alleged work on Hamas’s behalf.

“Incriminating files were found on Ali’s computer, including documents that attested to the organization’s ties with illegal Hamas funds abroad (in the UK and in Saudi Arabia) and in Nablus,” Israel’s foreign affairs ministry said at the time. “Also found were photographs of swastikas superimposed on IDF symbols, of senior Nazi German officials, of Osama Bin Laden, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as well as many photographs of Hamas military activities.”

The charity attempted to mend its image in 2014 by performing an internal audit. However, experts criticized the effort as unreliable.

“The information provided by [Islamic Relief] on its internal investigation is insufficient to assess the veracity of its claims,” the watchdog organization NGO Monitor wrote in a 2015 analysis. “NGO Monitor recommends that a fully independent, transparent, and comprehensive audit of IRW’s international activities and funding mechanisms be undertaken immediately.”

Patrick Poole, a reporter and counter-terrorism analyst for Unconstrained Analytics, noted that USAID, a taxpayer funded organization, also has donated funds to Islamic Relief.

“Time and again we see federal agencies and departments using taxpayer money to support the enemies of the United States and our allies,” Poole said. “USAID is a persistent culprit in this regard. In 2005 it took an act of Congress, led by the late Rep. Tom Lantos [D., Calif.], to stop USAID from funding Hamas institutions in Gaza. Now we see them doing the same thing, but only using a middleman.”

The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to a request for comment on the grant.

Obama White House Turns To Islamists Who Demonize Terror Investigations

by John Rossomando
IPT News
December 28, 2015

Jihadist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris have Americans on edge. Yet part of the Obama White House’s response to the attacks has been to invite Islamist groups that routinely demonize the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies to the White House to discuss a religious discrimination. “If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away,” President Obama said in his speech following the San Bernardino attack.

But partnering with such organizations sends the wrong message to the American people, said Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AFID).

“I think it says a lot when the president uses those organizations that have an ACLU-type mentality. They should have a seat at the table. That’s fine,” Jasser said.  “But not to include groups, which have completely different focuses about counter-radicalization, counter-Islamism creates this monolithic megaphone for demonization of our government and demonization of America that ends up radicalizing our community.”

A White House spokesperson acknowledged to the Investigative Project on Terrorism that the Dec. 14 meeting on countering anti-Muslim animus included Hassan Shibly, executive director of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Florida chapter. The same forum – attended by Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes – also included Farhana Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates; Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab-American Institute (AAI); Mohamed Magid, imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS); and Hoda Hawa, director of policy and advocacy with the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) among others.

The White House guests, or the organizations they represent, have long histories of criticizing counter-terror investigations. CAIR leads the pack. Its Philadelphia chapter is advertising a workshop, “The FBI and Entrapment in the Muslim Community,” which features a spider with an FBI badge on its back, spinning a web of entrapment around an image of a mosque. The workshop “provides the tools needed to prevent entrapment of community members to become terrorists in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Since 9/11, CAIR has repeatedly taken the side of defendants accused of financing or plotting attacks, calling their prosecutions a “witch hunt” against the Muslim community.  For example, CAIR denounced the prosecution of Sami Al-Arian, who turned out to be the secretary of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s governing board, as “politically motivated” and a result of the “Israelization of American policy and procedures.”

A year ago, CAIR similarly protested the incarceration of Aafia Siddiqui, aka “Lady Al Qaeda” – convicted in 2010 of trying to kill two FBI agents. The protest came after the Islamic State (ISIS) offered to spare the lives of executed American photojournalist James Foley and aid worker Kayla Mueller in exchange for Siddiqui’s release.

CAIR also denounced the December 2001 shutdown of the Holy Land Foundation for Hamas support, saying, “…there has been a shift from a war on terrorism to an attack on Islam.”

Demonizing law enforcement and spreading “the idea that America and Western societies [are] anti-Muslim – the whole Islamophobia mantra is part of the early steps of radicalization so that Muslims get separated out of society,” Jasser said. “These groups certainly aren’t on the violent end of the Islamist continuum, but if there’s a conveyer belt that goes towards radicalization then it certainly starts with this siege and separatist mentality.”

CAIR has used such inflammatory imagery and rhetoric for years, with its San Francisco chapter removing a poster urging Muslims to “Build a Wall of Resistance – Don’t Talk to the FBI” in 2011 after the IPT reported on it.

Later that year, a CAIR-New York official told a Muslim audience that FBI agents would break the law to force them to talk. That includes threats and “blackmail, seriously blackmail; that’s illegal,” Lamis Deek told the audience. “But they’ll do it.”

Jasser blames CAIR and others which spread similar rhetoric for the increased fear of Islam and Muslims in America since 9/11 because they refuse to discuss Islamic extremism and the role Muslims have in fixing the problem.

1324“This creates a climate where people don’t trust us to be part of the solution,” Jasser said. “People say that if you aren’t part of the solution then you are part of the problem, which creates more fear and distrust.”

Neither Jasser nor the AIFD, which advocates for “liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state,” were invited to the White House meeting. Also shut out were Jasser’s colleagues in the new Muslim Reform Movement, whose members “reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam” and stand “for secular governance, democracy and liberty. Every individual has the right to publicly express criticism of Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights.”

The White House did not reply to a request for comment about Jasser’s characterization of these groups; however, it previously said it engaged CAIR because of “their work on civil rights issues” despite the group’s Hamas ties.

Former FBI Associate Deputy Director Buck Revell also finds the White House’s choice of Muslim groups troubling.

“It’s a very confusing time and circumstance when you have the White House dealing with people who have fronted for the Muslim Brotherhood and are the spokespeople for Hamas in the United States and you bring them in for a conference at the White House and say they are supposed to speak for the Muslim community in America,” Revell said. “It’s unhelpful to have the White House essentially fronting for groups that want to make it harder to reach the jihadists in our society and in effect flush them out.”

Khera’s group Muslim Advocates has a pending lawsuit against the New York Police Department regarding its surveillance of mosques and other Islamic institutions using undercover police officers and informants.

“One of our key priorities at Muslim Advocates is ending racial and religious profiling by law enforcement,” Khera says in a YouTube video supporting the suit. “We’ve done work to combat profiling by the FBI, by Customs and Border Protection and now more recently we’ve had concerns about the way the New York Police Department – the nation’s largest police department – has been conducting itself.”

Like CAIR, Khera has called the FBI’s sting operations and informants against potential jihadists “entrapment operations” that rope in individuals who might otherwise never engage in terrorist activity.

CAIR’s Shibly also used the entrapment narrative in a June 2014 blog post in which he argued that the “FBI entrapment program targeting the Muslim community” was an example of tyranny. Many other CAIR representatives, such as Michigan director Dawud Walid, previously alleged the FBI has “recruited more so-called extremist Muslims than al-Qaida themselves.”

AAI stops short of embracing the entrapment narrative but labels surveillance programs by the NYPD and other government agencies “unconstitutional, ineffective, and counterproductive.” New York’s Mayor Bill De Blasio disbanded the NYPD unit responsible for infiltrating the city’s mosques and Muslim gathering places looking for potential terrorists in April 2014 under pressure from Muslim groups.

Another group, the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), which counts Magid as a member, published an article in 2008 written by Hatem al-Haj, a member of its fatwa committee, giving religious justification for not cooperating with authorities. Al-Haj wrote it was “impermissible” for Muslims to work with the FBI because of the “harm they inflict on Muslims.”

However, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), which formerly accused the FBI of entrapment, conceded in 2013 that informants can be useful detecting terror cells and keeping them off balance.

“To be fair, informants at times can be effective in counterterrorism investigations even against cellular structures. Because terrorist groups are concerned about their operational security, fear of informants can create and increase tensions within a terrorist cell. As a result, it may generate enough paranoia that a cell may abandon a planned operation,” MPAC said in its 2013 report “Building Bridges to Strengthen America.”

Looking for jihadis before they strike is a bit like looking for a “needle in a haystack,” so sting operations are useful in finding them before it’s too late, according to Revell.  He says such operations can be useful in preventing the next San Bernardino.

“If you don’t find them when they are talking jihad and you have to wait until they take an action then it’s too late to be able to prevent casualties and ensure that the public is safe,” Revell said. “There certainly is knowledge among those looking to do any type of jihadi activity that there is a force out there that is countering them and that they need to try to cover their activities to the greatest extent possible.”

In the past year, the Islamic State (ISIS) has published at least two documents instructing its jihadis how to evade being lured into stings by the FBI or other law-enforcement agencies.  The ISIS manual “Safety and Security guidelines of the Lone Wolf Mujahideen” devotes a chapter to evading FBI stings by testing the weapons they receive prior to using them in an attack.

Khera’s organization stood front and center in 2011 when Muslim groups called on the Obama administration to purge FBI training materials that they deemed offensive.  Shecomplained in a Sept. 15, 2011 letter that counterterrorism materials then being used to train FBI agents about Islam used “woefully misinformed statements about Islam and bigoted stereotypes about Muslims.” Such allegedly misinformed statements included characterizing zakat – the almsgiving tax mandate on all Muslims – as a “funding mechanism for combat” and that “Accommodation and compromise between [Islam and the West] are impermissible and fighting [for Muslims] is obligatory.”

Yet numerous Muslim commentators, including from the Herndon, Va.-based International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), describe zakat as a funding mechanism for jihad. A footnote for Surah 9:60 found in “The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an” published with editorial assistance from IIIT, says that zakat can be used among other things to help “(4) those who are struggling and striving in Allah’s Cause by teaching or fighting or in duties assigned to them by the righteous Imam, who are thus unable to earn their ordinary living.”

The AMJA issued a fatwa in August 2011 stating that zakat could be used to “support legitimate Jihad activities.”

Top Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi similarly states in his book, Fiqh of Jihad, that zakat may be spent to finance “the liberation of Muslim land from the domination of the unbelievers,” particularly against Israel and India in Kashmir.

Numerous Islamic charities have been cited or closed down in connection with terrorist financing since the September 11 attacks. Qaradawi’s actions back up his words. In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the Union of Good, a network of charities headed by Qaradawi, for Hamas fundraising. That same year a federal court jury convicted the founders of the Richardson, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation (HLF) for illegally financing Hamas.

“The government’s policy has inflicted considerable harm,” MPAC’s Salam al-Marayatiwrote in 2001 after federal authorities closed the Benevolence International Fund (BIF). “By effectively shutting down these charities, it has given Americans the false impression that American Muslims are supporting terrorists. It has also given the Muslim world a similarly false impression that America is intolerant of a religious minority.”

Representatives of MPAC, CAIR and Muslim Advocates each condemned the HLF prosecution or its subsequent verdict.

In the end, the White House’s decision to empower these groups sends a mixed message to the American people that it isn’t fully interested in rooting out the causes of jihadist terror and preventing future attacks.

Funding terrorists

U.S. Donation to Terror Group Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

U.S. Donation to Terror Group Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Giving money to groups tied to terror finance must end

Washington Times, by Kyle Shideler, Nov. 29, 2015:

The United States, in the form of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing $100,000 to an organization directly linked to financing terrorism.

According to USAspending.gov, a government website which tracks grant allocations, USAID provided the funds to the Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), for Fiscal Year 2016.

Islamic Relief Worldwide is a United Kingdom-based organization co-founded by known Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam El-Haddad, currently jailed in Egypt. El-Haddad is also a former Clinton Foundation employee.

Islamic Relief Worldwide is a designated terrorist entity in both Israel and the United Arab Emirates since 2014, due to its ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood network that provides material support to Hamas. In 2006, the Israel security forces arrested IRW’s Gaza project coordinator for links to the terror group.

Following their 2014 designation by Israel, Islamic Relief Worldwide carried out an “independent investigation” and declared that it was not in violation. The independent watchdog group NGO Monitor has contested the quality and independence of that investigation.

Islamic Relief Worldwide has also been implicated in financial ties with al Qaeda-linked organizations as well, particularly in Yemen. Terrorism researcher Samuel Westrop writes, “In 2004, 2007 and 2009, IRW accounts revealed donations of tens of thousands of pounds from the Charitable Society for Social Welfare [CSSW], a charity founded by al Qaeda terrorist and ‘Bin Laden loyalist’ Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani. In 1998, the al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, eventually killed by a U.S. drone strike, served as vice-president of CSSW’s San Diego branch.”

Al-Zindani is the leading member of the Hamas financing network known as the Union of the Good, which has been designated by the U.S. Treasury Department. Islamic Relief Worldwide is one of the founding organizations for the Union.

American law enforcement officers have also reported that the group is known to play a role in financing Hamas, taking the place of the convicted Holy Land Foundation. In 2011, a Department of Justice source told investigative reporter Patrick Poole, “We know that these Muslim leaders and groups are continuing to raise money for Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Ten years ago we shut down the Holy Land Foundation. It was the right thing to do. Then the money started going to KindHearts. We shut them down too. Now the money is going through groups like Islamic Relief and Viva Palestina. Until we act decisively to cut off the financial pipeline to these terrorist groups by putting more of these people in prison, they are going to continue to raise money that will go into the hands of killers.”

Islamic Relief Worldwide is technically legally distinct from, although closely linked to their U.S.-based affiliate, Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA). The two groups share overlapping leadership. IRUSA has provided tens of millions of dollars for its parent organization to distribute.

Islamic Relief USA recently fundraised in response to a devastating October earthquake in Pakistan where according to Reuters jihadist-linked linked charities played a leading role in the response. According to the Pakistan Tribune, Islamic Relief worked side by side with Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, a charity foundation tied to Laskar-e-taiba, the group responsible for the Mumbai massacre. Also operating with Islamic Relief in the Earthquake response was the Alkhidmat Foundation, a charitable organization of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Jamaat-e-Islami organization, known to have financed Hamas.

Despite that Islamic Relief is well known by U.S. law enforcement, the group has continued to share a close relationship with the State Department and USAID under the Obama Administration, including hosting shared annual “Iftar Dinners”. IRUSA’s CEO, who is also a leading Islamic Relief Worldwide board member, has served on USAID’s advisory committee beginning in 2010, according to Clarion Project’s Ryan Mauro. Islamic Relief USA described itself as a 2011 “partner” with USAID for operations in the Horn of Africa.

In addition to partnering with both the U.S. government and Terror-linked charities, one of Islamic Relief’s major projects involves support for Syrian refugees, including advocating for bringing Syrian refugees to “rich countries,” including presumably the United States.

Despite these long-running associations with Islamic Relief USA, the fund allocation directly to Islamic Relief Worldwide raises new questions. And while the U.S. government has previously been identified funding U.S. Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations like the North American Islamic Trust, which once shared a bank account with the Holy Land Foundation, the allocation of funds directly to an entity that two U.S. allies consider a terrorist group may be a new low.

The revelations that the U.S. government is giving money to Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups that are closely tied to terrorism finance should raise serious oversight questions for the U.S. Congress, particularly as the last omnibus appropriations bill for the Obama administration’s second term is currently under discussion.

Kyle Shideler is director of the Threat Information Office at the Center for Security Policy.