Last week, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced an amendment to the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act blocking any U.S. funding to Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). Between 2015 and 2016, IRW received $370,000 in federal funding.
DeSantis explained to the Free Beacon that:
U.S. tax dollars cannot go to groups involved in funding terrorism. Any group tied to Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood should be ineligible for funding. It is a slap in the face of the American taxpayer to allow such groups to receive federal funding.
Founded in 1984, IRW is headquartered in the UK but operates as a franchiser of sixteen charity affiliates comprising the largest Islamic charity in the West with revenues in the hundreds of millions. Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), reputed to be one of the largest affiliate funders of IRW, is also inter-connected to IRW through leadership. For example, IRUSA’s former CEO, Abed Ayoub also served on the governance committee of the IRW.
Between 2012 and 2016, Memphis Imam Yasir Qadhi has been helping IRUSA raise money speaking at a dozen fundraising events. More recently, he undertook an eight-date tour in the UK to raise money for the parent organization IRW. Britain’s Charity Commission which regulates non-profits, questioned IRW’s decision to feature Qadhi, described by The Times as “a hardline Muslim preacher” who “has been recorded apparently telling students that killing homosexuals and stoning adulterers was part of their religion.”
(FYI, in 2010, Vanderbilt Muslim chaplain Awad Binhazim told students that Islamic law mandates capital punishment for homosexuality and that “as a Muslim he does not have a choice of whether to accept or reject what Islam teaches.”)
DeSantis, has good reason to be concerned. IRW was banned in Israel after a government report determined that the charity provided material support to “HAMAS’ infrastructure.” HAMAS is a U.S. designated terrorist organization. Gatestone Institute documented IRW’s receipt of funds from charities alleged to have ties to al Qaeda and allied terrorist groups. Gatestone also detailed connections between IRW’s leadership, the global Muslim Brotherhood, and other terror groups that have been designated by the U.S. and European governments.
In 2012, Swiss bank UBS closed IRW’s accounts and four years later, HSBC severed its ties to IRW out of concern that funds raised and transferred by IRW were helping to fund terrorism. In 2014, IRW was banned from operating in Israel while the United Arab Emirates blacklisted IRW, the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR also based on ties to terrorism.
Islamist groups including CAIR and IRW affiliate IRUSA launched a campaign opposing DeSantis’ measure which he withdrew on Thursday.
CAIR is a named unindicted co-conspirator in the largest U.S. terrorism financing prosecution related to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development which was the largest Islamic charity in the U.S. until five of its officers were sent to prison for funneling $12 million to HAMAS. CAIR’s efforts to have its unindicted co-conspirator status removed in federal court only served to reaffirm that the evidence in court supported CAIR’s ties to HAMAS:
[t]he Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF [Holy Land Foundation], the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas
IRUSA was embraced by the Obama administration, partnering on relief efforts. In 2010, the CEO of IRUSA was officially advising the US Agency for International Development (USAID), one of the federal agencies passing money to IRUSA.
In 2013, the Clarion Project alleged that at least four IRUSA officials had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood; then president and board chairman Mohamed Amr Attawia is listed in a 1991 phone directory of Muslim Brotherhood leaders that was introduced into evidence during the Holy Land Foundation prosecution. He remains a director of IRUSA. Others in IRUSA’s leadership have ties to Egypt and overthrown President Mohamed Morsi who was elected to bring the Muslim Brotherhood into power.
More recently, it has been exposed that IRUSA’s current chairman Khaled Lamada, reputed to be an open supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, has also posted “alarmingly anti-Jewish posts” on Facebook:
He has re-published text praising the ‘jihad” of the “Mujahidin of Egypt’ for ‘causing the Jews many defeats,’ as well as claims that praise Hamas for inflicting a ‘huge defeat’ against the ‘Zionist entity.’ In addition, Lamada has circulated videos that claim the current leader of Egypt, President Sisi, is secretly Jewish, and that he opposes the Muslim Brotherhood on the orders of the Jews. Lamada simply comments ‘I hope that this is not true.’
The IRUSA has a long history of assisting resettled refugees and in 2014, began pushing “rich countries” to resettle more Syrian refugees. Memphis Imam Yasir Qadhi advocates for increased refugee resettlement to the U.S. More recently, he joined the executive director of CAIR and radical Islamist Linda Sarsour to oppose the Supreme Court’s early decision upholding part of President Trump’s Executive Order on the travel ban.