Posts Tagged ‘charity’

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Islamic charity official becomes president of ISNA

December 16, 2014

The country’s largest Muslim group has selected a senior Islamic charity official as its new president. Azhar Azeez was elected as the president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in August, a Muslim civic group which was an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful trial against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) for financing Hamas.

Azeez is also the “director of fund development” for Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA), the largest Muslim charity in America, and also oversees IR-USA’s regional offices based in Buena Park, California (Los Angeles area); Santa Clara, California (San Jose area); Palos Hills, Illinois (Chicago area); Totowa, New Jersey (Paterson area); Plano, Texas (Dallas area); and Temple Terrace, Florida (Tampa area). Azeez previously served as the president of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) chapter in Dallas. CAIR was also an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF case. In his role at IR-USA, Azeez would probably have had authority over grants issued to other domestic organizations, including $118,000 that IR-USA earmarked for terror-affiliated groups in 2013.

The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch notes that CAIR is also part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that several of Azeez’s professional associates are connected to the Dallas Central Mosque where two of the five convicted HLF leaders were active.

Azeez’s election to such a high-profile position is somewhat surprising given the steady decline in IR-USA’s credibility and reputation over the last several years. IR-USA’s budget tumbled after the charity was revealed to have falsely inflated the value of its drug stockpiles, which represented a significant share of their total assets. IR-USA’s international affiliate—Islamic Relief Worldwide—has been banned by Israel and designated as a terrorist entity by the United Arab Emirates within the past several months. IR-USA’s president was quietly let go in late 2013.

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10 tips for businesses to avoid financing terror

November 24, 2014

If you run or work for a medium or small business that can’t afford to have an entire compliance department, or even a compliance officer, here are a few tips that will help your business reduce its risk of inadvertently funding a terrorist organization, running afoul of federal authorities, or both:

  1. Conduct due diligence before taking on new accounts, and do not rely exclusively on Internet searches for due diligence.
  2. For international accounts it is doubly important to carry out thorough due diligence (including overseas business partners, banks, security providers, and charities) before signing agreements with them. You will probably have to contract out for investigation services, but it’s worth the expense.
  3. If your business promotes or authorizes employee payroll deductions to make charitable contributions, review the list of participating charities. Do not offer payroll deductions for donations to charities suspected of financing terrorism or charities known to have worked with designated terrorists. This would include Islamic Relief USA and the Zakat Foundation (see here and here).
  4. If your business requires or offers diversity or equal opportunity training, do not make payments to any organization or person to conduct the training who has been implicated in terrorist financing schemes such as members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations or the Islamic Society of North America, both of which were unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas-financing case.
  5. Think twice before offering sharia-compliant investment accounts to employees or allowing a conventional retirement brokers to offer sharia funds to your employees. These financial products are less transparent with respect to fund management by sharia advisory boards whose members often share close ties with the international Muslim Brotherhood and are not subject to disclosure requirements on where they channel their profits.
  6. Do not buy corporate fruit baskets or other gift baskets from Edible Arrangements. Their CEO operates a foundation out of his office at Edible Arrangements allegedly linked to Pakistani front charities that fund Islamist militants.
  7. Do not have business lunches, meetings, or conferences catered by halal food providers such as IFANCA and Crescent Foods, which have been endorsed by or have catered events for entities that are suspected to have financed terrorism.
  8. If you are asked by an importer whether your business can ship to or “enter an Arab Port?” do not answer the question. That is code language used to ascertain your business’s willingness to participate in the Arab League’s boycott against Israel. Answering the question helps those who oppose the existence of Israel and will lead to fines by the U.S. Office of Antiboycott Compliance.
  9. Don’t let your data or your employees be held for ransom. Ask your IT department or technology provider about their security protocols against ransomware. Make adequate plans to protect your employees from abduction during overseas travel. Paying ransoms will serve to enrich criminal or terrorist groups which will be costlier and less secure for your industry in the long run.
  10. Bookmark and read blogs such as Money Jihad, Kenneth Rijock’s Financial Crime Blog, and Shariah Finance Watch for the latest threat trends in terror finance risk management. These websites are free unlike some of the other specialized news sites which are informative but fee-based.
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5-year anniversary of Money Jihad

October 12, 2014

Five years ago today, the first post of this blog was published.

Since then, Money Jihad has blown the lid off connections among Islamic charities including the Zakat Foundation and Muslim Hands, the close financial relationship between Islamic Relief USA and Islamic Relief Worldwide in Britain, and partnerships between Islamic Relief and the Turkish front charity IHH.

Money Jihad has also documented the relationships between sharia banks and terrorist financing—relationships which were previously only discernible through scattered evidence and rumors.

On top of that, this blog has exposed information that was known in Somalia and Bangladesh about terrorist financing in those countries that had never been reported before to Western readers. On several occasions, this blog has helped give voice to dissidents and expatriates from those and other nations who have shared their knowledge about financial mischief in their home countries with Money Jihad to reach a wider audience.

None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for some wonderful people and organizations. Special thanks to Shariah Finance Watch and Creeping Sharia blogs for putting Money Jihad on the map in the first place. Individual thanks go to the vice president at the Center for Security Policy Christopher Holton, human rights activist Puneet Madaan, and American Center for Democracy fellow Ilan Weinglass who have each done a great deal to expand the reach of this blog.

Without additional support and engagement by 1389 Blog, The Counter Jihad Report, EuropeNews, BlazingCatFur, and other counter-jihad blogs—all wonderful blogs in their own right—in addition to news sites Free Republic, American Thinker, FrontPage Mag, The Washington Free Beacon, The Washington Post, and International Business Times, this blog would never have reached the level of influence or readership that it currently enjoys.

Then there’s the vibrant community of readers, sources, jokers and curmudgeons on Twitter! This whole endeavor would be much quieter and boring without them. A special thanks goes out to all-star Twitter users Rushette, El Grillo, MeanKitteh, Sal, Michael, Jackie, Zac, Jack, and FRamabama for all the support and the wealth of information and insights they provide.

Twitter also allows Money Jihad to mutually follow and connect with noted leaders of the counter-jihad movement including author Tarek Fatah, Act for America organizer Brigitte Gabriel, former Navy officer Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, author Diana West, author Dr. Mark Walia, Gatestone Institute president Nina Rosenwald and terror analysts Patrick Poole and Ryan Mauro. TV stars Roseanne Barr and David Boreanaz have helped too (seriously); and prominent financial crimes experts including anti-money laundering reporter Colby Adams; finance and security analyst Tom Keatinge; anti-money laundering attorney Christine Duhaime; Wall Street Journal risk & compliance reporter Rachel Louise Ensign; terrorism and terror finance expert J.C. Brisard; author Jeffery Robinson; fellow financial crime bloggers Helen Gorman and Eric “Mr. Watchlist” Sohn; and a host of certified public accounts, trade and sanctions lawyers, certified fraud examiners, and certified anti-money laundering specialists.

Thanks also to Rachel Ehrenfeld, Robert Spencer, and Kenneth Rijock. The insights and expertise in their writings have helped shape the perspective of this blog.

Now, friends and readers, it’s time for a two-week break. Hasta luego!

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Islamic charity pleads guilty to tax fraud

August 17, 2014

Al Haramain, a Saudi-based international charity which once maintained its U.S. branch in Oregon, has pleaded guilty to tax fraud 14 years after filing a false return designed to conceal a $150,000 check issued to Chechen jihadists.

The Associated Press reported on July 29:

…On Tuesday, the charity pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Eugene to one count of filing a false tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. The group was placed on probation for three years, and it agreed during that time not to resume operating as a tax-exempt charity in the U.S., prosecutors said.

The charity failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service that a $150,000 donation in 2000 went overseas to Saudi Arabia and was meant to be sent to Chechnya, prosecutors said. The charity falsely reported on its tax return that the money was used partly to buy a building in the U.S.

The foundation was disbanded after the U.S. government declared it was a terrorist organization and froze its assets…

Far from being a lawless series of raids in the early- to mid-2000s against innocent Islamic charities that CAIR and the ACLU have depicted, the successful convictions against the Holy Land Foundation and guilty pleas such a this illustrate that the Bush-era crackdowns on front charities was legitimate.

As part of the plea deal, Al Haramain’s former U.S. director, Pete Seda, who was previously convicted for his involvement in the case, is getting charges dropped against him.

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Nunn’s validation of Islamic Relief USA reveals system-wide failure

July 30, 2014

While she ran the Points of Light Foundation, U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn (D-Ga.), authorized MissionFish, a Points of Light donation processor, to pass contributions from eBay customers to charities of their choice, including Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA). The Nunn campaign refers to this authorization as “validation;” in other words, Points of Light had researched the charity and validated it for inclusion on MissionFish’s list of eligible charities.

The Nunn campaign argues that $33,000 donated by eBay shoppers passed through Points of Light to IR-USA does not constitute a donation by Points of Light to IR-USA. That is disingenuous because what actually happened is that Points of Light received these ear-marked donations and then cut a check themselves to IR-USA. Points of Light benefits from the transaction because it increases the appearance of their overall charitable volume. The eBay customers would not have been able to donate funds to IR-USA while completing their purchases online if MissionFish had excluded the organization on their menu of options.

IR-USA donates millions of dollars each year to Islamic Relief Worldwide, a UK-based organization that has been banned by Israel for aiding Hamas, and whose leadership is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. A Department of Justice official has implicated IR-USA for being a conduit for the flow of money from America to terrorist groups abroad. Russian intelligence indicates that IR-USA funds militants in the North Caucasus—the region where the family of the Boston marathon bombers originate. Nunn and Points of Light could have discovered several of the red flags about IR-USA, many of which had already cropped up before validation occurred, by conducting due diligence research or even a basic Internet search.

Unfortunately, Points of Light isn’t the first organization to legitimize IR-USA. IR-USA work has been acknowledged by Hillary Clinton’s State Department, the Obamas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it maintains 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.

These politicians and agencies have been willing to overlook questionable practices by IR-USA because of their eagerness to demonstrate cooperation with Muslim Americans and Islamic charitable sector. The embrace of IR-USA was exacerbated by IR-USA’s fraudulent representation of itself as a larger charity than it actually was by hyper-inflating the valuation of their deworming drug stockpiles. Although the value of deworming drugs may sound like a technical, minor point, it is not. IR-USA basically perpetrated a fraud for several years by overstating the value of the drugs which made up 75 percent of their assets. Bigger institutions like USDA and Points of Light are likelier to partner with bigger charities, which IR-USA seemed to be. If IR-USA had reported a truthful value of its donations and assets, it may not have been viewed as a big enough charity to attract institutional partners like these.

A major charitable bundler like Points of Light had the resources to discover the disturbing truths about IR-USA’s connections to Hamas and its fraudulent financial statements prior to validation. It’s time that federal agencies and institutional donors started paying less attention to warm-and-fuzzy statements by politicians about what a great partner a certain charity is, and pay more attention to the results of basic due diligence research. Until then, and until there are changes at the highest levels of the IRS and the Department of Justice, and a willingness to confront IR-USA for its history of misrepresentations, we will probably see decisions like Nunn’s repeated again.

This piece has also been published at Terror Finance Blog.

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Thousands of NGOs get foreign money but don’t report it

April 14, 2014

MHA warns of terror fundings in NGOs

India’s home ministry has found that the number of non-governmental organizations receiving funds from outside India is on the rise, and that most of the groups receiving the foreign funds aren’t reporting it as they are required to do under the law, highlighting the vulnerability that such funding goes toward terrorist purposes.

Some of the external funding involved comes from Western nonprofits that send money to Islamic front charities or alleged Kashmiri relief groups that are actually turning over the cash to jihadi militants.

India isn’t alone in the struggle to get nonprofit organizations to disclose foreign sources of funding. Compliance in the U.S. with the Foreign Agents Registration Act is a joke. Penalties for noncompliance with 501(c)(3) filing requirements are miniscule. The tendency for regulators globally is to be tougher on existing groups that have gone through the registration process rather than on discovery of groups that have failed to register.

These noncompliant groups need a site visit from the police. The policemen can wait while a manager at the NGO completes the required paperwork.

From the Daily Mail‘s India edition:

Government warns of NGOs’ vulnerability to terror funding and money laundering

By Abhishek Bhalla

PUBLISHED: 21 March 2014

Thousands of NGOs which receive foreign aid, many of whom do not file returns on such contributions, are vulnerable to terror funding and money laundering, the home ministry has warned.

Though there are more than 22,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), intelligence inputs indicate that there are many others that work secretly and are not registered.

On the other hand, 19,000 of the registered organisations do not file returns on foreign contributions.

Foreign funding for NGOs has risen by almost 12 per cent in 2011-12, with Rs 11,549 crore being pumped into these organisations from abroad every year, according to the home ministry’s latest report on the FCRA.

According to the report, foreign contributions worth Rs 2,253 crore come for activities other than the most common causes listed by the Ministry of Home Affairs for foreign contributions.

The common sectors for foreign funding are rural development, welfare of children, health, awareness camps and religious purposes.

“We need to know where this money is being used. We need to coordinate with the authorities of the donor countries and crack down on some of these NGOs,” said an official in the home ministry.

The five major donor countries are the US, Britain, Germany, Italy and Netherlands. Countries like the UAE, Mauritius, Austria, Sweden and Spain are also among the top 15 donor nations…

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Front charity news: recommended reading

March 27, 2014
  • The Shakhsiyah Foundation receives £70,000 a year in taxpayer money even though Prime Minister Cameron called it a front charity for extremism… more>>
  • Two would-be jihadists from North Carolina intended to use charity as a cover story for their mission overseas… more>>
  • The Turkish “charity” IHH funds and supports Hamas, but has yet to be designated as a terrorist organization by the Obama administration… more>>
  • İMKANDER, another Turkish charity, has taken to the streets in a massive rally to eulogize Doku Umarov, the terror chief of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate (h/t Ayre)… more>>
  • A Dutch money launderer has signed his own death warrant by stealing $35,000 from a Hamas front charity… more>>

 

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Charities paid off al-Shabaab to work in Somalia

December 12, 2013

Relief agencies operating in Somalia in 2011 made payments the terrorist organization al-Shabaab as a precondition for distributing aid to the famine-struck country.  This revelation comes to us from a new report by the Overseas Development Institute and the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies.

This travesty demonstrates the need for stronger supply chain management by international relief charities.  Paying kickbacks to a terror group for the “privilege” of operating on their turf simply helps the terrorist group continue buying weapons and victimizing the population within their territory.

When it’s a diamond mining operation or an international fruit company, leftists are justifiably quick to point out the evils of corporate protection money paid to militants because of slipshod management.  But when a charity does the same thing, universities and think tanks still tirelessly defend their right of charities to operate in conflict zones despite the risks of aid and supplies ending up in terrorists’ hands.

The BBC (h/t to Rushette and Jihad Watch) offers some details from the report:

…It gives one example of al-Shabab diverting food aid in the town of Baidoa, where it is reported to have kept between half and two-thirds of food aid for its fighters.

Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, developed a highly sophisticated system of monitoring and co-opting the aid agencies, even setting up a “Humanitarian Co-ordination Office”.

Aid groups had to deal with this office, even though they risked legal problems by doing so because of counter-terrorism laws in other states which forbid engagement with groups like al-Shabab.

The report says agencies who worked in al-Shabab-held areas had to complete special forms and sign a pledge saying they would refrain from certain social and religious activities.

It also describes how al-Shabab gave people extra food if they spied on the aid groups…

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Canadian auditors: Game over for Islamic charity

September 29, 2013

It’s final.  ISNA’s tax-exempt status has been revoked by the Canada Revenue Agency after an efficient and pointed audit that revealed ISNA sent nearly $300,000 to a terrorist organization in Kashmir.  Language from auditors and tax professionals is normally guarded, nuanced, and measured.  Read with that understanding of their profession in mind, the public announcement by CRA of their findings is scathing.  An excerpt follows.  Thanks to the reliable Gisele for sending this in:

…Our analysis of the information obtained during the course of the audit has led the CRA to believe that the Organization had entered into a funding arrangement with the Kashmiri Canadian Council/Kashmiri Relief Fund of Canada (KCC/KRFC), non-qualified donees under the Act, with the ultimate goal of sending the raised funds to a Pakistan-based non-governmental organization named the Relief Organization for Kashmiri Muslims (ROKM) without maintaining direction and control. Under the arrangement, KCC/KRFC raised funds for “relief work” in Kashmir, and the Organization supplied official donation receipts to the donors and disbursed over $281,696 to ROKM, either directly, or via KCC/KRFC.

Our research indicates that ROKM is the charitable arm of Jamaat-e-Islami, a political organization that actively contests the legitimacy of India’s governance over the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including reportedly through the activities of its armed wing Hizbul Mujahideen. Hizbul Mujahideen is listed as a terrorist entity by the Council of the European Union and is declared a banned terrorist organization by the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967.

Given the commonalities in directorship between ROKM and Jamaat-e-Islami, concerns exist that the Organization’s resources may have been used to support the political efforts of Jamaat-e-Islami and/or its armed wing, Hizbul Mujahideen.”

The Government of Canada has made it clear that it will not tolerate the abuse of the registration system for charities to provide any means of support to terrorism. Canada’s public policy recognizes that the tax advantages of charitable registration should not be extended to organizations whose resources may have been made available, knowingly or unknowingly, to a terrorist entity, whether such financing is direct or indirect through organizations that claim to have nominally “charitable,” social, or cultural aims…

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Helping Hand honored despite close ties to a Hamas-funding Pakistani charity

September 12, 2013

Charity Navigator, a leading evaluator of nonprofit groups in the U.S., has published 15 different “top 10” lists to help donors assess charities.  Among those lists is a list of 10 charities with low overhead costs that rely on private donations.  Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a Michigan-based Islamic charity, ranks seventh on that list.

Charity Navigator does not appear to have factored in Helping Hand’s ongoing cooperation (see here and here) with the Al-Khidmat Foundation, a Pakistani charity which gave a 6 million rupee check to Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in 2006.

The Pakistani tie-in is even more alarming considering that the auditing firm that prepared Helping Hand’s financial statement for 2011, the most recent year available, divulged that “We did not audit the financial statements of the Organization’s operations in Pakistan which reflect total assets and revenues constituting 55 percent and 60 percent, respectively, of the related consolidated totals.”

It is also worth noting that Helping Hand reported having $7 million in medical supply and drug assets in their last tax return.  The fair market valuation of drugs donated to and distributed by charities, especially deworming medication, has been an area of increased scrutiny.  Helping Hand states that it uses current accounting standards to comply with IRS mandates in this area, but some analysts still believe that in-kind donations to charities are being overstated.  This has the effect of exaggerating the net worth of some charities, and it makes administrative costs appear to be a small share relative to their size.  Charity Navigator is well aware of this ongoing controversy, but how closely it examined drug valuations by charities on their top 10 lists is unclear.

The Charity Navigator rating is already being exploited by Helping Hand, which is running a banner across its homepage in large font and all capital letters with misleading phrases “TOP 10 HIGHLY RATED CHARITY” and “DONATE WITH CONFIDENCE” along with Helping Hand and Charity Navigator logos.  Muslim news websites such as ABNA (hat tip to Creeping Sharia and Islamist Watch) have touted the rating as well.

The Muslim advocacy group ICNA has also congratulated Helping Hand for the rating in a press release.  But the ICNA statement should be taken with a grain of salt because 1) ICNA is a partner organization with Helping Hand, and 2) ICNA has received a loan from Helping Hand with favorable financing terms.  ICNA’s indebtedness to Helping Hand was not disclosed in the press release.

Institutional donors who may be considering donations to Helping Hand and private donors who intend to give zakat to Helping Hand should consider the serious questions about Helping Hand’s operations in Pakistan and donate elsewhere.  Banks with relationships with Helping Hand should also review the risk of maintaining those accounts.

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Liberal judges toss Chechen financier’s conviction

September 8, 2013

Just four months after the Boston marathon bombing, two federal judges on a three-judge panel have overturned the conviction of the Oregon-based Islamic “charity leader” and terrorist fundraiser Pete Seda, who helped facilitate the transfer of $130,000 to Chechen terrorists in the early 2000s.

Activists like Seda have served as key conduits for funneling zakat donations from Western countries through Islamic front charities to jihadist causes around the world.  The revenues supported the creation of websites and recruitment tools that helped radicalize North Caucasus diaspora like Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Seda’s conviction was overturned by Judge Mary Schroeder, who was appointed by Jimmy Carter, and Judge Margaret McKeown, who was appointed by Bill Clinton and considered for a Supreme Court appointment by Barack Obama, on the grounds of alleged unfairness during the Seda investigation and trial.

The two judges claim that the Seda trial began as a white collar crime case but ended as a terrorism case, that some information about a witness named Barbara Cabral was not shared with defense attorneys, and that the scope of a warrant served against Seda before the trial was exceeded by law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Judge Robert Tallman, a Republican who was appointed by Bill Clinton, delivered a vigorous dissent from the liberal judges’ opinion.  Oregon’s Daily Tidings summarizes Judge Tallman’s reasoning:

…In his dissenting opinion, Judge Richard Tallman wrote that the majority judges in the appeal improperly failed to take into consideration that [trial court judge] Hogan held a separate hearing on the Cabral issues before ruling the evidence would not have changed the jury’s verdict.

Tallman wrote that the appellate judges should not reverse Hogan’s ruling without it being “clearly erroneous,” which was not the case.

Moreover, Tallman’s minority opinion argued that the scope of the search warrant was not breached by agents searching Seda’s computers and that the other issues do not rise to the level necessary for overturning the jury’s guilty verdict.

Tallman also took issue with the majority opinion’s apparent dismissing of the key evidence in the actual tax fraud and conspiracy charges that were at the core of the case against Seda.

Seda and his codefendant, a Saudi national named Soliman Al-Buthe, went to great lengths and expenses to convert funds wired to Al-Haramain into $130,000 worth of hard-to-trace $1,000 cashier’s checks that Al-Buthe then carried from Ashland to Saudi Arabia in 2000, according to Tallman’s opinion.

Al-Buthe, also known as Al-Buthi, did so in violation of federal financial-reporting rules that he had complied with on nine other occasions, Tallman noted.

Also, Al-Buthe carried with him and failed to report that he was carrying a cashier’s check made out to him at an Ashland bank for $21,000, which Al-Buthe deposited in his personal bank account in Saudi Arabia.

“A reasonable jury could have concluded on this evidence that this was Al-Buthe’s ‘cut’ for serving as the courier,” Tallman wrote.

The jury also heard plenty of evidence on what Tallman calls the “deceitful manner” in which Seda hid the smuggled money by falsely declaring on a tax return that the money went toward the purchase of a prayer house in Missouri.

Had the men’s intent been not to smuggle the money to the Middle East, Seda simply could have wired the money directly to Al-Haramain’s main office in Saudi Arabia for about $15, Tallman wrote.

“The jury obviously thought the entire handling of the money reeked of criminal intent, as evidenced by its verdict,” Tallman wrote.

Hat tip to Rushette for alerting us to the appeals court decision.