Posts Tagged ‘Islamic Relief USA’

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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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Leadership shuffle at U.S. Islamic charities

November 9, 2014

In May of 2013, the financial rating of Islamic Relief USA, the nation’s largest Islamic charity, was downgraded from four stars to two stars by the nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator. By October of 2013, it was announced that IR-USA’s chief executive officer, Abed Ayoub, was leaving IR-USA to take over a northern Virginia charity now known as United Muslim Relief (UMR), that had dropped its old name, “Muslims Without Borders” one day earlier.

While he was CEO of IR-USA, Ayoub presided over a period of falsely inflated growth for the well-known Islamic charity. By grossly misstating the value of deworming drugs, IR-USA gave the appearance of having over received over $160 million in donations in 2010. When it used corrected valuation techniques in 2011, IR-USA reported contributions of only $60 million. The fraudulent bookkeeping of 2001-2010 enabled IR-USA to attract larger institutional donors than it otherwise would have, along with political endorsements from top Democrats and partnerships with federal agencies. Smaller Islamic charities were some of the victims of this fraud, because federal officials have often encouraged Muslim donors to give their zakat to larger, more “trustworthy,” charities like IR-USA. During Ayoub’s final year as CEO, IR-USA donated over $100,000 to nonprofits and mosques connected with terrorism.

Ayoub was replaced by Anwar Khan as IR-USA’s new chief executive officer in June of this year shortly before Israel banned Islamic Relief Worldwide (an IR-USA partner) from operating in Israel due to its financial connections to Hamas.

As for UMR, in its last publicly available tax return for 2012, the charity reported that it received $700,000 in medicine donations, but it is unclear what method was used to calculate that value. UMR did not have its financial statements independently audited in 2012. UMR’s main charitable activities for 2012 took place in Syria. The director of UMR at the time was Shafi Khan, who is still active with UMR both as a vice president and governing board member.

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Islamic Relief gave $118K to terror-linked groups

September 21, 2014

New tax documents reveal that Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA), the largest Islamic charity in the United States, gave over $118,000 in grants in 2013 to entities with previous connections to terrorism.

IR-USA’s 2013 tax return, which was filed in July 2014, showed that the charity gave $45,495 in grants to the Florida branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful 2007 prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for financing the terrorist organization Hamas.

Their form 990 also shows that IR-USA gave $40,000 to the radical mosque Dar Al-Hijrah in Falls Church, Virginia, for a “zakat partner program.” Deceased terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki served as the mosque’s imam leading up to and immediately following the 9/11 attacks.

The tax schedule also documented almost $32,909 in grants to Services for Human Advancement and Resource Enhancement (SHARE) affiliates in Atlanta and Indianapolis of the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), a group which was founded by an unindicted co-conspirator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

IR-USA has been involved in several scandals in recent years: Money Jihad previously reported that IR-USA gives about $5 to $10 million per year to its parent charity Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), which has recently been banned from Israel for funding Hamas. IR-USA was also implicated in fraudulent multi-million dollar valuations of its drug stockpiles. More recently, Islamic Relief affiliates have described their own partnerships with the pro-Hamas front charity IHH to conduct operations in rebel-controlled territory in Syria.

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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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Islamic Relief Worldwide programs staffed by Hamas

July 18, 2014

Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) activities in the Palestinian territories are run by Hamas operatives, according to Israeli officials.

The way it works is that IRW, a British-based charity, raises substantial funds from institutional donors, government funding, and zakat from individual Muslim donors. IRW also receives money from its affiliates around the world, including millions of dollars in gifts from Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA).

IRW then sends money to field offices and partnering organizations in the Palestinian territories. Israel’s Shin Bet security service says that several of the offices and projects that are carried out with IRW funding are being conducted by Hamas personnel.

IR-USA, a charity publicly cited by Obama appointees as a valued and trusted aid group, is privately tagged by Justice Department sources as the successor to the Holy Land Foundation, which was shuttered during the Bush administration for funding Hamas. The Clarion Project (h/t to Rushette) notes that IR-USA receives support from bigtime donors and enjoys close ties to the Obama administration.

Israel should share what information it can with the UK in order for the British to 1) strip IRW of its charity status and, 2) shut down IRW. There is no time to waste with the useless UK Charity Commission. This case should be dealt with at higher levels.

Canada Revenue Agency, which has been extremely successful in taking prompt action to remove the tax-exempt status from terror financing charities, should also review Islamic Relief Canada’s projects.

The U.S. should follow suit, and should strip IR-USA of its tax-exempt status, since IR-USA money is ultimately going toward Hamas projects, and not toward the charitable purposes for which 501(c)(3) status is intended.

Any banks providing services to IRW and IR-USA should take note of these developments, and minimize their own risks and exposure to terrorist financing by closing their accounts (as UBS already did in 2012) with these “charities.”

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Islamic Relief’s financial rating tumbles

July 1, 2013

The financial health of the largest Islamic charity in the U.S. has been downgraded by Charity Navigator from four to two stars.  The financial rating lowered Islamic Relief USA’s overall rating down to three stars—IR-USA’s lowest rating since fiscal year 2001.  The following chart is a portion of Charity Navigator’s ratings from the present going back to 2008:

Charity Navigator gives IR-USA low marks

The rating was published in May and reflects data from 2011.  Charity Navigator is widely regarded as the nation’s top evaluator of nonprofits.

A decline in IR-USA’s stated revenues and soaring administrative costs contributed to the downgrade.  IR-USA reported $160 million in donations in 2010 but only $63 million in 2011.  At face value, the plummeting revenues suggest fewer donations, but a more accurate valuation and decrease of in-kind donations of medicine has more to do with the apparent financial nosedive.

In 2011, Forbes reported that Diana Sufian, an independent contractor, was terminated by IR-USA after hyper-inflating the charity’s assets over a five year period.  Sufian used grossly inaccurate valuations of deworming drugs.  The overstatement was no minor bookkeeping technicality—IR-USA’s drug stockpiles represented 75 percent of their stated assets.

Sufian was paid $510,000 for the year in which she was fired for services she performed.  One wonders why Ms. Sufian has never been charged with financial statement fraud.

Rather than being fired by the board of IR-USA over the Sufian drug value catastrophe, the charity’s CEO Adeb Ayoub is paid $168K a year, and has been reappointed by the Obama administration as an adviser to the State Department for the next two years.

IR-USA donates millions of dollars each year to Islamic Relief Worldwide, a UK-based organization that has aided 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.

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Russia says 50 groups in U.S. raise funds for North Caucasus extremists

May 26, 2013

According to the Jamahiriya News Agency, Russian intelligence reveals that 50 organizations, many of which are Islamic charities, are actively soliciting and distributing funds from their headquarters in U.S. to terrorist groups in the North Caucasus—the same region where Tamerlan Tsarnaev journeyed prior to the Boston Marathon bombings.  Islamic Relief, the largest Muslim charity in America, is included on Russia’s list.  Read it all:

…According to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, over 60 international extremist organizations, about 100 foreign companies and 10 banking groups participate in providing financial, material and other assistance to the terrorists «touring» the Northern Caucasus. In the U.S. alone, almost 50 organizations are raising funds for the Northern Caucasian extremists. And this is not the entire list of the Chechen terrorists’ accomplices in the U.S.; these organizations began sponsoring the rebels from the moment the bands led by Basayev and Khattab (the latter of which is known to be an emissary of Ben Laden, a staff member of the CIA, and a Canadian citizen who was stripped of his native Jordanian citizenship for his links to American intelligence agencies) invaded the territory of Dagestan.

The following groups are actively raising funds in the U.S.: the Muslim American Bar Association; the Islamic American Center, located in Washington; the Muslim American Council; Islamic Relief/Chechnya appeal, registered with the U.S. Department of State; Islamic City Relief; the Islamic-American Zakat Foundation (president I. Akhmadov); the Islamic Action Center; the Chechen-Ingush Society of America, also known as Chechen relief expenses, with a division called Chechen Relief (president Dr. Mohkammed Musa Shishani); the international Muslim organization Al-Ehsan Charitable Relief Organisation, with its headquarters in Washington; the International Relief Association in Michigan; Islamic Relief Worldwide in California; Mercy International, with its headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan; and the Benevolence International Foundation. In regard to the latter organization, it must be noted that when in January 2003 U.S. intelligence agencies found the head of the foundation, Syrian (or Albanian) American Enaam Arnaut, in the course of investigating sources of financing for Al Qaeda, he admitted that the foundation finances rebels in Chechnya and Bosnia; earlier, in October 2002, U.S. attorney general D. Ashcroft charged him with financing Ben Laden, but when Arnaut stated that the money was going to Chechen terrorists and not Ben Laden, Ashcroft…dropped all charges against him.

The following U.S. organizations also provide various support to Chechen extremists, constantly monitor the situation in Chechnya and conduct political campaigns “in support of the struggling people of Chechnya”: the American Muslim Council; the American Committee for peace in Chechnya; the American Friends Service Committee; and the Islamic Circle of North America.

The role of the organization American Muslim Assistance (AMA) deserves special mention. It is registered with the U.S. State Department, and its main task is «helping our Muslim brothers throughout the world». The director of AMA, Sheikh Hisham Muhammad Kabbani, who is also the chairman of the influential Islamic Supreme Council of America, chairman of the As-Sunna Foundation of America, and the founder and chairman of the Haqqani Islamic Trust for New Muslims, is known as the author of many works on Islam. AMA operates in the Northern Caucasus and conducts active propaganda to discredit the actions of the Russian authorities. AMA often acts under the cover of other Muslim organizations, in particular, the Islamic Supreme Council of America, which unites 15 million Muslims living in the U.S.

Active propaganda and political activity in the interests of Chechen separatists in the U.S. are also conducted by: the online company Amina Network, with an office in Washington; Human Assistance Development International, which has been in existence for 13 years; an Islamic information server for spreading the ideas of Chechen separatism and extremism on the Internet; and the public relations office of Ruder Finn, Inc. The Islamic Charity Foundation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations regularly organize media presentations in support of Chechen extremists, interact on a regular basis with many American analytical centers, and initiate hearings in the U.S. Congress, to which they actively invite consultants, experts and U.S. government advisors…

Islamic Relief USA’s website says that Islamic Relief was one of the first aid agencies in Chechnya in the ‘90s and that it has worked in the North Caucasus since 1995.