Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) has been designated as a terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates, the second Middle Eastern country to do so within the past five months. In June, IRW was declared illegal by Israel for being a financial conduit to Hamas, and it was banned from operating in Israel and the West Bank.
The Birmingham, England-based IRW is the largest international Islamic charity in the world with a £155 million (240 million USD) budget in 2013. IRW has over 280 employees and is active in more than 30 countries. IRW maintains over a dozen affiliates throughout the world, each with multi-million dollar operating budgets of their own including Islamic Relief USA, which is the largest Islamic charity in America.
IRW accepted a $50,000 check from Osama Bin Laden in 1999, had a Gaza program coordinator who aided Hamas from 2005-06, received over £60K from an Al Qaeda front group from 2003-08, has leaders who are closely aligned with the global Muslim Brotherhood, and had programs staffed by Hamas personnel in the Palestinian territories as recently as this year. Supporters of IRW have noted that the UK’s charitable regulator has not confirmed the evidence against IRW; however, a 2013 audit found that the Charity Commission is understaffed, too passive in its investigations, and is generally unfit for its regulatory duties.
UAE calls 15 Muslim groups in the West “terrorists”
In addition to the IRW designation, the UAE named 15 other Islamic charities and advocacy groups in the U.S. and Europe as terrorist entities:
- Islamic Relief UK (the British affiliate of IRW)
- Muslim Association of Britain (part of the U.K. Muslim Brotherhood)
- Cordoba Foundation in Britain (once described by David Cameron as a Muslim Brotherhood front group)
- Council on American-Islamic Relations (the self-described civil rights group which was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas-financing trial)
- Muslim American Society (which was created by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood)
- Union of Islamic Organizations of France (a French Muslim group tied to the Muslim Brotherhood that profits from halal certification)
- Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (an alliance financed by Gulf sources with ties to Hamas)
- Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland (the “main representative” of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany)
- Associazione Musulmani Italiani (Italian Muslim Association)
- League of Muslims in Belgium (La Ligue des Musulmans de Belgique)
- Muslim Association of Sweden (Sveriges muslimska förbund)
- Islamic Society in Denmark (Islamsk Trossamfund)
- Islamic Council Norway (Islamsk Rad Norge)
- Finnish Islamic Association (Suomen Islam-seurakunta)
- CANVAS in Belgrade, Serbia
The UAE designated over 80 groups overall, most of which are located in the Middle East. The practical effect of the designations are limited, designed for “transparency” and to “raise awareness.” In other words, the designations include not asset freezes, travel bans, or prohibitions on transacting business with the designated groups.