Last month, this author exposed how the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a group tied to the financing of Hamas, has been “partnering” with the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), claiming to be providing aid to those affected by Hurricane Katrina and the California wildfires. It has now been learned that another group said to be linked to Hamas, Islamic Relief, also has a working relationship with FEMA. Question: Has our government placed American disaster assistance into the hands of an overseas terrorist group?
Islamic Relief (IR) was founded in Birmingham, England in 1984. Since then, it has opened up offices around the world; hence its UK headquarters designation, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). Today, it has subsidiaries located in over 30 countries, including the United States.
According to the group’s website, IR “seeks to promote sustainable economic and social development by working with local communities through relief and development programmes.” As noble as that sounds, the group has had a checkered past. In 1999, it was reported that IR had collected and sent over $6 million to Chechen rebels with ties to Al-Qaeda. The same year, IR received $50,000 from Human Concern International (HCI), a “charity” that the U.S. Department of Treasury described as a “Bin Laden front.” Shortly after the September 11th attacks, IR, itself, would be investigated by the Treasury Department, as a “possible source of funding for Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.”
In May of 2006, Israel labeled IR a Hamas front, after Israeli security services arrested the organization’s Program Manager for Gaza, Ayaz Ali, for providing assistance to the terror group. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (IMFA): “[Ali] admitted to being a member of the UK-based Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), which is suspected of supporting Hamas... [H]e worked to transfer funds and assistance to various Hamas institutions and organizations, including the Al Wafa and Al Tzalah associations, which have been outlawed in Israel. He also admitted that he worked in Jordan and cooperated with local Hamas operatives.”
The founder and President of IR is Hani Al-Banna, a former trustee of Muslim Aid, a global “charity” based in London, England. While Al-Banna was associated with MA, the group was a “partner organization” to the Al-Salah Islamic Association, a Gaza-based entity that the U.S. Treasury Department designated a “Key Support Node for Hamas,” along with its Director, Ahmed Al-Kurd, who the U.S. government also designated a “terrorist.” As well, while Al-Banna was involved with MA, the group was a partner to organizations directly related to the Muslim Brotherhood of Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), including the Al-Khidmat Hospital based in Karachi.
Despite the group’s storied connections to entities found on the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), IR has been allowed to operate within the United States.
Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA) is located in Buena Park, California, though it has regional offices based in Totowa, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Plano, Texas. The corporate address of IR-USA is in Burbank, California. It was incorporated in October of 1993, and the Registered Agent for the incorporation is listed as Kazbek Soobzokov, the former attorney for terror operative Wagdy Ghoneim. Ghoneim, who has just last year called for violence against Jews, was deported from the United States and refused entry into Canada after it was discovered that he was a member of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Not only is IR permitted to operate inside the United States, but the U.S. government is actually involved with the organization.
IR-USA has devoted an entire page on its website to discussing its dealings with Hurricane Katrina, the natural disaster that ravaged large parts of numerous states throughout the South. Under the header ‘Louisiana,’ it is written, “Islamic Relief is working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (our team has secured a desk at their headquarters in Baton Rouge), and now has access to all of its resources, including use of their inter-agency warehouse.”
In IR-USA’s 2006 “Special Edition” newsletter commemorating the 43rd Annual Convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) – an umbrella organization for mosques that was named by the U.S. government an “Unindicted Co-conspirator” for the 2007 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial dealing with millions of dollars in Hamas fundraising – IR refers to FEMA as a “partner.” The newsletter states: “Working with partners such as the Second Harvest Food Bank and FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Warehouse, Islamic Relief has distributed essential goods such as food supplies, water, and other household items to hurricane victims.”
For its efforts, IR-USA has gained the praise of such noteworthy political figures as Senator Ted Kennedy and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, but by overlooking IR’s extremism, FEMA and the politicians are playing a dangerous game with the American public. And not only are these relationships problematic, but the “partnerships” that IR has with other militant Islamist groups has made the problem that much worse.
In September of 2005, in response to Hurricane Katrina, a coalition of major Islamist groups formed the Muslim Hurricane Relief Task Force (MHRTF). In addition to IR, the task force involved, amongst others, CAIR, which was created by Hamas; ICNA, which was involved in Hamas financing; and KindHearts, which was shut down for being a Hamas front.
The North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) controls the finances of hundreds of mosques throughout the United States and Canada, including some of the most radical Muslim institutions. NAIT, like its sister organization ISNA, was named as an “Unindicted Co-conspirator” for the HLF trial that began this past July. At the same time NAIT was designated as such, the organization had on its website the following: “At the end of August 2005, NAIT organized a project aimed at restoration of Katrina-affected Islamic centers & schools in Louisiana and Mississippi... Islamic Relief USA joined NAIT in providing financial assistance to the affected centers.”
The above information is still found on NAIT’s site, which further states, “As of fall 2006, NAIT has conveyed formal approval of four grants for a total of $175,000 for the repair of three masajid [mosques] and one Islamic school.” Question: Where did these grants come from? Our government?
On October 11, 2001, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani refused a check for $10 million from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal that bin Talal had handed him for “disaster relief,” following the 9/11 attacks. The reason given for the refusal was that bin Talal had appended to the money statements that attempted to equate terrorists, such as the ones that attacked us, with how the Israeli government fights terrorism. Essentially the check came with a price that was completely unacceptable.
What price is our government paying for allowing Islamic Relief, a Muslim extremist group, to get involved as a “partner” to the government, when it comes to natural disasters, be it Katrina, California wildfires or anything else? And what price are we as Americans going to pay in the end? The American public must demand answers from FEMA, because it is obvious that FEMA, a division of Homeland Security, will not seek them on its own.