Another ICNA sponsored convention has passed, drawing thousands of attendees, each charged a significant amount of money to do so. But where do the funds raised at this and other ICNA functions go? Next month, an unenviable anniversary will take place, memorializing a time when ICNA was involved in the financing of a terrorist group overseas. Given the group’s close ties to those that delivered the blood money, it is no small chance that the funds raised at the convention will wind up in the same hands.
Hamas was placed on the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), in January of 1995. According to the United States government, it is illegal to provide financial support to any group found on that list. Yet, information ascertained by this author suggests that one Muslim organization, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), has done this and has gotten away with it.
ICNA or the Organization of Islamic Workers was established in 1971 as the American arm of the Muslim Brotherhood of Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). As highlighted on the website of ICNA’s publication, The Message International, “Using the organizational development methodology of [JI founder] Maulana Mawdudi and the Jamaat Al-Islami of Pakistan, which lays special emphasis on spiritual development, ICNA has developed a strong foundation.”
Today, ICNA acts as an umbrella organization for South Asian-oriented mosques and Islamic centers throughout the United States and Canada. Nevertheless, the group’s relationship with JI still remains intact.
The domain registrant for ICNA’s National website, as well as the website of the organization’s dawaa (religious outreach) division, Why Islam (WI), is farrukh.net. Named for current ICNA National Director Raza Farrukh, farrukh.net was originally a mirror site for Jamaat-e-Islami’s media division.
Now, the media division has been merged onto JI’s official website. Through it, the group issues numerous press releases. In 2006, several of the releases dealt with Hamas.
On January 26, 2006, after Hamas won a landslide victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, JI issued a statement praising the group and its dead leaders. It read in part, “Jamaat-e-Islami ameer [President] Qazi Hussain Ahmad has termed the election victory of Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Palestine a major development for the Palestinian and resistance movement. [Via phone with the head of Hamas Khaled Mashaal], Ahmad paid rich tributes to the sacrifices of Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Rintisi and other Palestinian martyrs which paved the way for today success.”
The following day, JI issued another press release lauding Hamas’s victory. It stated, “Thanksgiving prayers were offered throughout the country to express happiness over the victory of Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Palestinian parliamentary elections. The JI leaders and workers after offering Friday prayers distributed sweets among people and chanted slogans in favour of Islamic resistance movements throughout the world.”
On March 26, 2006, JI published a release blamelessly quoting Hamas leader Mohammad Mehmood Al Siyam verbally attacking Jews. The quotes included “Hamas cannot think of abandoning jihad against the Jewish occupation forces.” and “We will never let the Jews rule Palestinian territories.”
On April 18, 2006, JI announced that it was planning to finance Hamas and that JI’s President, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, was going to make a “formal appeal” to the nation of Pakistan to do the same. At the time, JI was aware that its actions flew in the face of the international community which had leveled economic sanctions on Hamas.
On April 28, 2006, JI published a release saying that it had set up a fund for Hamas and placed an initial amount of 10 million rupees, the equivalent of $165,000 U.S., in it. It read, “[JI President Qazi Hussain Ahmad] said US and Israel have joined hands to crush Islam and Muslims, and it was the duty of the Muslim world to fully back Hamas in order to make its first elected government survive the western economic onslaught.”
Then, four months later, in August of 2006, JI issued a statement saying that it had sent a delegation to Damascus, Syria to personally deliver a check for six million rupees ($99,000) to the head of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal. Mashaal thanked the group for the money and assured it that Hamas would continue to wage violent jihad against Israelis.
The gift to Mashaal was made through JI’s “charitable” wing, the Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF), which is located in Lahore, Pakistan. At the time of the money handover, as is the case today, ICNA was listed on AKF’s website as the organization’s top two donors, under the names ICNA-Relief USA and ICNA-Relief Canada.
Just as AKF is the “charitable” function of JI, ICNA-Relief is ICNA’s “charity.” The group also has a sister “charity” called Helping Hand, which has an office located in Islamabad, Pakistan. [Helping Hand is listed as an AKF donor, as well.]
Zahid Hussain Bukhari is the Chairman of ICNA-Relief. He has served in that capacity, since 1996. As such, Bukhari had headed the group, when the $99,000 was given over to Hamas. Prior to his tenure as ICNA-Relief Chairman, from 1990 – 1995, he was the Secretary General of ICNA. It is interesting to note that all information concerning Bukhari’s roles in ICNA has been omitted from his Georgetown University bio, where he acts as Director of the school’s American Muslim Studies Program (AMSP).
This month, Bukhari was a participant at the 33rd ICNA-MAS Convention, titled ‘Islam: Key to Peace and Happiness.’ He was a speaker for four of the gathering’s events. Two of the events joined him with then-Chairman of the Hamas-related Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Parvez Ahmed.
Functions, such as these, attract thousands of members of the American Muslim community, raising large sums of cash. But where does the money go? Just two short years ago, at least some of it went to Hamas.
In January of 2004, ICNA was named in a U.S. Senate terror financing investigation, headed by then-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Charles Grassley. In the end, ICNA got off ‘scott free.’
In February of 2006, the U.S. government shut down the Islamic “charity,” KindHearts, for the raising of millions of dollars for Hamas. At the time, then-President of ICNA, Zulfiqar Ali Shah, was the South Asian Director for the group. It took four years for the government to take action against KindHearts. How many years will the government take to move against ICNA, and how many deaths will Hamas be responsible for in the interval?
Will the government continue to ignore the facts about ICNA, or will it do the right thing and freeze ICNA’s funds for its role in the financing of Hamas?