The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) continues its destructive agenda of aiding Palestinian terror against Israel. Prosecuting its agenda by recruiting international volunteers, mostly radical students from the United States, Canada, and Europe, it dispatches them to Israel under the guise of "nonviolent peace activists." Posing as agents of charitable goodwill, these radicals then interfere with the Israeli army’s anti-terrorist operations.
The ISM purposely masks this extremist agenda. It does so by creating multi-layers of anti-Israel groups all over the United States. The reason behind this stratified organizational arrangement is twofold. First, the ISM aims to create the impression of a mass movement. Second, the group hopes to make it impossible for the government to pin down any centralized organization or leadership that could be held up to scrutiny.
Thus, when one organization comes under scrutiny for its extremist activities, the others can simply claim in their defense that it does not speak for them. Yet there is a clear connection between all the groups under the ISM’s umbrella: All share a "solidarity" in their communal commitment to the idea of dismantling the state of Israel "by any means necessary."
Since the onset of the war in Iraq, the ISM’s anti-Israel mission has undergone an expansion. No longer committed merely to ending the Israeli "occupation" of the Palestinian territories, ISM and its affiliates now hope to terminate the "US occupation of Iraq." In a sense, this is unsurprising: The Ba’ath Party in Iraq, along with the Syrian Ba’athists, have always been the PLO’s staunchest allies. But the ISM is not content to declare its support for the enemies of the United States. Many of its organizational layers actively aid American enemies by raising funds to be sent overseas. These funds may well end up in the hands of terrorist organizations or individual terrorists who pose threats to both Israeli and American security.
Just as it has sought to camouflage its radical mission, the ISM has labored to conceal the funds it raises to implement it. The chief method of disguising this fundraising has been claiming that it is for charitable purposes. This is the same tactic used by radical charities raising funds for terrorism. Typical was the case of the SAAR Trust Group, which contained several distinct charities. Located in the same building in Virginia, they were all charitable fronts created, mostly with the backing of Saudi money, to collect funds for terrorism. Among them were the Holy Land Foundation and World Assembly of Muslim Youth. All of these charities enjoyed U.S. tax-exempt status before finally being shuttered by U.S. authorities. The U.S. government has cracked down on similar fundraising schemes set up by al-Qaeda to raise money in the Untied States for the purpose of promoting worldwide jihad.
Yet with respect to the ISM, the government has failed to detect that the same tactic is being used. For instance, a study of the various non-profits in the United States representing the ISM reveals gross violations of U.S. tax laws regarding fundraising and activities. In order to make fundraising by numerous ISM groups easier for donors, they utilize the tax-exempt status of certain organizations within the ISM conglomerate of groups to funnel the money. The tax laws currently allow an organization to request that checks be made out to an ISM tax-exempt organization, which then disperses the money to the local group or abroad where it can fall into the hands of terrorists (since donations and money are fungible assets, exactly where the money goes is questionable). ISM-affiliated groups and clubs all over the United States, many operating out of American college campuses, all do fundraising and recruiting on an enormous scale.
Tax-exempt status for charitable groups is based on strict IRS codes of conduct for the privilege of accepting donations at no expense to the donors. In the 1994 case of the Nationalist Movement v. Commissioner, U.S. tax court upheld it impermissible in cases that were "organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary or educational purposes…no part of net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation…and which does not participate in, or interview in…any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office (see 501 (c) )." Yet, as we shall see, these IRS codes of conduct have been consistently violated by the ISM.
Group #1: The Middle East Children’s Alliance
One tax-exempt organization that is part of the ISM and has even identified itself as the financial arm of the ISM is the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) located in Berkeley, California, and run byfar-Left Berkleyite Barbara Lubin. ISM groups that are not legal entities, but skeleton groups designed to attract new members or fundraise, have frequently made checks out to MECA.
MECA has been violating U.S. tax laws regarding requirements for being a tax-exempt foundation for years. For instance, on its tax forms, Lubin’s organization insists that it is a charity for children in the Middle East. What it does not say in its tax return—but what is clearly stated on its website—is that it functions as the financial arm of the ISM, an organization that maintains it is "Palestinian-led." U.S. law requires that organizations that function for overseas governments must be registered as foreign agents, something MECA has never done.
In addition, MECA appears to be in violation of U.S. tax laws as they apply to nonprofit organizations, since these statutes specify that funding cannot be used for propaganda or for political purposes. The laws also bar collecting and funneling tax-free donations to an entity (the ISM) that engages in criminal activity: This organization neglected to tell the IRS that it is raising funds for an organization (the ISM) that is involved in criminal activities in Israel. The ISM’s website states:
Donations may also be sent to:
ISM - USA
PO BOX 5073
BERKELEY CA 94705-0073
Please make checks out to: "MECA (ISM-USA Fund)".
The Middle East Children’s Alliance is the fiscal sponsor for ISM-USA. They are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Their tax exemption number is: 94-3074600.
The same ISM website that MECA uses to proclaim itself the fiscal sponsor for the ISM all over the United States also shows that the ISM is openly involved with criminal interference (euphemistically called "direct-action methods") against Israeli security procedures against terrorism.
The following appears on the ISM national website:
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles.
Direct Action - challenging crippling checkpoints and curfew, confronting tanks and demolition equipment, removing roadblocks, participating in nonviolent demonstrations, accompanying farmers to their fields and protecting families whose homes are threatened with demolition.
"Challenging checkpoints and curfews," "confronting tanks," and "removing roadblocks" are all criminal interference with another democratic allied country's anti-terror security procedures and, according to the first webpage, the Middle East Children's Alliance is the fiscal sponsor of these activities. Homes threatened with demolition are homes that were used as bomb-making factories or to house terrorist cells.
The ISM national website originally encouraged lying to Israeli Border Police but was recently revamped after being exposed by Stop the ISM. The changed information from one portion of their website was taken down during the revamping but it is still available for viewing here:
There are three ways to come to Palestine -- via the Ben Gurion airport - Tel Aviv, via Amman, Jordan or via Egypt. Many people are afraid to come via Tel Aviv because Palestinian sympathizers are being denied entry into the country. We believe that it's less suspicious if you come through Israel but you have to have a really good story about why you are coming, and must not mention anything about ISM or knowing, liking or planning to visit Palestinians. You must play it as though your visit is for other, Israel-based reasons, like tourism, religion, visiting an Israeli friend, etc. So do a little bit of research and put together a story that you'll be able to answer questions about. For example, if you say you are visiting a friend in Jerusalem, you should have the name and phone number of a real Israeli person. If you are coming for religious purposes, have a book or two on religion and travel in Israel; have an itinerary, etc. (Emphasis added.)
Furthermore, the ISM website continues to turn a blind eye to members’ deception:
Visitors coming in solidarity with the Palestinian people and/or to support Palestinian non-violent resistance therefore face a difficult situation. If they admit the goals of their visit to Israeli border staff, and admit any association with ISM, they will most likely be denied entry. If they state other reasons for their visit, they can also be accused of lying to Israeli authorities and denied entry for this reason.
Faced with this dilemma, some activists choose not to talk about their activist goals and instead explain other reasons for their visit, such as visiting the Holy Land, visiting an Israeli friend, tourism, etc. These activists generally articulate a clear plan for their visit, including places they will stay within Israel and the names, addresses and phone numbers of people they will be visiting (not mentioning visits to Palestinians).
Carrying ISM material with you will most likely cause the authorities to refuse you entry. It is likely that your luggage will be searched when you arrive at the airport or border.
Related to this, David Bedein, a news correspondent at Israel Behind the News, reports that the ISM commits espionage in Israel and provides safe houses to terrorists:
Last month, Israeli security forces raided ISM offices in Beit Sahour, and the foreign affairs ministry issued a statement that said: ISM members take an active part in illegal and violent actions against Israel Defense Force [IDF] soldiers. At times, their activity in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations. Bedein, who has interviewed several ISM activists in the region, said the group's North American operations ought to be investigated by local law enforcement, since ISM spokespeople openly call for the overthrow of Israel, a country with which Canada and the United States have friendly relations. "Group members have also reported Israeli troop movements to armed Palestinian units," Bedein said, and they intervene at checkpoints to facilitate the transit of Palestinians who may be terrorists.
Below is the information that MECA reported to the IRS on its Form 990 for July 1, 2002 through June 30, 2003 (the most recent available from Guidestar.org). While the group may indeed be delivering food, medicine, toys, and books to the children of the Middle East (their stated purpose), it has conspicuously neglected to tell the IRS about its more legally dubious activities.
Here is what they reported on their Form 990:
In addition, MECA lied on its tax return in answering the question (exposed above) "During the year, has the organization attempted to influence national, state or local legislation, including any attempt to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum?" MECA answered "no." In fact, however, it does precisely this by actively supporting divestment from Israel, a campaign that, if done in cooperation with a foreign government, may be contrary to federal law. Additionally, in 2004, MECA was a signatory to a letter opposing Senate Resolution 408. The letter, sent to members of the U.S. Senate, exhorting them to vote "No" on Resolution 408. That Resolution took the position that the anti-terrorist security fence that Israel was building in the West Bank was legal and justified.
Here is what MECA actually does:
- Calls for antiwar activism and condemns U.S. foreign policy:
o Support Cindy Sheehan
o "Bring the troops home now, stop the war in Iraq"
o "Support the Palestinian people's right of return"
o "Military recruiters out of our schools"
o "U.S. out of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Afghanistan"
- Promotes an academic boycott of Israel.
- Is a coalition member of ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice.
- Describes the U.S. "occupation" of Iraq as "illegal" and genocidal:
o It also accuses the U.S. of "purposefully" targeting civilian areas
o "The Human Cost of War in Iraq" also makes this accusation: "In March 2003, the US, backed by the UK and Spain, launched an illegal 'pre-emptive' attack on Iraq. Since then the US and UK have illegally occupied the nation…."
- Hosts a photo gallery of partisan anti-U.S. and anti-Israel protests. One photo thanks Rep. Barbara Lee, D-CA, by name.
Significantly, MECA boasts a "political education coordinator" named Uda Walker—an odd title for a charity supposedly does nothing more than raise funds to help children. After all, why does an organization whose mission is "to distribute food, toys clothing, and medicine to children in the Middle East," and which reports to the IRS that it "does not attempt to influence legislation or public opinion on legislative matters" need a political education coordinator? Uda Walker is paid by MECA to stage presentations against Israel and U.S. soldiers in Iraq and has even toured high school campuses with the "Voices in the Wilderness" Tour during school hours. The program is composed of anti-Israel and pro-Ba’ath Party activists, some of whom have done time for their "peaceful" activities. Walker has even taken her political propaganda campaign abroad to the UK. Meanwhile, Barabra Lubin, MECA executive director, has also appeared at numerous rallies showing support for Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the sole vote against the U.S. going to war against al-Qaeda after 9/11.
Clearly, then, the Middle East Children’s Alliance spends the majority of its time on political propagandizing, while being exempted from the normal tax burden associated with a political organization.
MECA also supports the Ibaada Center in the West Bank. On the surface, the Ibaada Center might seem to be a place for Palestinian children to derive some education and culture. It is, according to The Jerusalem Post, a place of incitement against Israel’s existence and an indoctrination center for Arab children to support terrorism. The walls are festooned with scenes of terrorist "resistance," and its pupils are taught they will one day conquer Israel by violence.
If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with supporting children in the Middle East, and why MECA lays claim to tax-exempt status when it does not even provide support for all Middle East children (services or support for Israeli children maimed in suicide bombing attacks are not included), you are not alone. A part of the "Palestinian-led" MECA is the fundraising and propaganda arm of the PLO, albeit run locally by American radicals and anarchists. Furthermore, MECA’s own website clearly states:
The ISM is not an organization, but rather a movement which all organizations, groups and/or individuals who agree with our principles can join. The ISM is based in Palestine and is led by Palestinians on the ground. Many ISM support groups around the world assist the ISM by disseminating information, recruiting and training individuals to join us. (Emphasis added.)
MECA operates under the auspices and lobbying control of the Palestinian Authority, an activity which by federal law demands that it be registered as an agent for a foreign power by the U.S. Justice Department. This is something that has not been done. The group has also seems to have lied on it tax returns about engaging in political activities, which should result in the IRS at minimum pulling its nonprofit status. Its money is fungible -- and once it gets to the Palestine Authority or Iraq -- there’s no way to know how much of it makes its way to terrorist groups. Barbara Lubin once spent time in the company of the terrorist group Hezbollah, the same group that killed 241 U.S. military personnel in 1983 in a terrorist attack. She considers them "normal shleps." It hardly strains credulity to suppose that her group sympathizes with Hezbollah’s aims. Consider, too, that MECA’s offices in Berkeley eagerly display Palestinian propaganda that attacks Israel: From the MECA website:
But MECA’s solidarity with terror goes beyond mere agitprop. MECA has promoted a clinic in Gaza, the Union of Health Work Committees, whose previous manager was a member of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group listed with the U.S. State Department. (This despite the fact that the U.S. State department last year required that non-governmental charities in the Palestinian Authority sign agreements that any USAID funding they receive specifically not be channeled to aid terrorists or terrorism.) The clinic is now run by Mona al-Farra. The MECA website openly sought donations for Dr. Mona al-Farra’s clinic, specifically naming her even after Mona al-Farra refused to sign the State Department’s agreement. Her reason? She claimed that all her patients are terrorists.
MECA may provide money for some noble services to Palestinian children, but it also funds incitement and helps to roil the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Everytime MECA receives donations from supporters, the American taxpayer makes up the loss of income tax revenue. American taxpayers already subsidize the Palestinian Authority with billions of dollars in foreign aid, much of which has already been pilfered by a corrupt Palestinian leadership. It is in their interest, then, that the Middle East Children’s Alliance North American operations should come under close IRS scrutiny.
Group #2: AL AWDA-The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Another nonprofit in ISM’s U.S.-based octopus is Al Awda, also known as the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC). Al Awda is Arabic for "the return." Al Awda is headed by Mazen Qumsiyeh, a geneticist from Yale who was denied tenure there after he used the university’s e-mail system to send anti-Semitic messages on campus. Qumsiyeh claims to be against all nationalism but Jewish nationalism especially: He has declared Jews who defend their right to a Jewish homeland "a disease." Despite his claim of not being an Arab nationalist, Qumsiyeh also stated at Duke University that Jews who had homes in Israel "must all leave." Al Awda is extremely active in the U.S. and well-financed. Its funds, in turn, are funneled to smaller ISM groups, who take advantage of Al Awda’s non-profit status.
As is the case with MECA, a review of Al Awda’s tax returns reveals a questionable legal status vis-a-vis U.S. tax laws. Just like MECA, Al Awda declared "no" when asked whether Al Awda has attempted to "influence national state or local legislation, including any attempt to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum?" Reproduced below is its tax form 990, Schedule A Part 3, Line 1 for the year 2004:
A visit to the Al Awda’s website clearly shows its answer to be dubious. There are multiple entries showing that Al Awda has openly attempted to influence legislation in the United States. For example, Al Awda has exhorted supporters to condemn legislation by the U.S. Senate that rejected the UN International Court of Justice’s condemnation of Israel’s Security Fence. This has been done consistently on their website, in multiple languages—which does not seem compatible with their obligation as a non-profit to desist from lobbying for or against legislation. A list of all their actions to influence legislation for 2004 can be found here. They include "urgent action" calls against Senate Foreign appropriations bill FYO5, House of Representative Resolution 713, Senate Resolution 408, House of Representatives Resolution 713 are just some of the legislation against which Al Awda’s website has lobbied:
AL-AWDA ALERT - URGENT - CALL NOW!
A resolution criticizing the International Court of Justice advisory opinion, which determined Israel's Apartheid Wall violates International Law and should be dismantled, is expected to be brought to the House floor today, Wednesday July 14, 2004. The resolution also expresses support for Israel's 'right' to continue building the Wall. In addition, the house will be voting, possibly tomorrow, on FY05 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.
Please contact your Representative's office as soon as possible. The Capitol switch board is toll free at 877-331-2000.
...Urge your representative to OPPOSE any resolution supporting Israel's Apartheid Wall. The Apartheid Wall violates International Law and should be dismantled as has been determined by the International Court of Justice advisory opinion at the Hague.
Urge your representative to VOTE AGAINST the FY05 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill and specifically to cut all aid to Israel. Involving the American people in funding Israeli abuses of international law and human rights is unacceptable. It is also contrary to the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act.
Please call House members NOW and urge them to OPPOSE any resolution supporting Israel's Apartheid Wall and to VOTE AGAINST the FY05 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.
House members can be reached through the Capitol switchboard toll free at 877-331-2000. (Emphases in original.)
Al Awda also lists its tax-free donations (in cash, no less) as going to the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA). Most Americans are unaware of the fact that UNWRA camps are run by employees from Hamas, a designated terrorist group per the U.S. State Department and are hotbeds of terrorist training and incitement. Given the fungible nature of funding sent to UNRWA, there is no way to be certain Hamas does not get funds collected by Al Awda to carry out its terrorist attacks:
Of even greater interest to U.S. taxpayers and the IRS should be the fact that the Voices in the Wilderness Bus Tour that travels the United States—and campaigns in high schools during school hours by claiming to be a "peace group"—collects donations funneled through MECA and Al-Awda. Voices indoctrinates high school kids against the United States and sent human shields to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The links between Voices and Al-Awda are disclosed on a webpage announcing the Tour’s arrival in Oregon:
"The tour is coordinated by Voices in the Wilderness, Middle East Children's Alliance, Al-Awda, the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, and Affiliates of the International Solidarity Movement, and has its own website: http://www.justicewheels.org."
Voices is also listed as tax-exempt. However, the listing was for its "radio broadcast ministry," which seems to have gone out of business in 2000. But its bus tour is flourishing, as is made evident on another leftist website:
"Members of Voices in the Wilderness, Al-Awda, the International Solidarity Movement, and Middle East Children's Alliance take to the road in a colorfully decorated full-size school bus for the Wheels of Justice Tour. Starting in mid-August 2003, this tour will canvass the western United Sates to challenge and educate North Americans on the occupation of Palestine and Iraq."
Note that three of these organizations are tax-exempt.
While soliciting money funneled through MECA and Al-Awda as a part of the ISM, Voices in the Wilderness conducts political campaigns for political candidates, such as David Cobb, Green Party Presidential Candidate. Voices is also regularly featured in the Green Party newsletter, and lists on its website as "selected activities" for its members and participants "lobby training." While Voices in the Wilderness collects tax-free donations through Al Awda and MECA, courtesy of our IRS, it advocates "war tax resistance" and openly supports Iraqi terrorists killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq, dubbing them as the "resistance." Voices sometimes even uses churches as non-profits to collect donations. In 2004, Voices acknowledged on their website that they are partners with Al Awda.
Voices’ transparently political activities certainly merit the attention of the IRS. A provision of the U.S. tax law already adjudicated in the courts states, "Reg. 1.501 (c) 3-1 (c ) 1 states that an organization will not be regarded as operated ‘exclusively’ for IRC 501 (c ) 3 purposes if more than an insubstantial part of its activities is not in furtherance of the exempt purpose. The presence of a single non-charitable purpose, if substantial in nature, will destroy the exemption regardless of the number or importance of truly charitable purposes. Better Business Bureau vs. United States, 326 U.S. 279 (1945)." Furthermore, the law can revoke tax-exempt status in cases of civil disobedience, which it also calls "direct action" (also termed "direct action" by ISM groups in their training manuals and on their websites.) (A complete copy of the IRS legal rulings on these matters can be accessed here.)
Not a few of the activities engaged in by ISM non-profits may disqualify them from non-profit status. These include boycotts of Israeli goods; entering of an allied country illegally to interfere with anti-terror operations; supporting Iraqi resistance in time of war; and participating in "direct action."
So how have the ISM and its affiliate groups managed to maintain their tax-exempt status? The courts have determined certain variances to the law for environmental groups operating as non-profits in the United States. This explains why the National Palestine Solidarity Conferences that were held at Ohio State University and Duke University were billed as seminars on how to tie the environmental movement to the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the United States.
Group #3: Holy Land Trust and Middle East Fellowship
A review of the Holy Land Trust’s (HLT) tax returns going back to the year 2000 reveals HLT distributed grants to entities that likely have links with pro-terror organizations operating with impunity in their countries. For example, in year 2001, a grant was given to the Holy Land Trust in Syria, where it is an established fact that terror groups operate openly with the cooperation of the Syrian government. HLT also gave a grant to HLT in Jordan for $334, 471 (U.S.). Arab Palestinian jihadists in Jordan cooperate with Palestinian Authority entities in Bethlehem. HLT in the year 2000 gave $301,437 to HLT in Bethlehem. According to one of Stop the ISM’s forensic accountants, a pattern emerges in the HLT’s tax returns: Groups overlap to such a degree that their names are virtually indistinguishable, an intentional tactic that causes confusion for anyone trying to conduct an investigation of their finances.
Another issue that one of our forensic accountants pointed is that the "descriptions of activities" as described on Page 2, Part III, Statement of Program Service Accomplishments are left particularly vague.
For the year 2000 on Page 2, Line 26-Other Salaries and Wages-HLT lists $1,167,377 (U.S.). Such a figure going to "salaries" is abnormally high and does not follow the patterns of most non-profits. Other red flags exist as well.
Page 2, Line 32-Legal expenses-lists expenses as $77,808 (U.S.)–also high for a non-profit entity.
Page 2, Lines 39 and 43C list abnormally high travel and meal expenses: $90,141:
As in previous returns submitted to the IRS by HLT, there is no disclosure between "related parties." Stop the ISM’s accountants have discovered that this "Non-Taxpayer," Holy Land Trust (which conveniently operates out of Bethlehem under the supervision of the Palestinian Authority, renowned for fiscal corruption and money laundering) is also using the same Tax ID number as another organization, the Middle East Fellowship, which operates out of California. It is unheard of that a tax filer uses a tax ID number that does not belong to the organization itself. The IRS needs to ask: Why isn’t the Middle East Fellowship listed on the Holy Land Trust tax filings?
Perhaps even more important, in HLT’s yearly 2000 Schedule A, Part IV=A, LINE 26b, a donation of $1,839,100 (U.S.) is listed. That is an unusually large donation whose origin need to be traced by the IRS. No doubt the IRS will have to dig deep to get at the original source for the donation.
Stop the ISM’s accountants found what look like other discrepancies and deficiencies. For instance, HLT’s 2001 tax return left out a complete list of corporate officers, a very sloppy return at best. Also, in the year 2001, Page 2, Part 11-Line 26-Salaries-sends up a red flag listing salaries as being $406,790. That is, again, a figure high for a non-profit. Laundering funds -- as the Palestinian Authority and PLO have done in the past -- is often done through "salaries." And, once again, the closely related party connection with the Middle East Fellowship is not divulged.
For the year 2002 in Page 2, Part 11-Line 26-Salaries listed as being $125,521 are also inordinately high in comparison to the monies received. In the same year, Page 2, Line 22-Grant and Allocations-a figure of $298,233 is given. Suspiciously, there is no supporting schedule in their tax return as to where monies went. Tax returns from previous years showed this, even though questions abound as to what kind of organizations received these "grants." On Page 6, Line 52a-regarding a related party question, HLT did not even bother to answer the question.
HLT’s tax return for 2003 follows a similar pattern, but does answer the question about related parties in the negative. Only that time, they did not submit supporting schedules as to where grants in the amount of $312,473 were disbursed.
There is a nexus between the Holy Land Trust and Middle East Foundation. That nexus runs from the Middle East Fellowship’s Tax ID number #95-3910004.
According to the IRS guidelines for non-profits under the IRS section code 501 (c) 3, there are many disclosures that need to be made to the taxing authorities. One of these disclosures involves "related parties" as mentioned above. The IRS Form 990, a form required of all non-profits by the U.S. government, asks an explicit question of the filer: "Is the organization directly or indirectly affiliated with, or related to, one or more tax exempt organizations described in section 501(c) of the code (other than section 501 (c)3 or in section 527)?"
Two issues thus arise from this question in relation to the Holy Land Trust. First, as mentioned, they do not even have their own tax ID number, which is virtually unheard of in tax accounting. It means they are operating under the same layered approach the ISM uses. The second issue is they are filing under another entity called the Middle East Fellowship. Even on the most basic level, the Holy Land Trust did not disclose that it has a much closer ties to another entity other than an "affiliated party" would. This entity, the Holy Land Trust, is in fact operating as the Middle East Fellowship by using its taxpayer ID number.
Many times the IRS would be unaware of this deviation because of the volume of returns submitted each year. In addition, if questioned, the Middle East Fellowship will no doubt state that their printed materials (as seen on the web) do state that the Middle East Fellowship is "proud to serve as HLT’s U.S. Support office," a distinction without a difference.
This layering of the Holy Land Trust under the tax return filing of the Middle East Fellowship is a convenient distraction. The Middle East Fellowship has a roster of left-wing academics and theologians who are "sympathetic" to the goals of the PLO. It is possible the HOly Land Trust is using precisely the same technique on behalf of Palestinian terrorists that was used by the Holy Land Foundation before the U.S. government turned them down for funding al-Qaeda.
George Rishmawi, one of the founding members of the ISM and a Palestinian communist who supports the PFLP terrorist group, has set up a study abroad program through the Holy Land Trust so ISM activists can get college credit and educational stipends to go to the West Bank and interfere with Israeli soldiers conducting anti-terror operations. Students who join the program ostensibly will study Arabic with classes provided by Bethlehem bible College in the West Bank. But students only study Arabic in class one day per week. The rest of the week is devoted to ISM activities.
The ISM has been actively helping to organize riots every Friday in the West Bank village of Bi’lin. (The ISM anarchists and radicals call these riots "non-violent resistance" as they incite the Arabs in the village mosque to attack the Israel’s security barrier. Such "non-violent resistance" already has killed one Israeli soldier and cost another his eye.)
The following was included in an e-mail broadcast by Greta Berlin, an ISM activist from California who is a major organizer of the riots in Bi’lin:
By 3 pm, over 150 Israelis had made it through the checkpoints, and had joined the demonstration in front of the mosque. Twenty members of the Holy Land Trust had also come from Beit Sahour, and dignitaries from several organizations managed to come and be heard. Many of them spent a great deal of time yelling at the soldiers, demanding to know why they were preventing non-violent resistance in the village.
The euphemism of "non-violent resistance" aside, this typifies the activities of the Holy Land Trust that would operate as a non-profit in the United States under the Middle East Fellowship by claiming to be an educational enterprise. HLT is using U.S. tax exempt status as an educational foundation to help pay for riots and attacks on Israeli soldiers.
A further look at their tax returns shows that the university associations that Holy Land Trust and Middle East Fellowship have created, with interlocking Boards of Directors, should be a red flag for the IRS and federal law enforcement authorities.
Of particular interest is the fact that while the returns list no "related parties," event though there is indeed a related party—Phil Elkins, who signed the tax return for the year 2000. Stop the ISM’s forensic accountants noted that Elkins is the Director of the Middle East Fellowship whose tax ID number the Holy Land Trust has illegally used on their tax form and he is also listed as HLT’s Secretary, making him a related party. What’s the significance? Elkins was the only Board member of the Holy Land Trust who drew any money -- $46,000 for only 40 hours work for a charitable institution. How many people make $46,000 for only 40 hours work a year? This oddity should be enough for the IRS to make the HLT open its books.
The HLT on its website mentions it funnels its money through the Middle East Fellowship:
"All donations to Holy Land Trust can be made through our partner in the United States, Middle East Fellowship. Middle East Fellowship is a 501.c.3 non-profit organization and all contributions given through them are tax deductible."
No doubt these two entities can vouch for some of their programs’ monies. However, a large percentage of the monies raised that went to pay "salaries" for HLT can be easily converted into personal funding. Such questionable handling of money has resulted in at least one other government prosecution of similar fundraising schemes for terrorism, specifically for an executive in charge who was embezzling funds at the same time he was funding al-Qaeda.
Since most people will not bother to look into the discrepancies between the Holy Land Trust and The Middle East Fellowship, no doubt both thought they weren’t taking much of a risk. Moreover, were they to face scrutiny, they could simply point to their high profile supporters, running from religious leaders and college professors on their Board of Directors, to the distinguished list of religious leaders and academics who support the Palestinian movement. That Board of Directors and the tax returns filed on behalf of Holy Land Trust by Middle East Fellowship also provide enough evidence to support the supposition that left-wing academics and theologians are working in tandem with Islamic radicals, something FrontPage Magazine has certainly provided enough evidence of over the last few years and that its publisher, David Horowitz, has written about in his book, Unholy Alliance.
HLT is registered by the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior, registration BL-408-C, which may require its registration in the U.S. as a foreign agent of another government. HLT also sponsored and financed an "A. J. Muste Memorial Institute-Sponsored Non-violence Training" conference that HLT’s own website says attracted "Hamas, PFLP, and Fatah Affiliates at the American Arab University in Jenin, Palestine." While "Non-violence training" sounds nice, it can also be used to deceive by an organization that openly rubs elbows with known terrorist groups as part of the ISM.
Group #4: The Electronic Intifada
The Electronic Intifada (EI) is an ISM website founded by ISM activists. It, too, is a non-profit that has done a questionable job of fulfilling ts requirements as a non-profit entity in its tax returns on more than one occasion, especially regarding efforts to influence legislation. When its proprietors learned that their tax returns were under review by StoptheISM, they immediately took down such proof from their website. However, the proof can still be viewed thanks to the Wayback Machine.
Electronic Intifada sought to influence its members and readers of its website to oppose House of Representatives Resolution 111, as the following message from the website makes plain:
Proposed House of Representatives bill HR 111 calls for the US to
launch a full investigation. Just 43 out of 435 US Congressional
Representatives have sponsored the bill, less than 10 percent."
"Ask your Representative to co-sponsor HR 111 and ask why simply
investigating the killing of an American citizen is not a priority for a
shocking 90 percent of the US House of Representatives.
The Rachel Corrie Resolution (House Concurrent Resolution 111) now has
42 co-sponsors. But the resolution will continue to languish in the
House International Relations Committee without a continuing groundswell
of grassroots support."
The Web page is dated July 2003. The Form 990 for 2003 submitted by EI says that its
parent organization made "no" efforts to influence legislation or public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum.
The legislative resolution in question concerns Rachel Corrie, whom the ISM has been trying to portray as a murdered peace activist. In reality, Corrie worked to help Palestinian terrorists in Rafah by interfering with IDF actions to demolish weapons-smuggling tunnels. A supporter of the Iraqi "resistance" who praised terrorists and suicide bombers as martyrs, Corrie also wrote letters home to her parents, who are now touring the U.S. and raising money through another ISM front group, the Rebuilding Homes Alliance. The group relies on another communist-led nonprofit, Global Exchange in San Francisco (headed by radical activist Medea Benjamin), to make the donations "tax free."
In addition, one must ask why the organization wrote only "EI" instead of spelling out "Electronic Intifada" in its tax return. Was this perhaps done to hide from the IRS the word "Intifada" with all its relations to terrorism?
George Rishmawi, who operates under the radar of authorities by using America’s liberal laws of freedom of speech, may receive support from the Palestinian Authority. But for those who are not Arab nationals like Rishmawi, creating a non-profit offers them not only an opportunity to work toward their goal of dismantling Israel and supporting the Iraqi resistance, but also a way to get well paid for it. As such, other abuses can exist: for example, the trial of former University of South Florida Professor Sami al-Arian, the U.S. head of Islamic Jihad revealed that collected "charity" went elsewhere. Al-Arian ran successful non-profits like those outlined above.
Testimony in al Arian’s trial revealed that FBI agent Michael Wysocki, a certified public accountant, took lists of needy children whom the Muslim Woman Society, a similar type of front group, used by al-Arian’s non-profits during the early 1990s, then tried to find bank records to prove that payments actually were sent abroad to help such children. The vast majority of payments did not match up.
The Muslim Woman Society was part of the Islamic Concern Project (yet another front group), a charity also created by al-Arian. Prosecutors say al-Arian used the charity, also known as the Islamic Committee for Palestine, as a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. But members of his executive staff also used funds for their personal aggrandizement. In addition, the operations became a way for funding to be sent from pro-terrorist organizations in the Middle East to the United States to advance terrorist goals—all tax-free. Al Arian was even seen lobbying for Palestinian goals and shaking hands with President Bush, demonstrating the frightening extent to which government was in the dark about his involvement in terror. As Michael Wysocki wrote in an article in the Tampa Bay Tribune:
More than $1.5 million flowed into the Tampa accounts between 1990 and 1992 through wire transfers from the Middle East. Nearly $900,000 of that came in during 1992 alone. Some of it went to salaries for Islamic Jihad members working with al-Arian in the United States, prosecutors say.
Relatedly, the Syracuse Post-Standard has reported on another "charity for children," Help the Needy, run by Dr. Rafil Dhaifir, who was found guilty for collecting more than $1.5 million (U.S.) for children in Iraq; only a tenth of that amount made it to Iraqi children. The bulk of the funds went to a bank in Amman, Jordan, where it disappeared. The U.S. government is now trying to piece together whether it went to terrorists. In addition, Dhafir was found to have $154,000 in cash in a safe deposit box and owned nine properties in Onondaga County, New York—none of which he listed with his name or revealed to the court. Although Help the Needy worked with non-profits that are sympathetic to al-Qaeda and the Palestinian Authority, Dhafir sought non-profit status—no doubt to make it even more lucrative and to lessen the need to work through other non-profits.
It should be apparent that, in these cases, non-profits served as a great tool for raising tax-free money for radical and jihadist causes. The very reason why donations are supposed to be tax-free is to encourage giving for noble reasons. Instead, it is leading to an alarming growth of front groups in the U.S. possibly supporting terrorists and America’s enemies during a prolonged war. Such groups present themselves as charities for children, or as educational or human rights institutions. They also provide stipends for radical activists. And why wouldn’t they? The IRS and Homeland Security appear to be totally oblivious to their questionable compliance with tax law.
If you want the IRS and Department of Homeland Security to finally take some action on these issues, e-mail this article to them and demand action be taken to open the books of MECA, Al Awda, Holy Land Trust, Electronic Intifada, and their related affiliates. You may write the IRS at:
IRS- EO Classification
1100 Commerce Street
Dallas TX 75242-1198
Attn: Criminal investigations
Also you can call the IRS toll free at 1-800-829-0433
For Homeland Security write or send this article to the Joint Terrorism Task Force at https://tips.fbi.gov or your local FBI office: http://www.fbi.gov/contact/fo/fo.htm.
If you would like to volunteer to help Stop the ISM, please e-mail us at: stoptheISM@att.net.
Stop the ISM team members William Levinson and Adina Kutnicki also contributed to this report.
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