The federal government handed almost $2 million to domestic radical Islamic organizations in 2022, Focus on Western Islamism has found.
Upon cross-referencing 10,000 names against data provided by the federal government's USASpending.gov API, FWI identified 60 federal grants to domestic Muslim organizations, totaling over $15 million. Almost $2 million of this funding was provided to organizations controlled by Islamists or involved in Islamist networks.
While these figures have concerned counter-extremism analysts and reformist Muslims, historical data compiled by FWI reveals that this is in fact the lowest level of funding provided to Islamist groups since 2014, and an abrupt contrast to the record high of over $16 million given to Islamist groups under President Trump in 2018.
Nonetheless, some of the 2022 recipients are markedly hardline organizations. Al-Furqaan Foundation, for instance, received two grants adding up to $247,000, arranged by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency, as part of its "Non-Profit Security Program."
Al-Furqaan was established in 2003 "to deliver the message of the Qur'an to every individual in America." It carries out this work through dozens of projects, including mosques, education services, bookstores, da'wah programs and even a K-12 school.
The organization has enjoyed millions of dollars of support from a prominent Qatari regime charity. Its staff have included radical clerics such as Omar Baloch, who propagates anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that Zionists were responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the Sri Lanka Easter bombings.
In September 2022, an undercover FWI investigation found that books sold by Al-Furqaan Foundation at a leading American Muslim convention included texts advocating jihad and peddling 9/11 conspiracy theories.
Under the same "non-profit security program," the Department of Homeland Security gave $148,000 to the Washington branch of the Rahmat-e-Alam Foundation, a prominent component of the hardline Deobandi sect. Rahmat-e-Alam runs a variety of projects in the United States, including bodies such as the Sharia Board of America.
In one fatwa request published at the Sharia Board, Rahmat-e-Alam clerics were told of Islamic schools at which students were beaten so brutally they were left with permanent damage, "ruptured eardrums" and "profuse bleeding." Asked if such beatings were permissible, the clerics responded: "it is permissible to beat them three times by hand." The Rahmat-e-Alam Foundation runs several prominent schools in the United States.
Also under the non-profit security program, $150,000 was provided to ICNA Relief, the domestic aid arm of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).
ICNA is the U.S. branch of Jamaat-e-Islami, a violent South Asian Islamist movement. ICNA's various projects, including ICNA Relief, are listed by Jamaat-e-Islami as donors to its welfare arm, Al-Khidmat Foundation, which is closely involved with the Kashmiri jihadist organization Hizbul Mujahideen. Al-Khidmat itself boasts of funding the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas for its "just jihad."
The federal government data also discloses that three grants of $150,000 were made to the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA), the chief U.S. outpost of Tanzeem-e-Islami, an offshoot of Jamaat-e-Islami founded by the late Islamist ideologue Israr Ahmed, who was a member of both Jamaat-e-Islami and the terror-tied Deobandi missionary organization Tablighi Jamaat. IONA clerics openly support the imposition of sharia law, and the destruction of liberal democracy.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services handed $250,000 to the Oklahoma branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the nation's best known Islamist organizations. As previously revealed by the Middle East Forum, the head of CAIR-Oklahoma, Adam Soltani, has expressed praise for convicted terrorists and violent criminals.
Other problematic grantees included a variety of mosques with extremist histories. The Virginia-based Dar ul-Hijrah, for instance, received $120,000. The mosque is best known for its former imam, Anwar Al-Awlaki, who became leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula before his death in a 2011 U.S. drone strike.
Other imams at the mosque have called for Muslims to be "ready for the jihad." The current imam, Shaker Elsayed, has expressed support for the terrorist group Hamas, and has defended female genital mutilation.
There are some notable groups missing from the list, despite having received many millions of dollars in previous years. Islamic Relief, one of the wealthiest Islamist charities in the world, seemed to receive no federal funding in 2022.
The radical charity's absence follows a 2020 statement published by the Department of State, which condemned the "blatant and horrifying anti-Semitism and glorification of violence" at the Islamic Relief's U.K. headquarters.
However, it seems possible that funding may still be a possibility. In recent months, USAID officials have visited Islamic Relief's offices in Pakistan (where Islamic Relief works closely with representatives of Islamist movements such as Jamaat-e-Islami). And the Department of Health and Human Services has reaffirmed that Islamic Relief remains a "partner."
In February 2023, the British government published an independent review of its counter-extremism program. The review found that taxpayer-funded organizations had "promoted extremist narratives, including statements that appear sympathetic to the Taliban."
To fight radicalization and terror, the inquiry concluded, the "government must cease to engage with or fund those aligned with extremism."
Sam Westrop is the director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.