It's time to impose a moratorium on the allocation of public funds to non-profit organizations in the United States that support Hamas, the designated terror organization responsible for the Oct. 7 massacre that resulted in the murder of more than 1,400 Israelis. Not only is the organization an inveterate enemy of Jews, Israel, and the United States, but Hamas also currently holds at least nine American citizens hostage in the Gaza Strip.
Nevertheless, numerous Islamist charities in the United States have come forward to cheer Hamas' ongoing war crimes. In so doing, these non-profits have demonstrated their allegiance to enemies of the American people. Not another nickel or dime should be given to these organizations by any government entity — local, state, or federal — in the U.S. until their leaders are forced to explain and recant their support for Hamas' violent attack and for Islamism in general. Staffers of these organizations should also be forced to come clean on their connections to Hamas. Organizations with documented ties to Hamas and other terror organizations must be stripped of their tax-deductible status until they abandon this support and their Islamist ambitions. The integrity of the U.S. republic demands such actions. Our 501(c)(3) system was not established to serve as a conduit of funds for enemies of the American people and for the overthrow of Western democracies.
State Sponsors CAIR
Without meaning to, the membership list of United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a suspected proxy for Turkey, provides a roster of organizations that lawmakers in the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, and city councils can use to direct their investigations into public funding of Islamist organizations. The USCMO issued a statement on the same day of the massacre — before Israelis had even buried their dead — that portrayed Hamas' spree of murder, rape, and kidnapping as an act of "self-defense."
Astonishingly enough, many of the organizations that comprise the USCMO have received public funds, the most notable being the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR, which promoted the USCMO's statement on its own website, is a notorious Islamist organization that has been under FBI scrutiny for decades, with good reason. Its national director, Nihad Awad, was present at a 1993 meeting with Hamas members where Islamists decided to promote anti-Zionist propaganda to progressive audiences under the guise of liberationism. Awad, who co-founded CAIR with financial support from Hamas affiliates after this meeting, declared in 1994, "I am in support of the Hamas movement."
Late last year, Awad publicly mourned the passing of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a theorist of the Muslim Brotherhood and its spiritual leader, who infamously proclaimed Hitler was a divine tool for God's punishment of the Jews, expressing hope that Muslims would serve the same function in the future. Awad hailed al-Qaradawi as the "most influential contemporary Muslim scholar" and, in commemoration of his death, recited the Koranic blessing "We belong to God and to Him we shall return."
Zahra Billoo, CAIR's executive director in the San Francisco Bay Area, characterized U.S. Jewish organizations as enemies of American Muslims at an anti-Israel event in 2021. CAIR employees allegedly created a website where, between 2009 and 2018, anonymous harassers targeted those who criticized Muslim extremists. More recently, CAIR promoted a fabricated hate crime story propagated by Uthman Ibn Farooq, a shaykh who claimed, without substantiating evidence, that an "Islamophobe" stabbed him in San Diego. However, no record of such a crime exists with the police or the district attorney. In so doing, CAIR defamed an entire county in California as an unsafe place for Muslims to practice their faith.
Despite all this, the Department of Homeland Security still dispensed $70,000 to the CAIR Los Angeles chapter in 2016 and $75,000 to the CAIR chapter in Florida, where protesters chanted, "We are Hamas," at a CAIR-endorsed rally in 2014. Furthermore, the Small Business Administration has provided $3,000 in total to CAIR chapters in Connecticut and Texas. (Not much money, but legitimizing amounts anyhow.)
Remarkably, the San Diego County, where CAIR validated a fabricated hate crime supposedly occurring in early 2022, authorized a grant of $13,000 in January 2022 to the local chapter of the organization for its "annual recognition banquet." In 2022, the county also provided at least two additional grants of over $6,000 each to CAIR. Every nickel and dime of taxpayer money given to CAIR, is in light of its misdeeds, is an insult to U.S. citizens.
Stop All Funding
While CAIR is one of the most notorious recipients of public funds, there are other pro-Hamas organizations under USCMO's umbrella that receive taxpayer moneys. The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and its related charity, ICNA Relief — both members of UCMO's governing council — have received approximately $12 million from the U.S. government, most of it funneled through the Department of Homeland Security, which administers a program that promotes the safety of places of worship in the U.S.
Despite ICNA's collaboration with Jamaat-e-Islami, a South Asian Islamist group accountable for mass murders during Bangladesh's 1971 war for independence, ICNA and its charitable organization still received these funds. An additional charity associated with ICNA, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, which has coordinated conferences in South Asia with Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group behind the 2008 Mumbai hotel attack that resulted in 166 fatalities, has been granted $188,000 by USAID.
Another Islamist establishment that falls under the USCMO's umbrella and has been a recipient of federal funding is the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque located in Falls Church, Virginia. This institution, which has a history deeply intertwined with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, has received more than $800,000 from federal departments, including the DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services, since 2009.
One group that is not a part of USCMO's network, the U.K.-based Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), was given more than $1 million from USAID and the Centers for Disease Control between 2015 and 2021, despite its well-known antagonism towards Jews and Israel. In 2020, the U.S. State Department's Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism criticized the well-recorded instances of anti-Semitic sentiments and comments made by the top management of Islamic Relief Worldwide. According to the report:
Heshmat Khalifa, a trustee and director of [IRW], had posted on his Facebook page calling Jews the "grandchildren of monkeys and pigs." ... Khalifa had also praised Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist organization, calling it "the most genuine resistance movement in contemporary history."
Sam Westrop, director of the Middle East Forum's Islamist Watch campaign, has documented the distribution of at least $67 million worth of taxpayer funds allocated to Islamist organizations in the U.S. since 2007. In some instances, the grants are worth only a few thousand dollars, while others are more substantial. But by giving even a few thousand to a group, public officials are effectively anointing Islamist organizations — no matter how radical — as the legitimate representatives of American Muslims.
It is time to prohibit the disbursement of public funds — at all levels of government — to Islamist organizations until legislative investigations into their ties to Hamas and support for Islamism are conducted. The main beneficiary of this campaign will be U.S. Muslims who object to Hamas' butchery and want to live in peace with their neighbors, not under the suspicion knowingly generated by Islamist organizations through their support for Hamas. Moderate, reform-minded Muslims have been ill-served by Islamist non-profits who have been given unwarranted legitimacy by the receipt of taxpayers' funds handed to them by public officials who have been asleep at the switch for far too long.
Dexter Van Zile is managing editor of Focus on Western Islamism.