PHILADELPHIA – July 30, 2018 – The Middle East Forum (MEF) has decisively responded to a letter sent by Islamic Relief USA to members of Congress denying allegations made in a recent MEF report – and subsequently cited in testimony before the House Oversight Committee's National Security Subcommittee – that outline the charitable franchise's links to extremism and terror.
Founded in 1984 in Birmingham, England, Islamic Relief, with branches in over 20 countries, is the largest Islamic charity in the West. It has received at least $80 million over the past ten years from Western governments and international bodies, including the United Nations. It received more than $700,000 from U.S. taxpayers during the past two years. Its officials are members of government advisory panels, while Western cabinet ministers, European royalty, and Trump administration officials speak at its events.
Islamic Relief has, however, been banned in both Israel and the United Arab Emirates because of its links to terror. MEF's June 2018 report, Islamic Relief: Charity, Extremism and Terror, confirms its ties to extremism in the West and to terrorism-linked groups in the Middle East.
In a letter dated July 19, 2018, Sharif Aly, Chief Executive Officer of Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA), informed legislators that "any claims that Islamic Relief USA, Islamic Relief Worldwide, or their respective partners are affiliated with any terrorist or extremist entities are categorically and unequivocally false." Aly then offered a series of responses to particular allegations that he claimed "refutes the erroneous allegations recently made against [IR-USA]."
MEF has now published its own response, showing that every single one of IR-USA's denials is merely a sidestep or deception.
IR-USA, for example, states that the Islamic Zakat Society (IZS) in Gaza, a key partner of the Islamic Relief franchise, "is widely known for its apolitical stance, and its board members and senior staff have no known affiliation with Hamas."
This is simply untrue. MEF's response notes that IZS's own website describes itself as "soldiers for Jerusalem," and calls on Palestinians to "support the family of the martyr" and support the struggle for the "captive Jerusalem." In 2009, IZS organized a student event at which the keynote speaker was Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, who declared that students would "return our lands to us" … through "jihadist force." Top IZS official Hazem Al-Sirraj, meanwhile, is a prominent cleric in Gaza who studied under the Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. In 2010, Al-Sirraj was the keynote speaker at a Hamas conference in Gaza for the "sons of Hamas," including Hamas "founders, scientists, politicians and academics."
IR-USA's other denials are similarly unsupported or disingenuous. After the MEF report noted IR-USA's promotion of extremist clerics with long histories of inciting hate against other minorities, IR-USA stated: "Statements made in [the speakers'] personal capacities (over which the organization has no control) do not reflect the views or beliefs of Islamic Relief USA or its partners, who unequivocally condemn all forms of discrimination and intolerance."
And yet the same extremist clerics highlighted by the MEF report remain listed as keynote speakers at upcoming Islamic Relief events. In November 2018, for instance, IR-USA is due to hold a fundraising event with Salafi cleric Yasir Qadhi and anti-Semitic IR-USA official Yousef Abdallah. Yasir Qadhi has advocated killing homosexuals.
Much of the evidence presented against Islamic Relief in the MEF report is not addressed by IR-USA. Most notably, its response neglects to mention or dispute MEF's discovery that agents from the FBI, OPM and IRS have reportedly put together a criminal case against Islamic Relief.
Sam Westrop, Director of the Middle East Forum's Islamist Watch project, noted: "Islamic Relief is worried. Government bodies in the U.K, Germany, Sweden, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh have all started looking into this charitable franchise's promotion of Islamist hate. Now U.S. legislators are starting to do the same. It is vital that the government stops funding this hate group, and starts investigating its ties to terror and extremism."
MEF's June 2018 report on Islamic Relief details that:
- Islamic Relief branches work closely with violent Islamist organizations in the Middle East. In Gaza, it donates large sums to the Gaza Zakat Committee, an organization operating under Hamas control. In Yemen, it takes money from the Charitable Society for Social Welfare, founded by Al-Qaeda leader Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani
- Many Islamic Relief branches are run by officials from hardline Islamist networks.
- Islamic Relief is the principal financial institution of the Muslim Brotherhood.
- Egyptian prosecutors accused Islamic Relief co-founder Essam El-Haddad of "financing terrorism by using global charities such as Islamic Relief."
- Islamic Relief USA Chairman Khaled Lamada praised jihad by the Mujahidin of Egypt for "causing the Jews many defeats."
- Yousef Abdallah, a senior Islamic Relief official, has referred to Jews as "stinking" and has promoted stories glorifying the murder of Jews.
- Islamic Relief events have hosted such speakers as Abdullah Hakim Quick, who claims that the Islamic position on homosexuality is "death"; Haitham Al-Haddad, who describes Jews as "pigs and apes"; and Abdul Nasir Jangda, who defends sex slavery and advocates killing apostates.
Read IR-USA's letter here.
Read MEF's response here.
Read the original report here.
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