Silicon Valley may be wising up to the threat of Islamist terror, but it is simultaneously funding the ideology that spurs this violence – and won't stop doing so.
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) is the nation's largest community foundation, with assets of over $8 billion. Its corporate partners comprise a list of some of the nation's most recognizable companies. Its biggest donations include $1.5 billion from Mark Zuckerberg; $500 million from Nick Woodman, CEO of GoPro; and $556 million from Jan Koum, founder of WhatsApp.This staggering amount of money helps do virtuous work – from millions of dollars for college scholarships to helping end the Ebola crisis in West Africa. But some of SVCF's grants are problematic.
Two recipients of its largesse are the Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR) and Islamic Relief, both Islamist organizations with a long history of promoting anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny and anti-Western hatred. Extremist clerics given platforms by these organizations include Siraj Wahhaj, who advocates killing adulterers; Hussain Kamani, who justifies sex slavery; and Nouman Ali Khan, who calls for prostitutes and pornographic workers to be flogged.
Since 2008, the SVCF has made eight donations totaling $330,524 to these two groups. Consequently, five congressmen, led by Representative Gosar (R-AZ), have now written to SVCF, citing CAIR and Islamic Relief's extremist links, noting their designation as terrorist organizations in the United Arab Emirates, and concluding:
SVCF claims to be a 'champion of diversity and inclusion,' yet ignores Islamic Relief USA's and CAIR's long history of antisemitism, misogyny, and radicalism. It is inconceivable to us as elected representatives of the American people that SVCF and its donors continue to be associated with such remarks and actions. We urge SVCF to commit immediately to end all donations to these groups. We are confident that there are other organizations worthy of support which better reflect our shared values of religious liberty and tolerance.
Separately, 17 moderate Muslim leaders and activists have also written to SVCF, urging the foundation to stop their subsidy of Islamist organizations. The letter, published at stopsvcfhate.com, explains that such funding serves to help Islamists "demoralize Muslims who want to break away from the system of thought Islamism has set up. They make it systematically harder for Muslims to be part of the solution in carving a new Muslim identity that acculturates and challenges extremism from within."
The lead author of the letter, Shireen Qudosi, director of Muslim Matters, at America Matters, said: "By funding non-violent Islamists like CAIR and IR, community foundations may mean well but they are disempowering moderate Muslims and giving legitimacy and support to the extremists. CAIR and IR regularly give platforms to preachers whose rhetoric is extremely similar to that expressed by Musa Jibril, the imam who inspired at least one of the London attackers."
SVCF's own donors are as problematic as its grantees. In 2015, SVCF received$500,000 from the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), an organization also linked to Islamist extremism. In 2002, federal agents raided IIIT's offices amid concerns that it was funding Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. And according to testimony offered by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy to a Senate subcommittee, "Tarik Hamdi, an IIIT employee, personally provided bin Laden with the battery for the satellite phone prosecutors at the New York trial of the East Africa Embassy bombers described as 'the phone bin Laden and other will use to carry out their war against the United States.'"
The link between the lawful Islamism of groups such as CAIR and Islamic Relief, and the Islamist terrorism that murders innocents in American and European cities is well-understood. In 2011, the then-British Prime Minister David Cameron told the Munich security conference:
As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by what some have called 'non-violent extremists', and they then took those radical beliefs to the next level by embracing violence. ... Some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism. As others have observed, this is like turning to a right-wing fascist party to fight a violent white supremacist movement.
If Silicon Valley really wants to help Muslims, it will stop funding the networks that underpin Islamist terror. Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have recently promised to remove terrorist content from their websites. Censoring terrorist content on social media may look good on paper, but it will do little to tackle the totalitarian ideas that have taken over Muslim community organizations. Funding these ideas is utter madness.
Join our nation's elected representatives and moderate Muslim activists in persuading SVCF to stop subsidizing hate. Sign our petition, and tell the SVCF directly that they are making a terrible mistake.
Sam Westrop is director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum