Earlier this year, we published a comprehensive dossier on the international charity Islamic Relief and its connections to terror and extremism. Our report - which was cited during testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's Subcommittee on National Security – has since led Members of Congress to investigate the government's relationship with Islamic Relief.
In response, Islamic Relief issued vehement denials. With facts on our side, it was easy to expose Islamic Relief's responses as obfuscations or falsehoods. Since then, Islamic Relief has continued to undermine its own claims by the company it keeps.
Writing on Facebook, Islamic Relief recently posted a picture and praise of an Islamic Relief "volunteer," Khalid Mirza. An Islamic Relief official wrote: "He has been volunteering with Islamic Relief since 1999. Witnessing his generosity and sincerity was so humbling for us. Without hesitation he is always ready to answer the call - whether supporting orphans, community initiatives, or outreach. Thank you Khalid Mirza, for your continued dedication!"
In fact, Khalid Mirza – or Khalid Mehmood Mirza, as he is better known – is not just a part-time volunteer. He is a full-blown activist for Islamic Relief. More interestingly, he is not just a charity worker; he is a prominent official of the violent South Asian Islamist movement Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and leader of its branch in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi.
JI is a dangerous theocratic movement active across much of South Asia, with a long history of violence. In 1971, JI killing squads assisted in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis fighting for freedom from Pakistani rule. Three million people reportedly died in the war. In the decades since the 1971 war, JI has committed violent acts all across South Asia. In Pakistan, JI leaders have expressed support for the Taliban, and JI's "militant wing" Hizbul Mujahideen has been designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.
Mirza does not sit at the wings of JI in Pakistan. A 2017 article in the Pakistan Observer reports that Siraj Ul Haq, national leader of JI in Pakistan, met with Mirza and his colleagues in Mirza's home city of Rawalpindi. While speaking with them, Haq expressed commitment to Pakistan's blasphemy laws that deem the much-persecuted peaceful Ahmadi Muslim sect as non-Muslim heretics, and promised that JI would "foil every such conspiracy" to afford Ahmadi Muslims equal rights. This is a common theme for JI: following the recent acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, JI protestors in Pakistan called for her killing.
Haq also reportedly "directed JI workers and leaders to intensify their mass contact campaign" to "convey to them the JI programme for an Islamic and prosperous Pakistan" A key element of JI's strategy in Pakistan is its charitable efforts. By providing social services and charitable initiatives, JI has long sought to build legitimacy and acquire popular and electoral support.
Thus, Mirza is not just involved with Islamic Relief, but also with two other prominent JI charities: Helping Hand for Relief and Development, an American JI international aid charity that operates mostly in Pakistan (where it works with designated terror groups); and Al Khidmat, JI's official charitable arm.
According to BBC journalist Subir Bhaumik, Al-Khidmat "aids militancy and helps to support the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Jamaat's armed wing and other groups." In 2006, JI openly announced that Al-Khidmat had sent 6 million rupees (approximately $100,000) to the designated Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas for their "just Jihad."
JI is a dangerous force in Pakistan, but it is also an unrepresentative force – having never achieved meaningful electoral success. That Western Islamist charities would choose a JI official as its representative in Pakistan, then, is revealing.