Recently the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) produced a video complaining about how Muslim charitable groups have been negatively affected by the Bush administration’s crackdown on terrorist charities. The ACLU chose leaders and patrons of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) to make its point.
It was a poor choice, as ICNA itself has been tied to terrorist financing.
The latest ACLU video has found its way onto the homepage of ICNA. It begins with then-President George W. Bush speaking at a 2001 press conference concerning the “financial aspects of terrorism.” He is shown stating the following: “Al-Qaeda has international supporters. And some of those supporters hide themselves in the disguise of charity.”
The press conference took place shortly after the government shut down and froze the bank accounts of the three largest Muslim charities in the United States: the al-Qaeda-linked Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) and Global Relief Foundation (GRF), and the Hamas-linked Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HRF).
In November 2008, HRF, along with five of its top leaders, was found guilty of funneling more than twelve million dollars to Hamas.
Given what the government knew about these groups, one would think that their closures could only be seen as a good and important, if not an entirely necessary, action to take. However, ICNA, backed by the ACLU, does not view this as a positive achievement. To the contrary, it sees it as an exploitation of Muslims under a false banner of “War on Terror,” which it claims has caused members of the Islamic community to stop giving to charity.
On the video, former national president (ameer) of ICNA, Khurshid Khan, complains: “It has very badly affected the donations, because people now shy away, because they are scared.”
Another ICNA representative, Muhammad Tariq Rahman, says on the video: “You want to make a political statement. You close down a couple of Muslim charities. You create a fear factor. You create hype in the community, saying that, ‘Oh look, Muslims are giving overseas, and they’re doing this and that,’ which is not true.”
But it is true — at least in part of the community — and one has only to look at ICNA itself to see that that is the case.
In August 2006, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), otherwise known as the Muslim Brotherhood of Pakistan, announced on its website that its charity, the Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF), had traveled to Damascus to the home of the global head of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal. They sent well wishes from the president of JI and presented Mashaal with six million rupees — the equivalent of 99 thousand U.S. dollars. Accompanying the group was a Dr. Hafiz Ur Rehman. Mashaal thanked the group for the money and proceeded to declare that Hamas was going to continue to wage “jihad” (terrorist acts) against “the Zionist yoke” (Israel).
At the time of the Hamas transaction, ICNA was listed on AKF’s website as the top two donors to AKF — “ICNA Relief USA” and “ICNA Relief Canada,” the titles of ICNA’s two North American charities.
Of course, this was no small mistake on ICNA’s part, as ICNA is the American affiliate of JI.