Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA)is the largest U.S. Muslim charity and is an affiliate of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), the largest international Islamic charity in the world. Based in Birmingham, England, IRW has a $240 million operating budget, nearly 300 employees, chapters in more than 12 countries and operations in over 30 countries. Islamic Relief says it “aims to provide rapid relief in the event of human and natural disasters and to establish sustainable local development projects allowing communities to better help themselves.”
The organization’s relief efforts in the USA and throughout the world have been linked to terrorism finance which has led some government to outlaw its activities.
IRW reportedly has a long history of working with Hamas-affiliated entities and then claiming ignorance afterward. RadialIslam.org documented IR-USA’s ties to Hamas in an expose about the organization’s CEO, an Islamist who became a USAID advisor to the Obama State Department. According to Clarion Project (a non-profit organization dedicated to exposing the dangers of Islamist extremism), Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) partners with a Hamas affiliate in Turkey named the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).
Israel, Germany and the Netherlands have branded IHH as a terrorist entity. The U.S. has not formally done so, but a bipartisan group of 87 members of Congress including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have requested its designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department.
One appears to have been arrested in Egypt in 2009 and another has even defended Hamas as “freedom fighters.”
In 2013, an Egyptian newspaper published a list of 30 alleged Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the U.S. that included five current or former senior IR-USA leaders.
In August of 2014, an IR-USA official was elected by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) to be its new president. ISNA is a Muslim civic group which was an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful trial against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) for financing Hamas.
Azeez’s election to such a high-profile position is somewhat surprising given the steady decline in IR-USA’s credibility and reputation over the last several years. IR-USA’s budget tumbled after the charity was revealed to have falsely inflated the value of its drug stockpiles, which represented a significant share of their total assets. IR-USA’s international affiliate—Islamic Relief Worldwide—has been banned by Israel and designated as a terrorist entity by the United Arab Emirates within the past several months. [Late 2014.]
HSBC Bank, headquartered in London, and one of the largest banking and financial services organizations in the world, ended its banking relationship with IRW back in January — reportedly over fears of terror funding.
None of this has led the Obama administration to rethink its embrace of the organization. In fact, they’ve just awarded $270,000 to the terror-linked group, according to the Washington Free Beacon:
The grant was awarded as part of a larger project to provide health services in Nairobi, Kenya, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the grant.
Some terrorism experts have expressed concern that the administration is providing funds to Islamic Relief given its past ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, ties that have led some governments to outlaw the charity.
An investigation by the Israeli government led to accusations that the charity was providing material support to Hamas and its operatives.
The United Arab Emirates and Israel both banned the charity in 2014 after investigations revealed that Islamic Relief had ties to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other entities engaged in terror financing, according to reports.
The charity “provides support and assistance to Hamas’s infrastructure,” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs determined in 2006. “The IRW’s activities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip are carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives.”
The charity further “appears to be a hub for donations from charities accused of links to al Qaeda and other terror groups,” according to an investigation conducted by the Gatestone Institute.
PJ Media’s Patrick Poole told the Beacon that USAID, a taxpayer-funded organization, has also donated to Islamic Relief.
“Time and again we see federal agencies and departments using taxpayer money to support the enemies of the United States and our allies,” Poole said. “USAID is a persistent culprit in this regard. In 2005 it took an act of Congress, led by the late Rep. Tom Lantos [D., Calif.], to stop USAID from funding Hamas institutions in Gaza. Now we see them doing the same thing, but only using a middleman.”
The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to WFB’s request for comment on the grant.