Consortium Against Terrorist Finance May 4, 2016, 2:14pm

Islamic Charites in the U.S. are known for raising funds for the material and financial support of the Palestinian people. Up to and after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, however, U.S. law enforcement began investigating the extent to which these charities could be supporting not just the Palestinian people but also the Hamas terrorists who hid behind them. What followed was a series of trials, spanning over a decade, in which several Islamic Charities were charged with materially supporting terrorist activity. While the last of these establishments suspected of terror finance formally dispersed in 2012, a recent congressional testimony reminds us that many of their former employees are still working for Palestinian not-for-profit organizations.

Hamas-linked Terror Finance Rulings in the U.S.

In 2004, a U.S. Magistrate ruled that the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) were liable for the murder of American teenager David Boim because they provided financial support for Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. In May of 2009, a federal court in Dallas sentenced the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the largest Islamic charitable institution in the U.S., along with five of its leaders, on charges of providing material support to the terrorist organization Hamas. The now disbanded HLF was convicted on 10 counts of conspiracy to provide support to a designated terrorist organization, 11 counts of conspiracy to provide funds, goods, and services to a Specially Designated Terrorist, and 10 counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Among those sentenced to prison were three of the organization’s founders, Shukri Abu Baker, Mohammad El-Mezain, and Ghassan Elashi and two of its fundraisers, Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh. Under the guise of a charitable institution, the HLF provided nearly $12.4 million in support of Hamas with the intention of eliminating the state of Israel through violent jihad. And in 2012, another organization, KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development, disbanded after the Treasury Department froze its assets on suspicion being a HLF branch and of providing funding to Hamas.

Where Are They Now?

Over the past few years there has been relative silence regarding the potential ties between Islamic charities in the U.S. and terror finance. And names like “The Holy Land Foundation” and “KindHearts” seem to have faded from public discourse. A recent congressional testimony by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ Jonathan Schanzer, however, seeks to bring these now-defunct charities back into the limelight. While the title of Schanzer’s speech is “Israel Imperiled: Threats to the Jewish State,” the substance seems to forecast a danger closer to home. Where IAP, HLF, and KindHearts, have long been broken apart, numerous others have sprung up in their place. And, according to Schanzer, many of the people who once worked with IAP, HLF, and KindHearts, some who were even listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the HLF trial, are now working for a new non-profit organization called American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).

According to their website, AMP’s mission is to educate people about Palestine, “its rich cultural and historical heritage and about how the people of Palestine have been living under occupation for decades.” Their aim is to both put a face to the Palestinian name and to encourage the American people to end tax-dollar support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Schanzer’s testimony reveals that three individuals from HLF now work on behalf of AMP: Hossein Khatib, a board member for AMP, who was once the HLF regional director; Jamal Said, participant of AMP fundraisers, who also fundraised for HLF and was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial; and AMP board member Salah Sarsour who has familial ties to both Hamas and the HLF. In addition, Schanzer’s testimony reveals that the former president of IAP, Rafeeq Jaberfact, now prepares AMP taxes, and that IAP’s former Secretary General and KindHearts Representative Abdel Hamayel is now the Director of AMP, Chicago.

Greater Transparency Needed

While it may seem silly to suggest that just because someone worked for the Holy Land Foundation they should be suspected of financing terrorist activity, it is reasonable to wonder, with Schanzer, why there are not laws in place that require more financial transparency among not-for-profit corporations. Schanzer writes, “According to available records, AMP is a not-for-profit corporation, but not a federal, 501c3, tax-exempt organization. Therefore, AMP does not have to file an IRS 990 form that would make its finances more transparent.” Given today’s volatile political climate, and the very real threat posed by the western finance of over-seas terrorist entities, perhaps it is time for the IRS to reassesses their qualifications for 990 form exemption.

More News