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A high-level Justice Department source mentioned Islamic Relief in a conversation with counter-terrorism reporter Patrick Poole in April 2011 about U.S.-based Hamas fronts. He said, “Ten years ago we shut down the Holy Land Foundation…Then the money started going to KindHearts. We shut them down too. Now the money is going through groups like Islamic Relief and Viva Palestina.”
The National Geospatial Agency is being sued for cancelling the security clearance of Mahmoud M. Hegab, who says the agency declined it because his wife works for IRUSA. The agency was concerned about her “current affiliation with one or more organizations which consist of groups who are organized largely around their non-United States origin.”
These facts have not stopped the U.S. government from working with IRUSA under both parties. The current administration has been particularly friendly to the charity. In April 2010, its CEO, Abed Ayoub, was appointed to the U.S. Agency for International Development Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid. He then was appointed to the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group in November 2011.
In August 2011, the White House’s website promoted an article about how the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with IRUSA. The Department honored IRUSA that month during its third annual Iftar dinner, giving a Distinguished Community Award to Ayoub. During the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2012, President Obama boasted of how the administration included IRUSA in faith-based initiatives.
The June 16-17 fundraisers feature Dr. Hatem Bazian, chairman of American Muslims for Palestine. In a 2004 speech at an anti-war rally, Bazian said, “We’ve been watching intifada in Palestine, we’ve been watching an uprising in Iraq…How come we don’t have an intifada in this country? It’s about time that we have an intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics here…They’re gonna say some Palestinian [is] being too radical—well, you haven’t seen radicalism yet.” Aside from this frightening sentiment, it should be noticed that he referred to those fighting U.S. forces in Iraq as being part of “an uprising.”
AMP’s leadership includes at least two fundraisers for the Holy Land Foundation, including a board member named Salah Sarsour. His brother was arrested in 1998 for his support to Hamas and, according to an FBI memo, disclosed how he was financing Hamas through the Holy Land Foundation. His brother said he was also using the Islamic Association for Palestine, a Muslim Brotherhood front, for the same purpose.
AMP’s conferences feature extremist rhetoric and the group helps Viva Palestina raise money. Viva Palestina’s support for Hamas is well-documented. At one event, AMP board member Osama Abu Irshaid said that Hamas’ firing of rockets into Israel indiscriminately is “legitimate resistance” under international law “because they are under occupation.” He referred to Hamas as “the resistance” in his speech.
The contact listed for the June 16-17 events is Ahmed Bedier, the former executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ branch in Tampa. He left in 2008 and founded his own group, United Voices for America. CAIR is a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood and was listed by the U.S. government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land trial. A federal judge subsequently upheld the designation because there was “ample” evidence tying CAIR to Hamas.
Donors at the June 16-17 fundraisers may think they are just donating to a charity that will help Palestinians in need of humanitarian assistance but if history is any indication, there is a strong possibility that their money will pass from IRUSA to IRW and from there to the pro-Hamas Islamist cause.
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