Last Friday, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced that it has revoked the charitable status of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Development Foundation, after an audit of its books produced evidence linking it to Pakistani terrorist groups. “The Government of Canada has made it clear that it will not tolerate the abuse of the registration system for charities to provide any means of support to terrorism,” said a CRA press release.
The CRA, which is the Canadian equivalent of the IRS, issued the 71-page “letter of revocation,” after auditing two years’ worth of activity that took place from Jan. 1, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2009. Complete with flow charts, it detailed funding transactions between ISNA Canada and the Kashmiri Canadian Council/Kashmiri Relief Fund of Canada (KCC/KRFC), a group the CRA considers non-qualified donees under Canada’s Income Tax Act.
The CRA believes ISNA Canada did this for the purpose of relinquishing control of the funds to the KCC/KRFC, who in turn sent money to the Pakistani-based Relief ISNA Development for Kashmiri Muslims (ROKM) for ostensible “relief work” in Kashmir. ISNA Canada supplied official donation receipts to the donors, while it disbursed more than $280,000 to ROKM, either directly, or via KCC/KRFC.
The CRA said the ROKM is the charitable arm of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a political group that contests the legitimacy of the Indian government’s control over the state of Kashmir, to the point of advocating secession. ROKM’s efforts includes activities perpetrated by its armed wing, the Hizbul Mujahideen. The Council of the European Union considers the Hizbul Mujahideen a terrorist organization as does the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, which cites Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 as the basis of that designation.
The foundation “facilitated the transfer of resources that may have been used to support the efforts of a political organization . . . and its armed wing,” the CRA said in a letter sent to ISNA Canada. “Canada’s commitment to combating terrorism extends to preventing organizations with ties to terrorism from benefiting from the tax advantages of charitable registration,” it added.
Acting ISNA Canada president G. Nabi Chaudhary disputed the CRA’s contentions. “The money did not go to any groups who were freedom fighters,” he insisted. “We made sure that all of the money the charity sent to those organizations was spent on the needy, to help the misplaced. We had people on the ground who were working with the relief organizations.”
ISNA Canada board members contradicted Chaudhary’s assertions. “Once the money left Canada, (the foundation) had no control over the money, how it was spent or what it was to be spent on,” board members said, according to the CRA.
In addition, the charity could not produce any documents for CRS auditors proving otherwise. The only evidence ISNA Canada did produce, photographs purporting to show relief efforts being done on its behalf, were “altered,” according to the tax agency. They conducted a forensic investigation revealing that pictures of men performing relief work in front of an ISNA Canada banner had been doctored, specifically the banner itself.
The CRA is conducting other audits of charities affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America Canada. Their efforts were precipitated after a 2011 investigation conducted by Star, a Canadian newspaper, revealed that ISNA mismanaged more than $600,000 in charitable contributions earmarked for the poor. An audit showed that of about $810,777 collected over four years, only $196,460 aided the poor.
Much of it went to affiliated services and businesses, many of which listed ISNA Canada’s long-time secretary general, Mohammad Ashraf, as a director, despite federal laws that forbid charities from spending donations on business activities that do not aid the charity. After running ISNA Canada for 32 years Ashraf was forced to retire in 2011
Yet while he was still running the show at ISNA Canada, Ashraf was also secretary of ISNA Canada, putting him at the center of both scandals. Board members accuse Ashraf of running both charities like his personal fiefdoms. Ashraf dismissed those claims. “This and other accusations by the (Foundation) board seem to come out of petty internal politics which seems to be ongoing but is not worth discussion,” he said.
ISNA Canada has issued no comment as of yet on the ruling, other than a July 26 statement on their website. “We think it is unhelpful to cast aspersions about support for militant groups on a charity and the law abiding citizens that it serves based on pure speculation,” the statement said.
Fortunately, the case is no longer about speculation. ISNA Canada is finished as a charity. According to the CRS, this means it “can no longer issue donation receipts for income tax purposes and is no longer a qualified donee under the Income Tax Act. The organization is no longer exempt from income tax, unless it qualifies as a non-profit organization, and it may be subject to a tax equal to the full value of its remaining assets.”
Its parent organization in the United States issued a statement on its website distancing itself from its Canadian counterpart, noting that “the leadership and management of both of these organizations in Canada are separate from ISNA … in the United States,” and that there “has been no links of authority or responsibility between the United States and Canadian organizations for a few decades, despite the similarity of names.”
The American version of ISNA was one of three major Islamic organizations listed by federal prosecutor as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) case. HFL founders were convicted of funneling more than $12 million to support Hamas. During that trial, ISNA and the the North American Islamic Trust were also listed as ”entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.”
The Obama administration has had close relations with ISNA in the U.S. President Obama and his senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, have met multiple times with the president of ISNA. Jarrett in fact spoke at ISNA in 2009. Earlier this month, President Obama himself sent a video-taped message to the 2013 ISNA convention in which he praised ISNA and called the group his “partner.”
And while Americans are well aware of the IRS’s laser-like scrutiny of right wing groups applying for charitable status, they will be hard pressed to find any evidence of an IRS’s investigation into ISNA’s activities. In fact, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the other unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case, had its tax exempt status restored by the IRS, after it had been taken away in 2011 for failure to file annual tax reports required by federal law.
Last weekend was a busy one for Islamic terrorists. In Nairobi, at least 60 people were killed and more than 300 wounded when an upscale shopping center was turned into a killing field by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab. In Peshawar, Pakistan, at least 78 Christians were slaughtered in a suicide attack on All Saints Church. In Iraq, a string of suicide attacks, including two suicide bombers striking a grouping of funeral tents filled with Shiite mourners in Baghdad, claimed another 96 victims. And in Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorists posing as government soldiers slaughtered 142 people at a series of roadside checkpoints.
Every one of these, and countless other terrorist operations, requires funding. Where that funding comes from should be one of the primary focuses of every taxing entity in every Western nation, all the political correctness in the world notwithstanding. The CRA is to be applauded. Who will follow their lead?
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