The Islamic Society of North America or ISNA, as its name implies, is a function of both the United States and Canada. Given that that is the case, a question might arise as to whether the group operates as two separate entities, one in each of its respective countries, or one single organization. And if the two entities are actually one, if one part has action taken against it regarding a terror-related matter, should not the other suffer the same fate or should it instead be embraced by the government?
In September of this year, following an audit it had done of ISNA, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), an arm of the Canadian government, stripped the group of its charitable tax status. According to the CRA, ISNA had a “funding arrangement” with the Kashmiri Canadian Council/Kashmiri Relief Fund of Canada, a charity run by Jamaat-e-Islami, which is the largest Islamist group in South Asia.
Jamaat-e-Islami has been associated with terrorist funding before. In August 2006, the group’s main charity, the al-Khidmat Foundation, led a delegation to Damascus, Syria to hand $6 million rupees ($99,000 U.S.) to the global head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, at Meshaal’s then-Syrian residence. The delegation delivered a “special message” from Jamaat-e-Islami’s then-Amir (President) Qazi Hussain Ahmad to the Hamas leader. Meshaal thanked them for the gift and said Hamas would continue to wage jihad (war) against Israel.
As well, Jamaat-e-Islami supports the overthrow of the Indian government through its militant wing, Hizbul Mujahideen, an outfit that has been involved in numerous terrorist attacks against Indian troops and civilians alike.
Hizbul Mujahideen became known globally, when reports surfaced showing that it held ownership of the Pakistani compound where Osama bin Laden was hiding/living and where he later was found/killed. Yet, while Hizbul Mujahideen is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and India, the U.S. government does not recognize it as such. Nor does the U.S. government recognize any of the other aforementioned groups as terrorist organizations.
And while ISNA has lost its tax status in Canada, the group has only been embraced by the White House. ISNA has boasted about its ability to arrange White House tours and brief White House staff, and highlights from one of ISNA’s conferences are discussed right on the White House website.
It wasn’t always like this. Similar to its Canadian counterpart, the U.S. office of ISNA has been implicated in the financing of terrorism.
In 2007 and 2008, ISNA, along with a cadre of other Islamist groups and individuals, was named by the United States Justice Department as a co-conspirator to two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. The defendants of the trials were the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) and HLF itself. In the end, each was found guilty of all charges.
There was good reason for ISNA to be named. For years, since the HLF charity was established in 1987 as the Occupied Land Fund (OLF), the terror group advertised its Plainfield, Indiana mailing address as the same one being used (to this day) by ISNA. ISNA’s main youth group, the Muslim Students Association (MSA), asked for donations to be sent to the address in OLF’s name.
Even now, ISNA places full color, full page ads in its magazine, Islamic Horizons, for Muslim charities associated with terrorism. This month’s issue includes ads for:
- Helping Hand, a partner organization to Jamaat-e-Islami’s al-Khidmat, at the time when the group traveled to Syria to give the $99,000 to the head of Hamas
- Islamic Relief, a former financier of millions of dollars to al-Qaeda-related Chechen rebels and a charity that Israel has labeled a front for Hamas
- International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a former financier of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad front and a charity that had its offices raided by the FBI in a March 2002 terror probe
- Mercy-USA, a group that has had a number of terror-related individuals serve as board members, including convicted terrorist Abdurahman Alamoudi, and the U.S. office of Mercy International, a charity implicated in the al-Qaeda-perpetrated 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania
According to ISNA’s main website, the organization has two Vice Presidents, one for the U.S., Azhar Azeez, and one for Canada, Mohamed Bekkari. However, the site shows that it only has one President, that being Mohamed Magid.
Magid has become dangerously close to the U.S. government, so much so that he has been appointed to a position administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ironically as a member of a working group dealing with “countering violent extremism.”
Placing a terror-associated Islamist, as is Magid, in such a position of power could have negative effects on both American national security and American foreign policy. We may not realize how much damage has already been done because of appointments like this.
Canada, for its part, has recognized that Magid’s organization is a threat to society. A sane policy would be for the U.S. to follow suit, as both ISNA Canada and ISNA USA suffer from the identical radical Islamic malady.
Indeed, they are one and the same.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.