George H. W. Bush’s Thousand Points of Light Foundation was supposed to be a volunteerism hub connecting volunteers with non-profits. It was a decent enough idea, using people helping each to substitute for government.
Then the POL Foundation merged and submerged. In 2007 it was being run by Michelle Nunn, a political princess whose father was the Dem Senator from Georgia, and whose daughter now wants to inherit his seat.
Back at Points of Light, Michelle Nunn had transformed Points of Light into a generic social justice enterprise feeding money to a network of allied left-wing groups. Nunn got a $300,000 salary and even groups linked to terrorists got paid… as Eliana Johnson reports.
According to the IRS Form 990s that Points of Light filed in 2008 and 2011, the organization gave a grant of over $33,000 to Islamic Relief USA, a charity that says it strives to alleviate “hunger, illiteracy, and diseases worldwide.” Islamic Relief USA is part of a global network of charities that operate under the umbrella of Islamic Relief Worldwide. Islamic Relief USA says on its website that it is a legally separate entity from its parent organization, but that they share “a common vision, mission, and family identity.”
Islamic Relief Worldwide has ties to Hamas, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization. In June, Israel banned the charity from operating in the country because, according to Israeli officials, it was funneling cash to Hamas. In 2006, Israelis arrested Islamic Relief Worldwide’s Gaza coordinator, Ayaz Ali. They said he was working to “transfer funds and assistance to various Hamas institutions and organizations.” Ali admitted to cooperating with local Hamas operatives while working in Jordan and, on his computer, Israeli officials found photographs of “swastikas superimposed on IDF symbols,” and of Nazi officials, Osama bin Laden, and al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Islamic Relief USA highlighted the work of Islamic Relief Worldwide in Palestine in its 2012 annual report, in which it talks generally about the work of Islamic Relief charities in the region without drawing a distinction between the branches. The organization has raised eyebrows before. According to a 2012 report, its bank account was closed by UBS and it was “under constant scrutiny by other banks due to nervousness about counterterrorist regulations.” The group’s terror ties extend beyond Hamas, according to a former Israeli intelligence official. He says that Islamic Relief Worldwide’s country director in Palestine, Muneed Abugazaleh, met in April 2012 with Dr. Omar Shalah, a leader of the terror group Islamic Jihad and of the Riyad al-Saleheen Charitable Society, which is affiliated with the group. He is also the brother of Ramadan Shalah, the leader of Islamic Jihad.
Aside from the terrorism issue, what does any of this have to do with POL’s original mission of volunteerism?
Islamic Relief USA is largely oriented toward Muslim conflict zones. It’s raising money currently for Syria and Gaza. Considering that Gaza is run by Hamas, some serious questions need to be asked.
Ryan Mauro has some more details on the interconnections.
Although IRUSA says it is a “legally separate and independent” affiliate of IRW, the two share leadership and resources. IRUSA transferred $4.8 million, $5.9 million and $9.4 million to IRW in 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively. IRUSA’s December 31, 2010 financial report states, “The majority of IRUSA’s programs are administered through grants with [IRW],” with a total of nearly $22 million that year alone.
Which essentially means that if you’re funding IRUSA, you’re funding a group linked extensively to terrorists. And not just Hamas.
In 1999, IRW received a $50,000 donation from Human Concern International; a group the U.S. government says is linked to Al-Qaeda. IRW’s material continues to refer to HCI as a partner.
So we’ve got someone running for Senate who oversaw transfers of money to terrorist linked organizations. Not exactly a thousand points of light.