The Chicago-based Zakat Foundation of America, a 501©3 non-profit, was founded in 2001, and presents itself in a benevolent light:
Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) is an international charity organization that helps generous and caring people reach out to those in need. Our goal is to address immediate needs and ensure the self-reliance of the poorest people around the world with Zakat and Sadaqa [acts of worship] dollars of privileged Muslims and the support of other generous donors.
Does the Zakat Foundation of America merely help, in an innocent charitable way, “the poorest people” or is it a front for jihad? Part of the answer comes in the identity of the Muslim thinkers the foundation promotes. Chief among them is Yusuf al-Qardawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who in 2009 declared his hope that before his death, even if he was wheelchair-bound, he would be able to “shoot Allah's enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom.”
Another answer comes in the organizations with which the charity is associated. A number of organizations in the United States have already been identified as Muslim Brotherhood front groups by the FBI. The Zakat Foundation of America works with at least two of the 29 groups the bureau has specified as falling into this category—the Islamic Center of North America (ISNA) endorsed the Zakat Foundation as an organization with “a strong history of immediate and effective responses to national and international disasters” and featured in several of the Zakat Foundation promotional videos. The other Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group the Zakat Foundation collaborates with is the Muslim Students Association (MSA), having designed printed material guiding MSA activists on “How to start a successful halaqa group in your Masjid,” “How to Help Neighbors in Need,” and “Starting a Food Pantry.”
Finally, there is the question of how the Zakat Foundation distributes its funds. The Caipirinha Foundation, the charitable organization created by anti-Israel documentarian Iara Lee and her billionaire husband George Gund III, utilized Zakat as a fiscal sponsor for a grant to the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief (IHH). The IHH is part of the “Union of Good,” an umbrella coalition of Hamas-affiliated organizations led by Qaradawi. The Foundation supports the IHH’s efforts to disrupt Israel’s self-defense, describing last year’s controversial flotilla as a “heroic effort.”
Given these intimate connections to radical figures and Muslim Brotherhood fronts, it’s safe to characterize the Zakat Foundation of America as another component in the jihad.