|In an effort to increase dialogue between community leaders and government officials on critical issues facing the American Muslim community, the Forum will feature prominent speakers who will address the abuse of American Muslim organizations and share their experiences in reaching out to the American Muslim community. Confirmed speakers include Juan Zarate, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing in the Department of Treasury, and Eric Treene, Special Counsel for Post 9-11 Religious Discrimination in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights of the Department of Justice. |
In order to effectively protect our country and the rights of all Americans, we must continue to nurture a culture of understanding and cooperation among all Americans -- regardless of ethnic, religious or racial affiliation -- and between ordinary citizens and communities on the one hand and government officials and law enforcement on the other.
THE AMERICAN MUSLIM POLICY FORUM
at ISNA's 6th Annual Education Forum
March 25-26, 2005
Chicago Westin O'Hare Hotel
Plenary Session I: The American Muslim Experience in Policy Making
Muqtedar Khan, Brookings Non-resident fellow, Professior-Adrian College, American Muslim Policy Planning Group.
Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Plenary Session II: The Role of American Muslims in Preventing the Abuse of their Institutions: An Opportunity for Analysis.
(Moderator: Dr. Sayyid Syeed, Secretary General, ISNA)
Amit Sharma, Terrorist Financing & Financial Crime, Department of the Treasury.
Eric Treene, Special Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, Division for Civil Rights, Department of Justice.
Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Plenary Session III: Luncheon (15 min. each), The USG and American Muslims: A Hope for America
(Moderator: Dr. Sayyid Syeed, Secretary General, ISNA).
Juan Zarate, Assistant Secretary Treasury for Terrorist Financing, Department of the Treasury
Eric Treene, Special Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, Division for Civil Rights, Department of Justice
Session IV: Focus: The National Council of American Muslim Non-Profits
3-6 pm (by invitation only)
(Moderators: Ahmed Younis, MPAC National Director; Dr. Sayyid Syeed, ISNA Secretary General)
Participants include: Juan Zarate, Assitant Secretary Treasury for Terrorist Financing, Department of the Treasury
Join MPAC and ISNA for this important event! Register for the ISNA Education Forum at www.isna.net.
[CONTACT: Edina Lekovic, 213-383-3443, communications@mpac.
MIM: ISNA, The Islamic Society of North America - is on the list of charities which are linked to terrorism funding.
14 January 2004
Senators Request Tax Information on Muslim Charities for Probe
Possible links between charities, terrorist groups investigated
The Senate Finance Committee has asked the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for its records on more than two-dozen Muslim charities and organizations as part of an investigation into possible links between nongovernmental organizations and terrorist financing networks.
"Many of these groups not only enjoy tax-exempt status, but their reputations as charities and foundations often allows them to escape scrutiny, making it easier to hide and move their funds to other groups and individuals who threaten our national security," Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and ranking Democrat Max Baucus said in a December 22 letter to the IRS, the United States' federal tax-collection agency.
The letter, which was made public in a January 14 Finance Committee news release, includes requests for the organizations' tax returns, donor lists, applications for tax-exempt status, and all materials from examinations, audits and criminal investigations.
An attachment to the letter names 25 specific organizations, including Global Relief Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation, Islamic Association for Palestine and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. The senators additionally ask for IRS information on all charities, foundations and tax-exempt organizations that have been designated since September 11, 2001 as having links to terrorist networks by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Grassley and Baucus asked the IRS to deliver the requested information to the Senate by February 20.
The senators said their request was based on the Finance Committee's status as having "exclusive jurisdiction" in the Senate over tax matters.
Following is the text of the Finance Committee release:
Senate Committee on Finance
Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004
Records Sought About Tax-exempt Organizations for Committee's Terror Finance Probe
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, and Sen. Max Baucus, ranking member, have asked for information about tax-exempt organizations in connection with a committee investigation into terrorism financing. The Committee on Finance has jurisdiction over tax matters in the Senate.
A copy of the letter follows here.
December 22, 2003
The Honorable Mark Everson
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20224
Via mail and telefax (202) 622-4733
Dear Commissioner Everson:
The purpose of this letter is to inquire about and conduct oversight on the issue of organizations, particularly tax-exempt organizations such as charities and foundations, which finance terrorism and perpetuate violence.
Many of these groups not only enjoy tax-exempt status, but their reputations as charities and foundations often allows them to escape scrutiny, making it easier to hide and move their funds to other groups and individuals who threaten our national security. This support for the machinery of terrorism not only violates the law and tax regulations, but it violates the trust that citizens have in the large majority of charities, foundations and other groups that do good works in the United States.
Government officials, investigations by federal agencies and the Congress, and other reports have identified the crucial role that charities and foundations play in terror financing. While much attention has been paid to where their money ends up, the source of their funds is equally important. Often these groups are nothing more than shell companies for the same small group of people, moving funds from one charity to the next charity to hide the trail. These groups also receive donations from foreign sources, including countries the government has identified as having a significant problem with terrorism. The federal government and the Congress have identified several countries -- some of which, ostensibly, are our allies -- particularly in the Middle East, as a primary source of funds for charities and foundations that are under investigation or have fallen under suspicion for terrorist financing.
The Senate Finance Committee retains exclusive jurisdiction over tax matters in the Senate. We have a responsibility to carry out oversight to ensure charities, foundations and other groups are abiding by the laws and regulations, to examine their source of funds, and to ensure government agencies, including the IRS, are policing them and enforcing the law efficiently and effectively.
We ask that you provide copies of all IRS materials -- including information protected by Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code -- for the attached list of charities, foundations, other tax exempt organizations, and other groups. The material should include Form 990s and Form 990 PFs, including the donors list for both types; Form 1023s, the charities' applications for tax exempt status, and any and all materials from examinations, audits and other investigations, including criminal investigations. Pursuant to Internal Revenue Code section 6103(f)(4), Chairman Grassley hereby authorizes the following Finance Committee staff -- Dean Zerbe, John Drake, Pat Heck and Matt Stokes -- to review this information.
We would appreciate receiving this material no later than Friday, February 20, 2004. Please have IRS officials contact our staff to arrange the details of delivery. We thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Charles E. Grassley
Charities, Foundations, Other Tax-Exempt Organizations, and Other Groups
All charities, foundations and tax-exempt organizations, groups or entities who have been designated or listed by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) from September 11, 2001 to today.
The SAAR Foundation and all members and related entities
Global Relief Foundation (GRF)
Benevolence International Foundation (BIF)
Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA)
Muslim Student Association
Islamic Association for Palestine
Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF)
Muslim World League
International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) or Internal Relief Organization(IRO)
Al Haramain Foundation
Institute of Islamic and Arabic Science in America (IIASA)
Islamic Assembly of North American
Help the Needy
Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)
Islamic Foundation of America
United Association for Studies and Research (USAR)
Solidarity International and/or Solidarity USA
Islamic American Relief Agency and/or Islamic African Relief Agency
Islamic Society of North America
International Islamic Relief Organization
World Assembly of Muslim Youth
Human Appeal International
Some of the charities, foundations, other tax-exempt organizations or groups listed above may be included in the first category of entities listed or designated by OFAC. You do not need to provide duplicate records for these entities.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
MIM: The 'If you can't beat them join them approach" to radical Islamists was detailed in an article by John Mintz and Douglas Farah entitled : "In Search of Friend Among the Foes."
Many Brotherhood leaders advocate patience in promoting their goals. In a 1995 speech to an Islamic conference in Ohio, a top Brotherhood official, Youssef Qaradawi, said victory will come through dawah -- Islamic renewal and outreach -- according to a transcript provided by the Investigative Project, a Washington terrorism research group. "Conquest through dawah, that is what we hope for," said Qaradawi, an influential Qatari imam who pens some of the religious edicts justifying Hamas suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. "We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America, not through the sword but through dawah," said the imam, who has condemned the Sept. 11 attacks but is now barred from the United States.
In his speech, Qaradawi said the dawah would work through Islamic groups set up by Brotherhood supporters in this country. He praised supporters who were jailed by Arab governments in 1950s and then came to the United States to "fight the seculars and the Westernized" by founding this country's leading Islamic groups.
He named the Muslim Students Association (MSA), which was founded in 1963. Twenty years later, the MSA -- using $21 million raised in part from Qaradawi, banker Nada and the emir of Qatar -- opened a headquarters complex built on former farmland in suburban Indianapolis. With 150 chapters, the MSA is one of the nation's largest college groups.
The MSA Web site said the group's essential task "was always dawah." Nowadays, Muslim activists say, its members represent all schools of Islam and political leanings -- many are moderates, while others express anti-U.S. views or support violence against Israelis.
Some of the same Brotherhood people who started the MSA also launched the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) in 1971. The trust is a financing arm that holds title to hundreds of U.S. mosques and manages bank accounts for Muslim groups using Islamic principles.
In 1981, some of the same people launched the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which was also cited in Qaradawi's speech. It is an umbrella organization for Islamic groups that holds annual conventions drawing more than 25,000 people. Some U.S. officials praise its moderation, and its Islamic Horizons magazine covers such topics as Muslim Boy Scouts and Islamic investing principles.
People who helped set up the MSA, NAIT, ISNA and related groups say they are in no way anti-American -- they say they embrace American values while trying to strengthen their Muslim identities. They say their goal is not converting all Americans to Islam but constructing a vibrant Muslim community here.
The MSA, NAIT and ISNA did not respond to requests for comment. Officials from those organizations have said elsewhere they are not connected to foreign groups, such as the Brotherhood. But because the Brotherhood is a secret society, its precise links around the world are hard to determine, U.S. officials said.
In addition to the first generation of groups aimed at consolidating the U.S. Islamic community, a second generation arose to wield political and business clout.
One such group was the American Muslim Council (AMC), launched in 1990 to urge Muslims to get involved in politics and other civic activities. One of its founders was Mahmoud Abu Saud, who 58 years before helped Banna expand the Brotherhood, and who later became a top financial adviser to governments from Morocco to Kuwait, according to documents provided by the SITE Institute, a Washington terrorism research group that has written reports critical of the Brotherhood. The AMC folded in 2003, and a more moderate group has assumed that name.
One leader of the former AMC was Abdurahman Alamoudi, who U.S. officials and Islamic activists say is a Brotherhood associate. In July he pleaded guilty to moving funds from Libya, which was illegal because the United States at the time considered that country a sponsor of terrorism. Federal documents in the case say he is a Hamas supporter. Alamoudi also was identified by U.S. officials in June as a participant in a plot hatched by Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to assassinate the Saudi head of state, Crown Prince Abdullah.
Another group in this generation is the Muslim American Society, based in Falls Church, which was co-founded in 1992 by Akef, the recently installed head of Egypt's Brotherhood, and other Ikhwanis, Akef told the Chicago Tribune in February. The group's goals include spreading Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims and building "a virtuous and moral society." Its officials deny ties to the Ikhwan.
Home in Northern Virginia
Since the mid-1990s, a Northern Virginia-based group of companies, charities and think tanks has also been under off-and-on scrutiny by U.S. officials looking into whether it has ties to anti-Israel terrorist financing. Lawyers for the informal network, centered on the Herndon-based International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), deny impropriety.
Jordanian political figure Farhan, who was barred from this country in 2000 and then received U.S. diplomats' apologies in Amman, had been on his way to a Virginia board meeting of the IIIT, which he had helped lead for years.
Lawyer Nancy Luque said her clients embrace American values such as democracy and equality for women. "They love this country," she said. "Their kids are in school here becoming doctors and lawyers." In the 1980s and early 1990s, she said, her clients gave intelligence tips picked up by their global contacts to the State and Defense departments.
The IIIT network was set up in the 1980s largely by onetime Brotherhood sympathizers with money from wealthy Saudis, Muslim activists said. A number of its members ended their Brotherhood ties years ago after concluding it was too inflexible but still advocate some of its principles, the activists said.
Some network figures had dealings with activists who ran two vehemently anti-Israel groups out of the University of South Florida in Tampa, federal documents said. One of the activists, USF professor Sami al-Arian, was indicted last year on charges of conspiracy to commit murder via suicide attacks in Israel. Officials said he was secretly a top leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. Al-Arian denies the charges.
The network's lawyers say that its ties to Al-Arian were fleeting. The government is looking into whether the network engaged in tax violations and "suspected terrorism-related money laundering activities," a U.S. customs agent stated in a report on the probe filed in federal court a year ago.
Luque said her clients abhor terrorism, including against Israelis.
But an IIIT book called "Violence," published in 2001, said Israel is a "foreign usurper" that must be confronted with "fear, terror and lack of security." The book, by IIIT official AbdulHamid AbuSulayman, says, "Fighting is a duty of the oppressed people." Palestinian fighters must choose their targets "whether the targets are civilian or military," it said, adding that any such attacks should not be "excessive." The book said such attacks are justified acts of a liberation struggle, not terrorism.
The life story of one of the IIIT network's leaders illustrates the key role it has played in the global politics of the Ikhwan. Jamal M. Barzinji fled his native Iraq in 1969 when the Baathist regime started executing fellow Islamists. An engineering student and top MSA leader, he joined MSA associates in 1971 to host the top leaders of the Egyptian Brotherhood, just released from 16 years in prison, for two weeks of meetings in Indiana.
He and other then-MSA leaders helped persuade the Egyptian brothers to try participating in Egyptian elections as an alternative to underground struggle, he said. "It was one of our main contributions to the Ikhwan movement worldwide," he said. He and his associates likewise have hosted many other Islamist leaders here over the years to "show them how wrong they are in being anti-American," Barzinji said.
But the government's current probe of the IIIT network undercuts their efforts toward moderation, he said. "The extremists say: 'See? All American society is corrupt.' "
Beyond U.S. Shores
Some U.S. Islam experts say law enforcement investigations of Ikhwan-tied activists complicate U.S. diplomatic dialogues with Brotherhood members overseas. For years, State Department and CIA officials have met with Brotherhood activists in Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and elsewhere to track currents within Islamic politics.
"We want to know where they're coming from, to influence them," said Edward P. Djerejian, a former top State Department official who now runs Rice University's James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.
At the same time, host governments in Cairo, Tunis and elsewhere warn that the Brotherhood is dangerous. So do many in U.S. law enforcement. "There were debates all the time about meeting with them," Djerejian said.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, pockets in the government -- including officials in State's Near East bureau and diplomats posted overseas -- have quietly advocated that the government reach out to the Brotherhood and its allies. These officials and some in U.S. think tanks hope the Brotherhood can temper its anti-U.S. stance and become a barrier against jihadists worldwide.
"Bin Laden-ism can only be gutted by fundamentalists" such as the Ikhwan, said Reuel Gerecht, a former CIA officer in the Middle East who is tracking pro-democracy activism in the region for the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
As U.S. officials try to promote democracy in Muslim countries, he said, "it's inevitable the U.S. will engage the fundamentalists" because of their popularity in those societies. Indeed, many Arab experts say the Ikhwan or its allies could win open elections in countries such as Egypt and Algeria.
But many in the government oppose engagement because it runs counter to the wishes of close U.S. allies in the Egyptian and Moroccan governments, which feel threatened by the Brotherhood.
"At high levels of the government, there's no desire to go in the direction of dialogue," said Fuller, the former CIA official. "It's still seen as fairly way out." But he warns against a litmus test for talking to Islamists -- such as eliminating those who embrace anti-Israel terrorism or make anti-American statements. "There's hardly an Islamic group anywhere that hasn't done that," he said.
Leslie Campbell, who runs Middle East affairs for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, supports the outreach idea. Campbell, who trains Arab politicians including Islamists, hosted a delegation in July from a Brotherhood-tied political party in Yemen to the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
"They appreciated that the U.S. had reached out to them," he said. "If they're empowered, they'd serve as a bulwark against those who want to destroy."