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News Analysis

$200 Million U.S. Islamic Charity Linked to Muslim Brotherhood

Tue, January 29, 2013

by: 
Ryan Mauro

ClarionProject.org has discovered that four officials of Islamic Relief USA, a charity that reported a whopping $182 million in revenue in 2010, have Muslim Brotherhood ties. One appears to have been arrested in Egypt in 2009 and another has even defended Hamas as “freedom fighters.” RadialIslam.org. previously documented IRUSA’s Islamist ties in an expose about the Obama Administration’s embrace of the group, including having its CEO serve as a State Department and USAID adviser.

As stated in our previous article, Americans for Peace and Tolerance discovered that IRUSA president and board chairman Mohamed Amr Attawia is listed as the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood New England director in a 1991 phone directory.

He was also once the Vice President of the Muslim American Society, which federal prosecutors say “was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.” Abdurrahman Alamoudi, an admitted secret U.S. Muslim Brotherhood member that was convicted on terrorism-related charges, said in January, “Everyone knows that MAS is the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Now, ClarionProject.org has found three more IRUSA officials with Muslim Brotherhood links, two of which have also held positions in MAS.

Ahmed Shehata is the contact person and speaker for several IRUSA fundraisers. His Linked-In page lists him as the group’s Operations Manager. His Facebook page states that he is from Alexandria, Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood website reported in January 2009 that 21 Muslim Brotherhood leaders from Alexandria were arrested by the Egyptian government, including one by the name of Dr. Ahmed Shehata.

The evidence strongly points towards IRUSA’s Shehata as being the same Shehata arrested in Egypt. He “liked” at least 18 pro-Muslim Brotherhood pages on Facebook last year. These include a page for the Alexandria branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and a page for the Muslim Brotherhood students of Alexandria University.

The other pages are supportive of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi (the Brotherhood’s candidate), former Brotherhood Supreme Guide Akef, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, Brotherhood spiritual leader Sheikh Qaradawi and a page called the “Brotherhood Intelligence Agency.” He also liked three pages supportive of the Egyptian Salafists and a page for the “United Islamic States.” Elsewhere on his Facebook, he states that Qaradawi is the Islamic preacher he most trusts.

Shehata did not respond to an e-mail from the author asking whether he was the individual arrested in Egypt.

Even if Shehata is not the Muslim Brotherhood member that was arrested in January 2009, it remains true that IRUSA’s Operations Manager is extremely devoted to the Brotherhood and, since he states he’s from Alexandria, is likely a member of the group.

The third IRUSA official linked to the Brotherhood is Hamdy Radwan, a member of the board of directors since November 2012. He is originally from Egypt and got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cairo University. He “likes” at least six pro-Muslim Brotherhood pages on Facebook. Three endorse President Morsi, two support the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and one supports Sheikh Qaradawi.

In a November 2006 interview with the Carolina Journal, he was asked whether he considers Hamas to be a terrorist group. He answered, “No, I do not” and said he sees them as “freedom fighters, in other countries.”

The fourth official is Ahmad Esmat El-Bendary. According to his biography, he is the founder of IRUSA and was its chairman and CEO from 1993 to March 2006 and remains a senior adviser to the board. Today, he is the president of MAS.

This is just scratching the surface. Our previous article on IRUSA explained that the group is the American branch of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). In 2006, Israel arrested the IRW’s project coordinator of its Gaza office, Iyaz Ali, for funneling money to Hamas. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ press release says that IRW operations in Gaza and the West Bank were inseparable from that of Hamas:

“The IRW’s activities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip are carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives. The intensive activities of these associations are designed to further Hamas’ ideology among the Palestinian population,” it states.

The Israeli government says that Iyaz Ali admitted to knowing that the organizations supported by IRW are Hamas entities. These organizations incite acts of terrorism and provide material aid to the families of Hamas terrorists that are wounded or in Israeli custody.

Interestingly, in November, the British bank UBS closed IRW’s bank account and blocked its customers from donating to it. IRW blamed unfair counter-terrorism regulations.

Although IRUSA says it is a “legally separate and independent” affiliate of IRW, CEO Abed Ayoub is a governance committee member of IRW. IRUSA president Attawia sits on IRW’s board of trustees.

[ad] The immense movement of money transferred between the two shows they operate as one. The Money Jihad blog documents the movement of about $5 million, $6 million and $9.5 million from IRUSA to IRW in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively. The IRUSA’s December 31, 2010 financial report says, “The majority of IRUSA’s programs are administered through grants with [IRW],” with a total of nearly $22 million that year alone.

IRUSA’s events across the U.S. often feature Islamist speakers. Still, IRUSA CEO Abed Ayoub was appointed to a one-year position with the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group in November 2011, and he remains an adviser to the U.S. Agency on International Development.

More confrontational groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations receive a lot more attention, but their annual revenue and global presence is dwarfed by IRUSA. The group seems to be off the radar because it is not engaged in overt political activism, but when a charity (especially one of this size) has Muslim Brotherhood connections and sympathies, it deserves scrutiny.

Click here to read ClarionProject.org’s original article about the Obama Administration’s embrace of IRUSA.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.