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News Analysis

RI.org Exclusive: Islamist Adviser to the State Dept and USAID Exposed

Wed, October 24, 2012

by: 
Ryan Mauro

Abed Ayoub, the CEO of Islamic Relief USA, a powerful charity with links to Hamas is an official advisor to the State Department and USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), a ClarionProject.org investigation has found.

Ayoub has been advising the Obama Administration since at least April 2010. He and his organization have been publicly embraced by President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Ayoub was born in a Palestinian refugee camp and raised in Jordan. After high school, he moved to Yugoslavia and Germany and ultimately ended up in California. He became a volunteer for the Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) and went on to become its CEO in 2008. He is a governance committee member of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), IRUSA’s parent group. He is also on the Board of Trustees of the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty.

Ayoub joined the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group in November 2011, specifically the Sub-Group on Faith-Based Groups and Development and Humanitarian Assistance, according to IRUSA’s press release. It says he will “take part in dialogue and provide input on relevant topics including the challenges and opportunities for partnership. The group also will identify model action programs or projects for collaboration between the U.S. government and NGOs.” The release says it will “meet through November 2012.” The timing and phrasing suggests that this isn’t the group’s expiration date and that the election will determine whether its work continues next year.

According to his bio, Ayoub was appointed to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid in April 2010, where he “provides advice, analysis and recommendations to USAID on the most pressing development issues in the world today.” He was reappointed to another two-year term in May.

On November 23-24, 2010, Ayoub spoke at Washington National Cathedral and the White House. In August 2011, he was given a Distinguished Community Service Award by the Department of Agriculture. President Obama mentioned his administration’s work with IRUSA at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2, 2012. On June 21, Ayoub spoke at an event hosted by Vice President Biden (there’s a picture of the two together on this page).

That’s quite a list of accomplishments for a man whose bio states that he’s a governance committee member of 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 stated 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.

Joe Kaufman writes that IRW is the creation of Hani Al-Bana, a former trustee of a group called Muslim Aid. The British government cleared Muslim Aid in 2010, raising objections from some terrorism experts because of the group’s well-documented ties to terror-linked Islamist groups. The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report further reports on the Brotherhood ties of IRW leaders, including one that used to be the Minister of Religious Affairs in Sudan.

Ayoub’s group, IRUSA, tries to put some distance between itself and IRW on its website by saying they are “legally separate and independent affiliates (also referred to as ‘partner offices’).” IRUSA’s Facebook page says it is a “legally separate and independent member of a global family of collaborating relief organizations that share a common vision, mission, and family identity, and all of which use the term ‘Islamic Relief’ as part of their organizational name.”

As mentioned, Ayoub is both the CEO of IRUSA and a governance committee member of IRW. IRUSA’s president and chairman of the board, Mohamed Amr Attawia, sits on IRW’s Board of Trustees. Americans for Peace and Tolerance discovered that Attawia was listed as the New England director in a 1991 phone directory of the American Muslim Brotherhood. Attawia also once was the Vice President of the Muslim American Society, a Brotherhood front.

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.

Kaufman reported in 2007 that IRUSA’s Registered Agent is Kazbek Soobzokov, who was the attorney for Wagdy Ghoneim. Ghoneim was a radical imam in California who was arrested in November 2004. The Department of Homeland Security had evidence that he was fundraising for Hamas, and he voluntarily left the U.S. On September 30, he preached that Muslims who call themselves liberals or secularists should be prosecuted as apostates.

IRUSA’s events regularly feature Islamist speakers. At least nine of its fundraisers for Palestinians this year featured Hatem Bazian, the chairman of American Muslims for Palestine. These took place in Elk Grove, CA; Stockton, CA; Redmond, WA; Brooklyn, NY; East Rutherford, NJ; Dublin, OH; Garden Grove, CA; Orlando, FL and Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Bazian’s group holds events that preach extremism including support for the destruction of Israel and at least two board members worked closely with the Holy Land Foundation, a charity shut down for financing Hamas. Bazian said in 2004 that Muslim-Americans need to follow in the footsteps of the “uprising in Iraq” and the “intifada in Palestine” by having an intifada in the U.S. to “change fundamentally the political dynamics in here.” He warned, “They're gonna say some Palestinian [is] being too radical – well, you haven't seen radicalism yet."

In June, Bazian said that the U.S. wants to ally with India against China because “we always like that the darker people fight our war and the more these people die is better for the officers because racism can be manifested across many sectors.”

He claimed there is a “systemic process of targeting Muslim leadership of organizational structures by eliminating the existing leadership that has developed over the last 40 years…” Bazian repeated this theme in a video posted in September. He said that the “military-industrial complex” is behind the “Islamophobic production industry.”

“Those who are working on Islamophobia, they believe that the more hatred we have of Muslims in here, the more that we have reflexive hatred of Muslims abroad, thus authorizing or making the need for military action and the death and destruction more palatable to us without having to think we are actually killing humans,” Bazian said.

The IRUSA "Fundraising Dinner for Palestine" in Richardson, Texas on January 15 featured Sheikh Kifah Mustapha. The government designated him an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorism-financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation. He is listed among “individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and/or its organizations.” The Palestine Committee was set up by the Brotherhood to support Hamas in the U.S. Mustapha’s mosque has extensive links to the Brotherhood and he sang in a band that performed pro-Hamas songs.

On June 23, IRUSA held a "Fundraising Dinner for Palestine" at the Islamic Center of Charlotte in North Carolina. The mosque is owned by the North American Islamic Trust, a Muslim Brotherhood entity that was also labeled an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land trial.

IRUSA will be holding its First Annual Change the World Banquet on December 1 in Anaheim, California with Imam Zaid Shakir, whose radicalism has been documented at ClarionProject.org (click here, here and here). Also scheduled to speak is Imam Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of Boston, a mosque linked to Sheikh Yousef Qaradawi, an influential terrorism-supporting Muslim Brotherhood cleric. The mosque was founded by Abdurahman Alamoudi, a highly successful Brotherhood operative that is now in prison on terrorism-related charges.

IRUSA also sponsored a fundraiser for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on March 3. CAIR is another designated unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land trial. The government says CAIR is a creation of the Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee. Speakers at the event included Kifah Mustapha and Edina Lekovic, a spokeswoman for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which was also founded by Brotherhood ideologues.

What’s especially shocking about the influence of Ayoub is that IRUSA appears to be on the radar screen of top counter-terrorism officials. A budget analyst for the National Geospatial Agency may have lost his security clearance because of his wife’s employment with IRUSA. In April 2011, Patrick Poole, a national security and terrorism reporter, quoted a high-level Justice Department source as saying to him:

“Ten years ago we shut down the Holy Land Foundation. It was the right thing to do. Then the money started going to KindHearts. We shut them down too. Now the money is going through groups like Islamic Relief and Viva Palestina. Until we act decisively to cut off the financial pipeline to these terrorist groups by putting more of these people in prison, they are going to continue to raise money that will go into the hands of killers.”

It is alarming to think that the leader of a group with strong Islamist ties, including links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, is advising the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The White House is even embracing him and promoting his group.

Answers are needed. How did Abed Ayoub and Islamic Relief USA get this high-level access and influence with this background? And what is IRUSA using its influence in the Obama Administration to accomplish?