By Vincent Larouche
Published by Rue Frontenac
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Version française ICI
An investigation by Rue Frontenac reveals that Islamists who are managing a school subsidized by the Québec Department of Education transfer each year tens of thousands of dollars to groups suspected of having links to terrorism and even to Osama bin Laden himself, without being the least bothered by Québec or Canadian authorities.
These money transfers done by the people who are supervising Montreal Dar al-Iman school are not illegal and nothing proves that a single dollar given by the Government of Québec has ended up supporting international jihad.
However, two former Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) officials, interviewed for this article, believe that the suspicion surrounding three beneficiaries of the money transfers should have led the authorities to raise the alarm. The beneficiaries are Islamic Relief, IRFAN and Human Concern International.
Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former CSIS Asia-Pacific bureau chief, commented: “We have three pillars of smoke. Is there fire? How is it possible that in Québec City and in Ottawa they have not looked into this? This demonstrates that somebody is not working very hard. This is shocking! “
His ex-colleague and former chief of strategic planning at CSIS, David B. Harris, agrees: “This whole situation makes me very uncomfortable”.
Attending a Muslim Brotherhood School
As revealed by Rue Frontenac last December, the Québec Department of Education gives $555,500 a year in grants to the Muslim school Dar al-Iman, which proclaims its adherence to the Muslim Brotherhood’s philosophy. This fundamentalist organization promotes the establishment of Islamist governments and gave birth to Hamas, in Palestine.
The Islamic Development Bank gave $232,000 in order to facilitate the construction of the school. The school is also affiliated to the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), a Canadian charity that promotes the Muslim Brotherhood’s doctrine. The school’s Principal, Lazhar Aissaoui, is even one of MAC leaders. Besides taking care of its subsidized school in the Saint-Laurent borough of Montreal, MAC gathers money for funding various charities helping Muslim populations in distress.
Charities under Scrutiny
Among the charities financially supported by MAC, three groups have had to defend themselves in the past against allegations related to Islamic terrorism.
That is the case of Islamic Relief whose Canadian branch has received $108,000 from MAC in the last few years according to reports from Revenue Canada. The Canadian chapter has never been charged with anything. However Islamic Relief has branches around the world and its Filipino and Indonesian chapters have been listed as associates of Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and the Talibans by the United Nations.
In an immigration case that ended up in Canadian courts, CSIS agents have also mentioned the links between a foreign branch of Islamic Relief and the terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
American diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks also show how concerned is the State Department about this. In a cable, sent in 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton identifies Saudi charities that finance extremists. Their names have been censored in the Wikileaks version available on the web but according to The Wall Street Journal, Islamic Relief is among them.
Another diplomatic cable, sent in 2007, reveals that the State Department suspected a Saudi diplomat to be linked with terrorism because he requested the release from jail of militants belonging to Islamic Relief. To this day, Islamic Relief has vigorously denied any link with extremists.
Another group benefiting of MAC financial support is Human Concern International (HCI). MAC has given them $169,000 in the last ten years.
The organization has never been charged of anything in Canada. It has publicly denounced terrorism and reaffirmed that it is strictly committed to humanitarian work. But CSIS remains convinced that Human Concern International has collaborated with al-Qaida.
Documents linking Human Concern International to al-Qaida were brought in by CSIS in a court case involving Mohamed Harkat. CSIS considers this man to be part of bin Laden’s network.
Other motive for concern: Ahmed Said Khadr, a close friend of Osama bin Laden and the father of Omar Khadr, a Canadian detained in Guantanamo, has been a leader of the organization.
Mr. Khadr was killed in Pakistan in 2003. In 1995, while managing Human Concern International’s funds, he was arrested in relation to the bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan that had caused 17 deaths.
A Complaint Against CSIS
Offended for being linked to terrorism, HCI sent a formal complaint to CSIS review committee. The committee made of civilians asked CSIS to offer its apologies for unproven allegations. Sure of his sources, CSIS boss refused to apologize, as reported by Canadian Press.
International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN-Canada) is the third controversial organization being financed by MAC. It is suspected of being a cash cow for Hamas that is considered a terrorist organization by Canada. IRFAN-Canada received $297,000 from MAC in the last ten years.
In 2004, while being an Opposition MP, Stockwell Day asked the government to investigate on IRFAN-Canada that he described as a source of financing for Hamas.
This opinion is shared by American judicial authorities who mentioned IRFAN’s links with Hamas in a document that was submitted in court during a very publicized trial dealing with the financing of terrorism. IRFAN was listed among the “unindicted co-conspirators” in that case.
Like the other two groups, IRFAN denies all allegations of support to terrorism. The organization is suing Minister Day for defamation for 12 million dollars.
Checked by the Québec Department of Education
Made aware of the situation by Rue Frontenac, the Québec Department of Education checked its files and reassures that Dar al-Iman’s financial statements demonstrate that the public subsidies were spent in a proper fashion, for the education of children and nothing else.
“If we look at the last external audit report (2009-2010), no anomaly was detected. This audit was done in conformity with approved Canadian standards”, assure Esther Chouinard, a Department spokesperson.
She also stresses that the Department’s money is not given directly to MAC but to a corporation called Institut d’enseignement Dar Al-Iman (Dar al-Iman Teaching Institute). It was set up after civil servants started to worry because the school was given in its entirety to the Muslim Association of Canada based in Toronto (Pdeb: MAC headquarted in Ottawa)
“But the the audit of financial statements is not enough”, says David B. Harris, the former CSIS administrator.
“Here, the context, including the mission of the Muslim Brotherhood, raises questions regarding the reception and the redirection of government’s funds. Both governments, in Québec City and in Ottawa, should examine more carefully what certain Islamist organization’s objectives are, especially when money transfers are involved”.
MAC’s president, Sharaf H. A. Sharafeldin, answers that the organizations mentioned in this article have not been found guilty of anything in Canada. “We are aware of the allegations that you are bringing up (…) but it remains allegations unless competent authorities prove otherwise.” He added that the groups being financed by MAC are all legal registered charities and they have denied all the allegations targeting them in the past.
“In the history of Québec and Canada, there were many allegations against important political personalities. They were labeled communist, radical subversive and so forth. Later, the very same persons became leaders of political parties, of opposition groups and they set up a public health care system”, added Sharafeldin.