Canadian Islamist Groups Lose Charity Status Over Potential Militant Financing
Canadian authorities have stripped two former affiliates of the Islamic Society of North America’s Canada chapter (ISNA-Canada) of their charitable status after discovering financial ties between the Islamic organizations and a Pakistani militant group.
The two groups — ISNA Islamic Services of Canada and the Canadian Islamic Trust Foundation — lost their charity status for “non-compliance” following a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audit, according to records acquired by Canada’s Global News.
The CRA discovered several issues during the audit, including evidence that ISNA Islamic Services facilitated donations that may have ended up in the hands of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), a Kashmir-based militant group. According to the CRA report, the Toronto-based Jami Mosque raised and transferred funds to the ISNA Development Foundation “for remit” to the Relief Organization of Kashmiri Muslims (ROKM), a “charitable arm” associated with HM.
“Given the identified commonalities in directorship between ROKM and Jamaat-e-Islami and the Hizbul Mujahideen executive committee, concerns exist that the funds collected and disbursed as part of this relief fund may have been used to support the political efforts of Jamaat-e-Islami and/or its armed wing Hizbul Mujahideen,” the CRA said.
HM is designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union and India. In June, the US State Department put HM’s leader, Syed Salahuddin, on its terrorist designation list, citing his threats to train suicide bombers in Kashmir and HM’s responsibility for several deadly terrorist attacks.
This development comes four years after Canadian authorities revoked the ISNA Development Foundation’s charity status for similarly raising funds that may have reached militants in Kashmir. In July 2013, the Toronto Star reported that ISNA-Canada may have funneled $280,000 to ROKM.
The 2013 CRA audit found numerous issues within the ISNA Development Foundation, including missing documentation and misleading financial reports, and discovered that the group sent donations abroad to unapproved groups. The ISNA-affiliated organization engaged in these activities despite a stated purpose of serving the poor and needy in Canada.
A 2010 CRA audit found that ISNA-Canada itself misused more than $600,000 in donor funds.
A “very small portion … is distributed to the poor and needy and the major portion is spent on the administration of the centre,” the 2010 audit concluded. “Spending for personal expenses out of the charity’s funds is unethical,” the report’s authors wrote, saying that this was “tantamount to [the] misappropriation of funds.”