THE Government of Canada just announced it has listed IRFAN — the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy-Canada (IRFAN-Canada) — as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code. IRFAN lost its charity status in 2011 after the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) found it transferred approximately $14.6 million to various organizations associated with Hamas.
Hamas is a terrorist entity renowned for its rabid anti-Semitism and brutality toward other Palestinians who do not share its views. It has also murdered and severely injured Canadian citizens.
The IRFAN terror listing correctly recognizes the centrality of terror funding as integral to, and in fact indistinguishable from, the more lethal operational dimensions of the terrorist industry. As noted by Terry Davies, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe: "Terrorists seldom kill for money, but they always need money to kill."
IRFAN is not the only Canadian charity to lose its charitable status for its funding of, or relationship to, radical Islamist organizations. In 2012, Canada revoked the charitable status of the World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY). In its decision, the CRA explained WAMY was sharing a bank account with groups under sanction by the UN as entities belonging to, or associated with, al-Qaida. Then, in 2013, Canada revoked the charitable status of the Development Foundation of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). One reason for revocation was ISNA’s funding of the Jamaat-e-Islami, whose armed wing, Hizbul Mujahideen, is considered a terrorist entity by the Council of the European Union and the Indian government.
These cases provide an important insight into the broader fabric of terror funding and radicalization both in Canada and abroad. The IRFAN case has pulled on a particularly significant thread connecting IRFAN, WAMY and ISNA to the Muslim Brotherhood. Known in Arabic simply as the Ikhwan, the organization is headquartered in Egypt but moved its HQ to London, England, in 2013. It has a presence in over 70 countries and has been one the most prominent incubators of radicalization in the Islamic world. The Brotherhood is currently under investigation in Britain for its "alleged links to violent extremism." Although the Brotherhood and its supporters have always claimed the Ikhwan is a moderate and democratic organization, critics point to its history of violence, its incitement against the Copts and its endorsement of suicide bombings and Hamas as indicating "moderation" is just one tactic among others, including violence.
It is therefore not inconsequential that senior members of the Brotherhood were among the founders of IRFAN and WAMY, that ISNA is one of the oldest Brotherhood organizations in North America, or that IRFAN also has other historical ties to the Brotherhood. As noted by the CRA, IRFAN was deliberately set up to circumvent the Canadian government’s earlier refusal to grant charitable status to the Poverl Jerusalem Fund for Human Services (JFHS), which was also founded to support Hamas. The JFHS was closely related to the Holy Land Foundation in the U.S., an organization that was the subject of the largest terror funding trial in U.S. history. The trial exposed the extensive involvement of Brotherhood affiliates in the material support of terrorism both in North America and elsewhere.
All this also shines some light on the libel suit recently launched by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and PMO spokesman Jason MacDonald, after MacDonald publicly noted NCCM’s "documented ties" to Hamas.
NCCM was formerly known as CAIR-CAN or the Council of American Islamic Relations-Canada. Its U.S. parent, CAIR-USA, was originally established by the Muslim Brotherhood and later designated by the U.S. Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case, meaning it might have been suspected but was never charged with an offence. One of CAIR-CAN’s founding directors was also an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial, which pertained to the illegal funding of Hamas. Not coincidently, Hamas is defined in its charter as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. So despite the current denials by NCCM of any connection to the Brotherhood-affiliated CAIR-USA, the two organizations have extensive historical ties, with both groups having made repeated claims in the past that they are connected to each other.
But the domestic implications of the Brotherhood’s influence in Canada go beyond funding terror abroad and the NCCM lawsuit. The mission of the Brotherhood in the U.S. and Canada is hardly benign. According to the Ikhwan’s "1991 Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America," the Brotherhood’s "civilizational jihad" in North America is focused on "eliminating and destroying the western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house."
Canadians will undoubtedly take umbrage at classifying Canada as a "miserable house" slated for destruction but are unlikely to be overly preoccupied with Canada becoming a caliphate any time in the near future. But there is every justification to be concerned with Muslim Brotherhoodaffiliated organizations such as Young Muslims in Canada that actively promote the hate-filled diatribes of individuals such as Sayyed Qutb. Qutb is a Brotherhood icon and martyr, whose monographs against unbelievers were instrumental in laying the ideological foundation for the violence of so many Islamist terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida.
Young Muslims of Canada, the youth wing of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), also references the works of Brotherhood figures such as Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. The latter is quoted on the website, urging martyrdom: "…prepare for jihad and be the lovers of death… May Allah grant myself and yours the honour of martyrdom in His way!"
Such promotion of self-destruction or the destruction of others is a fundamental Canadian concern that cannot be dismissed as a cursory symptom of someone else’s war. Radicalized Canadians have murdered others and have been killed themselves in "martyrdom operations" abroad, promoted by men such as Qaradawi and Qutb. They also present a real danger here in Canada. The CSIS has reported 130 Canadians abroad were believed to be involved in "extremist activities" and is keeping an eye on 80 such individuals who have returned to Canada from foreign theatres of jihadic violence.
Canadian authorities have rightly expressed alarm. It took only 19 hijackers holding similar views to usher in the 9/11 era.
While the listing of IRFAN is a commendable step forward, it must now be followed by a more comprehensive review of like-minded organizations. Canadians, in the meantime, should keep an eye on the NCCM lawsuit. Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of CAIR-CAN/NCCM, has stated in a CBC interview with Evan Solomon that CAIR-CAN/NCMM is not afraid of the scrutiny that will come with the lawsuit. In that respect, those who remain unconvinced of the Brotherhood’s "moderation" and peaceful intent would certainly concur that enhanced scrutiny of the Brotherhood and its affiliates in Canada is to be roundly applauded.
Danny Eisen is a co-founder of the Canadian Coalition Against Terror (C-CAT). Tom Quiggin is a court expert on terrorism with more than 25 years of experience in intelligence matters.