A Canadian Islamic organization which lost its charitable status and was subsequently listed by Public Safety Canada as a terrorist group for transferring over $14 million worth of resources to various organizations linked to Hamas between 2005 and 2009, is fighting to be removed from the terror list.
In an application filed with the Federal Court on February 24, 2017, International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy-Canada (IRFAN-Canada) is requesting the Minister of Public Safety to de-list the organization as a terrorist entity and to be awarded the costs of the application.
IRFAN-Canada claims that it did not “directly or indirectly” assist Hamas, its humanitarian work did not constitute association for terrorist purposes, and the original designation as a terrorist entity which it considers to be unreasonable and unconstitutional, is without merit.
Public Safety Canada describes Hamas as a radical Islamist-nationalist terrorist organization which uses political and violent means to pursue its goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in Israel and which has been responsible for several hundred terrorist attacks against both civilian and military targets.
Liberal MP Omar Alghabra (Mississauga Centre), who serves as the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, has said unequivocally that Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the global Muslim Brotherhood movement, is a “terrorist organization.” When asked during the debate in Parliament “Does the member [Omar Alghabra] believe that Hamas is a terrorist organization?”, Alghabra said the following (February 18, 2016): “Mr. Speaker, that must be a planted question. Our government put Hamas on a terrorist list. We believe Hamas is a terrorist organization until it gives up terrorist activities and joins us in our call for peaceful dialogue and consultations to reach a peaceful resolution to the two-state outcome that we would like to achieve.”
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), which serves as the main advocacy group for the Canadian Muslim community, also calls Hamas a terrorist organization. In an official video posted on May 26, 2014, NCCM responded to the “false accusations” directed at NCCM by Jason MacDonald, PMO’s Communications Director, by clarifying among other things the following: “NCCM has and continued to consistently and categorically condemn terrorism and violent extremism regardless of who perpetrates it, including naming terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Hamas and al-Shabab.”
In 2008, the Superior Court of Justice directed IRFAN-Canada to provide Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) with all its books and records relating to donations, which it opposed on the grounds that the documents were not relevant and were protected by common law privilege. That same year, court documents released during the trial and conviction in the United States of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development on terrorist financing charges named IRFAN-Canada on a list of unindicted co-conspirators considered to be “entities that are/or were part of the Global Hamas financing mechanism”.
In 2010 CRA conducted a second audit of IRFAN (the first one was conducted in 2004). During the course of the audit, CRA advised IRFAN of its intention to suspend its donation receipting privileges based on a “persistent pattern of partnerships and associations with organizations” which had “some” or “numerous” ties to Hamas, among them the Orphan Care Society in Bethlehem (which received $124,832) , Jenin Zakat Committee ($27,460), Islah (Reform) Society ($23,490), Toulkarm Zakat Committe ($18,820), Qalqilia Zakat Committe ($22,746), Nablus Zakat Committee ($22,038) and Islamic Charitable Society of Hebron ($38,927). In addition, during a visit to IRFAN’s Mississauga office, CRA obtained a number of promotional fundraising videos which contained images and commentary “intended to be supportive of Hamas messaging”, such as glorification of martyrdom and demonization of Israel.
The audit also found that IRFAN, which was gifting to non-qualified donees and lacked direction and control over its resources, was in “serious non-compliance” with the core requirements of the Income Tax Act and was carrying activities contrary to public policy.
On April 9, 2011, CRA announced its decision to revoke IRFAN’s registration as a charity, a decision influenced by information it acquired from an investigation alleging IRFAN’s involvement in supporting and funding Hamas. CRA concluded that IRFAN misrepresented its fundraising efforts by soliciting donations for earthquakes in Indonesia and Pakistan and cyclones in Bangladesh and Burma, which were co-mingled and distributed to recipients in the West Bank and Gaza.
In 2013, IRFAN filed an injunction against CIBC to restrain the bank from ending its relationship with the organization, which was denied by the Federal Court.
On April 24, 2014, on the recommendation of the Attorney General of Canada, IRFAN was added to the list of terrorist entities and its assets and property frozen based on the Government of Canada’s findings that it provided $14.6 million to operating partners that were either run by Hamas, openly supported and provided funding to Hamas, or have been listed by various jurisdictions because of their support for Hamas or other terrorist entities.
In 2016, Rasem Abdel Majid, IRFAN-Canada’s principal, made a request for de-listing the organization from the terror list, which was denied by the Minister of Public Safety.