Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW)
|In their own words||“an international relief and development charity which envisages a caring world where people unite to respond to the suffering of others, empowering them to fulfil their potential.”|
- In 2018, total income was £127.9 million; total expenses were £128.6 million.
- Donors include European Union, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), Finn Church Aid, CARE International, Oxfam, Secours Islamique France, Islamic Development Bank, World Vision, Qatar Charity1, Action Aid, UNICEF, and UNDP. (See table below for further funding information.)
- According to the UN Financial Tracking Service, Islamic Relief Worldwide also received funding from Canada, Germany, and Sweden.
- In 2019-2020, Sweden granted Islamic Relief Worldwide $2.1 million for “Humanitarian support” in Gaza.
Funding Cuts to IRW
- In January 2021, the US State Department cut ties with IRW due to “anti-Semitism exhibited repeatedly by IRW’s leadership.”
- In January 2021, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation Sigrid Kaag “decided not to subsidize Islamic Relief Worldwide” based on information she received from other donor countries.
- In November 2020, the German Ministry of Interior cited IRW’s “significant connections” to the Muslim Brotherhood and announced that projects with IRW had ended.
- In August 2020, following the resignations of IRW board members due to antisemitic posts (see below), the Swiss Government “clearly distanced itself from such remarks and the person in question.” The Swiss Government further noted that the “FDFA is currently not engaged in any cooperation activities with Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW).”
- Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) is an “independent humanitarian and development organisation” that operates in over 40 countries.
- IRW is active in lobbying the United Nations. According to its website, IRW “regularly visits the UN Head quarters in New York to speak with Member States… offering them our expertise on humanitarian issues and faith sensitive approaches to complex topics” and “organises side events with UN agencies and Governments at global forums such as the Commission for the Status of Women, the High Level Political Forum, and the UN General Assembly.”
- In 2016, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, and Office of Personnel Management reportedly put together a criminal case relating to Islamic Relief’s ties to terrorism. As of August 2020, the investigations are still ongoing.
- In July 2020, Director and Trustee of IRW Heshmat Khalifa was forced to resign following an expose in The Times regarding his past antisemitic comments. According to The Times, Khalifa had “labelled Jews the ‘grandchildren of monkeys and pigs’ and called Egypt’s president a ‘Zionist pimp’.”
- In August 2020, the entire Islamic Relief Worldwide board resigned after its new chairman, Almoutaz Tayara, described Israel as the “Zionist enemy” and praised Hamas as “‘great men’ who were answering the ‘divine and holy call of the Muslim Brotherhood.’”
- In November 2020, IRW Network and Resource Development Director Tayed Abdoun was forced to resign after exposure of antisemitic comments he made. For instance, in 2015, Abdoun posted a picture on Facebook of a “knife with a thumbs up,” writing “Lay the bodies of the Jews on the top of the mountains, so that no dog in Palestine must suffer hunger.”
Ties to Terrorism
- On June 19, 2014, Israel’s Defense Minister declared IRW to be illegal, based on its alleged role in funneling money to Hamas, and banned it from operating in Israel and the West Bank. (Hamas is a designated terror organization by Israel, the U.S., EU, and Canada.) According to news reports, the decision was made after “the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the coordinator for government activities in the territories, and legal authorities provided incriminating information against IRW.”
- On December 12, 2014, IRW announced it had commissioned an “independent investigation” that found “absolutely no evidence of any links with terrorism” and that “not one of these many audits over many years has found a shred of evidence that Islamic Relief funds terrorism or has terrorist links anywhere in the world.”
- In a statement to the media, Israel’s General Security Service (Shin Bet) said it could not respond to IRW’s announcement “without an in-depth examination of [the audit’s] findings, its scope or who it was carried out by.” It claimed the Israeli government’s decision to declare IRW illegal was “based on information that has been accumulated over years, that the fund is a central player in financing of Hamas… [and] on accumulated knowledge and experience in fighting terror and financing of terror organizations.”
- IRW was a “founding organization” of The Union of Good. The Union of Good is designated as a terror organization by Israel and was designated by the US government as “an organization created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization.”
- IRW and Islamic Relief Germany (IRG) have ties to the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), an organization prohibited from operating in Germany due to its role in funneling money to terror groups. The German branch of IHH had a close relationship with Milli Görüs (IGMG), a “pan-European organization, which the German domestic intelligence agency claims is responsible for promoting extremist ideas and propagating antisemitic conspiracy theories.” (See below for further information on Islamic Relief Germany.) IHH is a member of the Union of the Good, an umbrella of 50+ Islamic organizations, which was designated by the US government as “an organization created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization.”
- In 2017, Bangladesh banned three Muslim aid organizations, including Islamic Relief, from working in the Rohingya refugee camps as a “preventative measure against potential radicalization in the camps.”
- In January 2016, the UK-based bank HSBC announced that it was ending all links to IRW, “amid concerns that cash for aid could end up with terrorist groups abroad.”
- According to a 2016 report by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, IRW is a “key organization” in providing “credibility” to the Muslim Brotherhood. The report also revealed that Haytham Rahmeh, an official of the Muslim Brotherhood, is a member of Islamic Relief Sweden, and noted that “[Rahmeh] has been involved in supporting militias linked to the Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian conflict, through lobbying and weapons purchases.”
- In 2014, the United Arab Emirates included IRW and IR-UK on a list of terrorist entities.
- In 2012, UBS Bank closed Islamic Relief Worldwide’s bank account due to concerns about counter-terrorist regulations.
- In 2006, IRW’s Gaza coordinator, Iyaz Ali, a Pakistani-born British national, was arrested and charged with transferring funds and assistance to “Hamas institutions and organizations, including the Al Wafa and Al Tzalah associations, which have been outlawed in Israel. He also admitted that he worked in Jordan and cooperated with local Hamas operatives.” The Israeli government statement also referred to documents “that attested to the organization’s ties with illegal Hamas funds abroad (in the UK and in Saudi Arabia) and in Nablus. Also found were photographs of swastikas superimposed on IDF symbols, of senior Nazi German officials, of Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as well as many photographs of Hamas military activities.”
- In 2005, Russian authorities accused IRW of supporting terrorism in Chechnya.
Islamic Relief Palestine (IRPAL)
- While in June 2014 Israel’s Defense Minister declared IRW to be illegal, based on its alleged role in funneling money to Hamas, and banned it from operating in Israel and the West Bank, Islamic Relief Palestine continues to operate in Gaza.
- Islamic Relief has received funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, European Union, Belgium, and Austria for projects in Gaza.
- Since 2006, IRPAL has cooperated with the Al-Falah Society. According to the Meir Amit Institute, the Al-Falah Society Charitable is one of “Hamas’s charitable societies.”
- Al-Falah is run by Ramadan Tanboura, who according to Haaretz is a “well-known Hamas figure.” According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Hamas held a reception for Tanboura “on his return from an eight-month fund-raising trip to the Gulf States. Senior Hamas figures also participated.”
- Tanboura has been photographed with Ismail Haniyeh, a senior leader of Hamas.
- IRPAL partners with the Gaza Zakat Committee (GZC), also known as the Islamic Zakat Society (IZS). IZS works closely with the Hamas government and is managed by Hamas preacher Hazem Al-Sirraj.
- According to Dr. Emanuel Schaeublin, a lecturer at the University of Zurich, GZC has ties to Fatah, the PFLP, and Hamas. Islamic Relief UK and Islamic Relief Canada are both directly named by IZS as its patrons.
- In May 2019, IRPAL published a tender for the “supply of computers and accessories for the preparation of the Bani Suhaila primary school for boys within the project of building and finishing a basic school for girls in Bani Suhaila Males in Bani Suhaila.” The Bani Shaila primary school is a part of the “Al kutla al Islamia”- the education wing of Hamas.
- The school has published photos on its Facebook account of teachers with Hamas scarfs.
- In 2006, IRW Gaza coordinator Iyaz Ali, a Pakistani-born British national, was arrested and charged with transferring funds and assistance to “Hamas institutions and organizations, including the Al Wafa and Al Tzalah associations, which have been outlawed in Israel. He also admitted that he worked in Jordan and cooperated with local Hamas operatives.” (See more on Ali above.)
- In October 2015, IRPAL Project Manager Ramez Obaid posted a video clip on his Facebook account that showed a Palestinian child throwing stones at an IDF vehicle, stating “May God bless you.”
- In August 2014, IRPAL Project Coordinator in Gaza City Tawfiq Dwaik glorified the terrorist Ali Nabil Basil (Abu Sahil). Abu Sahil was a terrorist in the Al Aqsa brigades who was killed during the 2014 Gaza war.
- In July 2014, IRPAL employee Mohammed Elsaleh posted a picture of the ID cards of kidnaped Israeli soldiers stating that “This is the lost card, O sons of Zion. God is great, praise be to God.”
- On April 7, 2018, as a member of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), IRW was a signatory on a statement “condemning Israel’s unlawful killing of civilians” during the Gaza-border violence and called for an “independent and transparent investigation into the killing and injuring of civilians in the context of peaceful demonstrations, and for those responsible to be held to account.” The statement ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
Islamic Relief Germany
- Islamic Relief Germany (IRG) was founded in 1996 in Cologne and has offices throughout Germany.
- In 2017, IRG, in partnership with Islamic Relief Palestine, spent €1.2 million on three projects in Gaza, including “improvement of access and quality of education,” “psychosocial support for children in Gaza,” and “improvement of preschool education.”
- In January 2017, Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors announced it was investigating IRG for a “potential misuse of the aid money.”
- In November 2016, Chief of the Berlin Senate Chancellery Christian Gaebler responded to a written question about Islamic Relief’s “Islamist” connections, stating that “Islamic Relief Germany has connections to organizations surrounding the Muslim Brotherhood.”
- In 2016-2018, German blogger Sigrid Herrmann-Marschall (Vorwaerts und Nicht Vergessen) wrote several articles about IRG accusing the group of funneling funds to Hamas and having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. In response, IRG filed a complaint in the regional court of Cologne and the Supreme Court. In 2016, IRG sued Hermann-Marschall and lost its case.
Islamic Relief Australia
- In 2012, IR Australia took a delegation of 22 Muslim leaders from Australia to Gaza. During the trip they met with senior Hamas officials, including Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas’s political chief, former Prime Minister); Ismail Radwan (Hamas’s spokesperson); and Marwan Abu Ras (Hamas MP), who was heavily involved in organizing the 2018 violence along the Israel-Gaza border. During this trip, IR Australia donated $1 million to IR Palestine.
- Ibrahim El-Zayat, the current director of IR Australia, has alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Islamic Relief Canada
- According to IR Canada, “The Organization has agreements with IRW to implement programs as directed by IRC. Although IRC is an independent organization, IRC is economically dependant [sic] on IRW due to the significant level of contractual agreements between them including the shared usage of the “Islamic Relief” brand. During 2017, IRC executed several international charitable programs through IRW with a net value of $27,831,823 (2016 – $16,177,520)” (emphasis added).
- In 2014, the Financial Post included Islamic Relief Canada as one of their “charities of the year” but subsequently removed the group from its list stating that “since its international arm has been banned elsewhere (though not in Canada) for allegedly funneling funds to the terrorist organization Hamas.”
- Several staff members, including the founders of IRW, have alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. IRW also has personal and professional ties to other organizations that are banned from operating in a number of countries, either due to links to terrorism or suspected funneling of money to terrorist organizations.
- Hany El-Banna is the founder of Islamic Relief Worldwide. In a 2016 interview with Al-Aqsa Voice, the official radio station of Hamas, El-Banna discussed the long history of involvement of IR in Gaza and its work with the Gaza Zakat Committee, a charitable organization regulated by Hamas.
- Essam El-Haddad, co-founder of Islamic Relief Worldwide and former trustee of Islamic Relief Worldwide and Islamic Relief-UK, was a senior Muslim Brotherhood official and the National Security Advisor to Egyptian President Morsi. El-Haddad has been in custody and in solitary confinement since the overthrow of Morsi in 2013.
- According to Egyptian law enforcement, El-Haddad used Islamic Relief to finance the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
- Ahmed Al-Rawi, former director of IRW, is the former head of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) and President of the Muslim Association of Britain, both of which are “considered to be part of the European Muslim Brotherhood.” According to a 2005 interview, Al-Rawi stated that FIOE and Muslim Brotherhood are “interlinked…with a common point of view.”
- In 2004, Al-Rawi signed a declaration that supported terrorism in Iraq and Israel by calling for support for the “honorable resistance” in those countries. The declaration states, “[The signatories] call on our Arab and Muslim peoples and all religious authorities and liberation forces everywhere to oppose the occupation and savage crimes in Iraq and Palestine, by providing all kinds of material and moral support to the honourable resistance … until God’s victory comes.”
- Issam Al-Bashir is the former director of IRW, the former Minister of Religious Affairs in Sudan, and a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure. Bashir is a member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), a group led by Yusuf Qaradawi, a Global Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader who has called for the killing of Jews and homosexuals.
- ECFR is considered to be an umbrella organization for Muslim Brotherhood’s religious opinions in Europe.
- Abdul Wahab Noorwali is a former trustee of IRW and the Assistant Secretary General of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY).
- WAMY has distributed several books, among them a 1995 booklet “The Difference Between The Shiites and the Majority of Muslim Scholars” in both English and Arabic. The booklet claims that Jews conspired to create division within Islam, and planted the “Jewish ideas,” which became Shi’a Islam. The author claims, “The Jewish conspiracy (among others), represented by Abdullah Bin Sabaa, first influenced Muslims who were less knowledgeable about Islam and later on, spread to the rest of the Muslim community.”
- Ibrahim El-Zayat, the current director of Islamic Relief Australia, has alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Additionally, El-Zayat serves as the European representative of WAMY.
- In 2002, German federal police launched an investigation of Zayat. A leaked report claimed Zayat transferred more than $2 million on behalf of WAMY. According to the report, Zayat sent some of that money to an Albanian charity called Taibah, which was designated a terrorist organization by the US government in 2011. The report concluded claiming that “The constellation of accounts, money flows and persons indicate that the accounts in Germany of Ibrahim El-Zayat and Ayman Sayed Ahmed Aly were used for carrying out fundamentalist Islamic activities in Europe.”
- Adnan Abdul Rahman Saif is a trustee of IRW and a trustee of the Muath Trust, a Yemeni charity based in the UK with ties to Muslim Brotherhood. He is a supporter of the late Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar, who was the leader of the Al-Islah, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Islamist party in Yemen and a supporter of Hezbollah.
- Member of Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA).
- In 2017, launched a campaign titled “#OpenGaza 50 Years Of Occupation. 10 Years Of Illegal Blockade” stating that “collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza must end” and that “Gaza is an open air prison.”
- In August 2015, AIDA launched a campaign to “highlight the displacement of Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” The campaign included a press release of 31 international organizations calling on “world leaders to take urgent action to halt ongoing demolitions and hold the government of Israel accountable for the wanton destruction of Palestinian property and of projects funded by international aid in the occupied West Bank,” as well as two infographics on “Displacement and Replacement…Separating Palestinians Across the West Bank” and “20 Years of Talks- Keeping Palestinians Occupied.”
2015-2020 Grants Received (amounts in £ unless otherwise noted)
|Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)||45,000||75,000||76,830|
|United Kingdom (Department for International Development)||1,331,138||1,541,494|
|Secours Islamique France||1,840,760||2,218,274||1,986,041||1,832,681|
|Save the Children||486,677|
|Islamic Development Bank||1,369,683||4,211,542||888,516|
|World Vision Germany||3,156||66,230|
|Catholic Relief Services (CRS)||20,824||44,643|
|International Rescue Committee UK||262,726||952,046|
|Lutheran World Federation (LWF)||25,491|
- The Qatar Charity was named by Osama bin-Laden as a financier of Al-Qaeda.
All Articles about Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW)
- How the United Nations Indirectly Funds Hamas Beniamino Parenzo, The Times of Israel, July 13, 2016
- Funding Terrorists Kyle Shideler, The Washington Times, November 29, 2014
- Kidnapped Israeli Teens Compel Scrutiny of Hamas's International Finances Matthew Levitt, The New Republic, June 24, 2014