Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW)


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
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.”


Funding Cuts to 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.”
    • Following the offensive and antisemitic social media posts, the Charity Commission launched an investigation. According to the Commission, “All three individuals have themselves acknowledged that their conduct was unacceptable and have issued apologies. All parties have cooperated fully with the Commission. The Commission reviewed the charity’s response to these comments and is satisfied that it took swift action, including to condemn the comments and ensure all three individuals left their roles, which the individuals did of their own accord. None has any ongoing involvement with the charity.”In January 2021, the Charity Commission closed the case.
  • In September 2022, IRUSA was a signatory on a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemning the decision by Israel to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to the letter, “Sadly, for more than a decade, we have witnessed the erosion of civic space as Israeli authorities target and repress individuals and organizations that support Palestinian civil society. These actions run counter to the democratic values the Israeli government purports to support…[we] call on the U.S. to publicly reject these unsubstantiated designations and to not restrict the ability of these CSOs to continue their operations.”

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)

Islamic Relief Germany

Islamic Relief Australia

Islamic Relief Canada




2018-2021 Grants Received (amounts in £ unless otherwise noted)

Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)99,000229,00045,000
United Kingdom (Department for International Development)37,583,00036,314,00026,672,000
European Commission15,00015,000638,430
Finn Church Aid18,00068,00055,000
Secours Islamique France1,840,760
Save the Children429,0001,021,000498,000486,677
Islamic Development Bank1,369,683
Qatar Charity1,083,370
World Vision Germany90,000264,0003,156
Catholic Relief Services (CRS)1,0008,00020,824
HelpAge International5,744
CARE International UK339,000132,000
Stichting ZOA120,000275,000421,000277,583


  1. The Qatar Charity was named by Osama bin-Laden as a financier of Al-Qaeda.

All Articles about Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW)

Further Reading