The Trouble With Muslim Charity


Inviting Americans to convert, Osama bin Laden says Islam requires no tax, just a 2.5% tithe to Allah. What he doesn’t say is much of those funds benefit terrorists like him.

The shocking truth is that Islamic religious giving — called “zakat,” the third pillar of Islam — supports terrorism. And millions of the blood money is donated by American Muslims through mosques and various charities once considered mainstream.

Since 9/11, U.S. counterterrorism authorities have had to put a whopping six major Muslim charities out of business, including the biggest — the Holy Land Foundation. All have been blacklisted as fund-raisers for terrorist causes. Several others operating in the U.S. have been raided or closed.

The media have kept the scandal quiet due to cultural sensitivities. What little reporting there’s been has sided with Muslim leaders, who maintain the charities benefit worthy humanitarian causes. They claim funds never were intended for terrorists, if indeed any found their way into their hands.

But federal prosecutors tell a different story. They say that while some of the charitable donations did go to worthy causes, they mainly acted as cover for the true beneficiaries — jihadists.

Take the Holy Land Foundation. The Justice Department says at least $12 million of the $50 million raised in the U.S. by the charity went directly to terrorism. The Treasury Department designated the foundation a terror group in December 2001.

Now Justice is prosecuting as terrorists the Muslims who ran the charity. Many have personal ties to leaders of Hamas. A verdict in the case is expected soon.

Prosecutors have presented secret video footage and other evidence that casts doubts on claims the Muslim community was in the dark about how donations were used. Turns out that in its fund-raising tours, the Holy Land Foundation put on skits with Hamas leaders at American mosques and Islamic conferences celebrating the slaughter of non-Muslims in jihad. In one videotaped skit, a defendant is seen pretending to kill an Israeli.

“At many of the fund-raising events, the speakers performed skits and songs which advocated the destruction of the state of Israel and glorified the killing of Jewish people,” according to the federal indictment. They also sang songs in praise of Hamas.

Muslim Americans weren’t repulsed by the blood lust. On the contrary, they opened their wallets, pouring millions into the charity’s coffers.

It’s striking that even in the face of mounting evidence that their charities have acted as fronts for terrorist activities, the Muslim community hasn’t expressed outrage. Instead, they’ve protested the government’s shuttering of their charities as an Islamophobic witch hunt.

The Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas has drawn Muslim picketers outside the courtroom. Muslim leaders complain it’s having a chilling effect on Muslim giving. They say it’s a Muslim’s duty to give zakat donations to brothers in need (even though the U.S., EU and U.N. already devote hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the humanitarian care of Muslim families truly in need in the West Bank and Gaza alone).

In response, Treasury has held forums in large Muslim communities informing Muslims and Arabs how to avoid donating to terror-funding charities. But they’ve attracted little interest. One recent forum held in Detroit, which was heavily advertised, attracting only 45 people, most of whom were government agents and Muslim lawyers for Islamic charities raided by the agents. The concerned average Muslim citizen was by and large absent.

A congressman and homeland security adviser to Rudy Giuliani recently remarked: “There are too many mosques in this country. There are too many people who are sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more carefully.” Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, took a lot of heat from Muslim activists for the comment.

Sweeping as it was, perhaps he has a point. Do we really know what kinds of activities are conducted in these tax-exempt sanctuaries? Or where the millions in tax-deductible donations raised there go? Until we start digging deeper, we just may be sanctioning an asymmetrical war-fighting funding mechanism under the guise of religious tithing.

October 10, 2007 | 4 Comments »

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