UBS Closes Islamic Relief Bank AccountBy
The U.K. blog Civil Society is reporting that the U.K.-based charity Islamic Relief has recently had its bank account close by UBS in connection with counter-terrorism concerns. The report does not make clear if the closure applies to the Islamic Relief Worldwide and/or its U.K. subsidiary:
| Niki May Young | 8 Nov 2012 Islamic Relief has recently had its bank account closed by UBS, and is under constant scrutiny by other banks due to nervousness about counter-terrorist regulations, the charity’s director of finance told an audience of international charity regulators yesterday. Islamic Relief, a charity launched in the UK 30 years ago with an income now over £80m annually, has both incoming and outgoing transactions stopped on a daily basis either temporarily or permanently, said Haroun Atallah, who is a former auditor. Having worked for Islamic Relief for 19 years, Atallah says things changed significantly for international charities after the September 11 attacks. He says for charities like Islamic Relief and others working in Gulf regions scrutiny is particularly high: ‘Charities like us were put in a situation where you had to explain yourself at every juncture, way beyond what any other charity had to do.’ He says that regulations preventing the movement of funds under the guise of anti-terror methods, are also preventing relief funds reaching those who need it on the ground. The Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental body, sets recommendations for banks and financial institutions. These influence banking policy and some banks are ‘going over the top in their reaction’, Atallah said. One such example he offered was UBS, which not only closed Islamic Relief’s account, but blocked donations coming from its customers to the charity. Atallah told civilsociety.co.uk that the charity had opened an account with the bank in July this year with the intention of using it for donations from high net worth individuals. But by August the charity hadn’t yet activated it and was then contacted to advise the account would be closed down. At that time, Atallah said, Islamic Relief did not think it was being targeted. But when it was advised in September by UBS customers that their donations to the charity had been blocked by the bank, Islamic Relief realised it had been black-listed. Islamic Relief was offered no explanation by UBS for the blocks. Despite writing to the managing director of the Swiss bank, only a ‘bland response’ advising the action was in line with UBS policy was received.
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Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) is headquartered in the U.K. and its chairman of the board is Essam El-Haddad who was recently appointed as one of four Egyptian Presidential assistants with responsibility for foreign relations and international cooperation. Dr. El-Haddad is a U.K-trained physician and long-time Muslim Brotherhood member who was appointed to the Guidance Bureau in February 2012, later becoming responsible for Foreign Relations on behalf of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. A post from earlier this month reported that Dr. El-Haddad was one of two of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s closest advisors that are employed by a Mideast consulting firm with U.S. owners. Another IRW trustees is Ibrahim El-Zayat, a leader in both the European and the German Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. El-Zayat is also a trustee of the U.K. branch of Islamic Relief. Islamic Relief Worldwide is also listed as a company in the U.K where records indicate that Dr. Ahmed Al-Rawi, the former head of the Federation of islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) and President of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) has been a director at one time. Both FIOE and the MAB are part of the U.K. and European Muslim Brotherhood. Another former director of the company Islamic Relief Worldwide is Issam Al-Bashir who, as previous posts have discussed, is a former Minister of Religious Affairs in the Sudan and who has held numerous positions associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood. In a number of European countries, the local branch of Islamic Relief is also tied to the local Muslim Brotherhood organization. In May 2006, the Israeli government announced the arrest of an IRW worker for activities related to supporting Hamas and said that IRW activities in the Palestinian territories ” are carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives.’” It should also be noted that according to a NEFA Foundation report, Islamic Relief was one of the founding members of the Union of Good, described as a “coalition of Islamic charities that provides financial support to both the Hamas ‘social’ infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities.” The Union of Good is headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi and most of the trustees and member organizations are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood.
A post from August 2011 reported that Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), the U.S. subsidiary of IRW, had a “collaborative partnership” with the USDA’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and that IRUSA has pledged to host 50 sites as part of a Michelle Obama initiative. In the past, the IRUSA website identified Dr. Yaser Haddara as a member of the IRUSA board since 2006 and its chairman until May 2011. According to his profile, Dr. Haddra has been active in the Muslim Society of America (MAS), the Islamic Society of North America, and the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC). Previous posts have discussed the relationship between Islamic Relief USA and the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, an Islamic charter school with strong connections to the Muslim American Society (MAS). The MAS was established in 1993 by leaders of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and a Hudson Institute report has discussed the relationship of the MAS to both the Egyptian and U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. The same Hudson report also identifies ISNA as an important part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Other posts have explored the Muslim Brotherhood ties of the MAC.
RadicalIslam.org has posted an article titled “Islamist Adviser to the State Dept and USAID Exposed” which examines the CEO of Islamic Relief USA and his appointment to a State Department Working Group.