The documents being released as part of the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial continue to unlock past mysteries regarding the US. Muslim Brotherhood, this time identifying what might have been a phone scam designed to provide financial support for terrorist organizations. A 1994 announcement by the Florida-based Muslim Education Foundation explains its program to raise money:
Muslim Education Foundation (MEF) is a non-profit organization that is established for providing Islamic education in America. MEF is introducing a new concept of fund raising, “Contribute without Donating”. Dr. Jamal Badawi describes it: “It is a means of pooling together muslim’s purchasing power in order to earn an income that can be used to help the muslim community in North America. Your risk is next to nothing, while the potential benefit is immense.” Our first project is a contract to switch muslims’ long distance services to MCI. MEF will get back 5% of the long distance bill at NO COST to you,….The money collected will be spent on local and national Islamic projects under the supervision of MEF boards. MEF has on its boards trusted scholars and community leaders.
The announcement goes on to identify the MEF Board as:
Maulana Muhammad Naseem
Mohammad Akram Adlouni
Most of the names, most prominently Badawi and Adlouni who are most likely members of the Brotherhood Shura Council in the U.S., show up in the various documents which have been released making it probably that the MEF project was, in fact, a project of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. The fact that Akram (Adlouni) and Jamal Said show up in a phone list of members of the Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee in the U.S raises the further possibility that the project was somehow intended as a mechanism for the covert financing of Hamas.
The connection between MEF and terrorism is further supported by a Florida newspaper that reported in 2004 on its review of the tax-returns since 1996 for the Benevolence and Global Relief Foundations, identified as nearby Bridegview Illinois, home of the mosque headed by Jamal Said (see list of names above) which under his leadership had itself been linked to terrorism financing. The newspaper report indicated that the MEF, and Ammar Charani, had been major donors to both groups:
Major corporate donors for the charities have been the International Charity Network of Winter Park and two affiliated entities, MEF Marketing Inc. and the Muslim Education Foundation. Ammar Charani, whose family runs the phone, telemarketing and internet companies, said much of the money was raised from a long-distance calling program that allowed customers to designate up to 5 percent of their monthly bills to the charities of their choice.
Both Benevolence and Global Relief have been designated by the U.S Government as terrorist organizations in connection with the funding of Al-Qaida. It is not clear if any MEF funds were allocated to other organizations and/or causes or whether the U.S. Brotherhood members were still on the MEF board in 1996, the start of the time period from which the charities’ tax returns were examined.
According to an MEF announcement in 1993, the MCI program was instituted but MEF became unhappy with MCI and switched to a promotion of a similar program with AT&T indicating that only 700 members had been accepted by MCI into the program. The announcement also made clear MEF’s more ambitious plans:
With 150,000 members Muslims will generate $7,020,000 per year for their local and national projects. The initial reaction of the organizations, centers, and individuals has been very positive and one of enthusiasm. We as a Muslim community in North America, can reach this target easily by each one of us joining this program and taking it as his/her responsibility to sign up 10 or more of his Muslim brothers or sisters. “Allah will support those who support His cause”
It is not clear whatever happened to the program but Florida state records show that the MEF continued to operate until 2002. The phone program follows the Muslim Brotherhood pattern of using deceptively described charities as a means to support terrorist causes. In 2004, a Federal court found the innocent-sounding Quranic LIteracy Institute liable in connection with the funding of Hamas. The fact that the U.S Brotherhood was originally supporting a program that provided ended up providing funds for Al-Qaida related charities requires further analysis.