A recent poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs reveals a remarkable trend in Americans’ views on the use of foreign aid to reshape and rehabilitate America’s image abroad. Just consider these three statistics:
92% of Americans believe it is important to combat world hunger
72% of Americans believe that helping poor countries develop their economy is a measure that can assist in combating terrorism
70% of Americans believe that the government should not support humanitarian aid programs operated by Muslim charities
Taken together, these findings are reflective of the immense challenges of post-9/11 terrorist financing policies regarding the charitable sector, specifically, Muslim American charitable organizations. In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the earthquake in Kashmir the following year, Muslim American aid agencies were some of the most efficient in delivering aid to the devastated populations. Former President Bill Clinton visited a health project run by Islamic Relief Worldwide and praised the organization’s work in conjunction with the U.N. and other agencies. It is heartening that the White House and the Department of Treasury have begun re-engaging the charitable sector as well as Muslim American organizations, including MPAC, to develop a framework to address the policy and implementation issues which hinder aid from being delivered to its intended targets.
The MPAC statement also cited a recent speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said:
Recognizing that many Americans want to continue to make philanthropic contributions to charities abroad, the President has asked us to work with the American Muslim community, devoted to the sacred of obligation of zakat, to develop safe and effective ways to facilitate humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations, while ensuring that charitable contributions are not diverted to support those who promote violent extremism.As the blessed month of Ramadan approaches, the Muslim American community is ready to be a resource so that the President’s words in Cairo this past June and Secretary Geithner’s remarks in Saudi Arabia will be realized in Washington, D.C., and will benefit vulnerable populations around the world.
In December 2008, the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) were convicted on all counts of terrorism financing charges for helping to fundraise for Hamas. The HLF was the largest Palestinian charity in the U.S. and was intimately associated with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood whose organizations consistently supported HLF throughout the two trials. One of the groups consistently assaulting the HLF prosecution was “Hungry for Justice, a coalition of U.S Muslim Brotherhood and allied organizations that includes MPAC as an “observer organization.”
MPAC is an organization founded in Southern California in 1988 and was previously known as the Muslim Pubic Action Committee of the Islamic Center of Southern California. Playing an important role in its founding was MPAC “Senior Adviser” Mather Hathout, an Egyptian physician and immigrant who most likely was imprisoned in 1965 for playing a role in the Muslim Brotherhood at that time. Since its founding, MPAC has continued to act in concert with other U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations such as CAIR while at the same time enjoying a favored position with the U.S. government.