Nearly $15 million of Canadian charitable donations were sent overseas to groups the taxman has labelled terrorist organizations, according to a federal audit obtained by the Toronto Star. The audit states that International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy Canada (IRFAN-Canada) used “deceptive fundraising” to support Hamas. The Canada Revenue Agency announced its decision to revoke the status of the Mississauga-based charity last week. A lawyer for IRFAN-Canada said the charity has appealed the decision. “Canada Revenue Agency’s position is really built on a pillar of sand,” said Naseer Syed. However, a CRA report states that “IRFAN-Canada is an integral part of an international fundraising effort to support Hamas.” Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Canada, the U.S., the European Union and Israel. IRFAN-Canada created promotional videos that the CRA said “demonize Israel, characterize the Arab-Israeli conflict as a religious war, appeal for all Arab and Muslim nations to join in the struggle against Israel and glorify martyrdom.”
But Syed said the CRA overstated the political content. “As the promotional videos feature the potential recipients of humanitarian aid – the needy families affected by poverty, disease and war – discussing the poverty in Gaza in the immediate postwar period, it is difficult to imagine that the videos would not contain some political content.”
The decision to revoke the group’s status comes after years of tax audits and litigation over its alleged ties to Hamas. An audit of the charity’s 2002 fiscal year found that IRFAN-Canada “maintained partnerships” with organizations that have direct ties to Hamas. The most recent audit, from Jan. 1, 2005 until Dec. 31, 2009, reveals that IRFAN-Canada gave $14.6 million to 15 organizations that have ties to Hamas. They include the Gaza Ministry of Health, which the CRA said has been under Hamas control and direction since March 2006. Though Hamas does deliver social and humanitarian services, the CRA said those actions cannot be distinguished from the group’s terrorist activities.
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- A 2004 a report of the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, close to Israeli military intelligence, that described IRFAN/Canada as part of the worldwide Hamas fundraising network.
- The the organization was one of the original members if the Union of Good, a coalition of Islamic charities that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities and headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi.