A number of Muslim organizations operating within the United States have ties to international terrorist organizations – and some of them are financing their nefarious activities in the U.S. and abroad.
In a previous interview with OneNewsNow, Middle East expert Cliff Smith expressed his concerns about theocratic groups operating within the United States and South Asia. These included Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and the International Circle of North America (ICNA), “the face of [JeI] in the West.”
When Congressman Jim Banks (R-Indiana) introduced a resolution condemning JeI in all its forms inside the U.S., it also called out that group's "bad acts" in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Kashmir, says Smith. The resolution essentially states that the U.S. and its allies should not treat the organization as a legitimate political actor, he adds.
One organization that concerns Smith is Helping Hands Relief and Development (HHRD), which he indicates can be recognized as “ICNA’s self-described sister organization” – or simply ICNA’s international charitable wing. According to the director of the Middle East Forum's Washington Project, HHRD has been openly arranging conferences with organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for quite some time.
“[LeT] is a jihadist group in the Kashmir region that was responsible for the Mumbai attacks of 2008, which killed 160 people,” Smith explains – adding that outside of the Middle East, he considers this series of orchestrated attacks to be “one of the more horrific attacks that has happened in the world since 9/11.”
On top of that, as of 2017, HHRD has been funding at least 214 projects with the Al Khidmat Foundation (AKF), which Smith describes as JeI’s "charitable arm in South Asia.” While AKF’s public reputation may be deemed charitable, Smith says “it essentially buys support from the local populace” – a tactic used by nearly every terrorist group in the world, he adds.
“HHRD is openly working with and carrying out misdeeds alongside these groups,” he tells OneNewsNow.
As potential investigations loomed nearer, something troubling was discovered during the process of co-sponsors being sought for the Banks’ bill. With names withheld, Smith tells OneNewsNow that some members of Congress were being “attacked” for supporting the bill. He reports it didn’t take long to identify the culprit.
“[It was] a large umbrella group called InterAction which was founded in the 80s for international charitable organizations – [and] among the international aid charities that fit under their umbrella is none other than Helping Hands,” he reveals.
InterAction formed the Together Project – “one of the explicit purposes of [which] is to defend five specific Islamic charities from what they call religious discrimination,” Smith continues.
He wonders why several other InterAction charities that are also Islamic aren't part of the Together Project – then answers his own question: "The reality is that it’s not about religious discrimination, if you take a close look.” He argues that while it may not be their sole purpose, these organizations are actually “terrorist finance charities – [and] one of them is Helping Hands.”
“The Together Project, along with HHRD, was going around lobbying on Capitol Hill, attacking the Banks’ bill, and attacking anybody who said anything negative about Jamaat-e-Islami or Helping Hands," the former congressional staffer shares.
Basically what has been revealed is what Smith calls “another version of the 'Steele Dossier.'” Perkins Coie, the large international law firm that indirectly commissioned Christopher Steele, had written a letter “ripe with misinformation” to Congressman Banks and other members of Congress for merely requesting an investigation into some of the terror finance links concerning HHRD. Smith describes that five-page memo as "a lie" that was meant to discourage Congress from investigating these links – and adds that “the most charitable thing you could possibly say about it is that it’s one of the most cleverly worded obfuscations in history.”
But there’s political motivation, the Washington Project director points out. Multiple individuals in leadership positions of ICNA and HHRD were previously leaders in other branches of JeI abroad. So, of course the conference with LeT was decried as false and there was an effort to “scare off people” from criticizing JeI.
In Smith's view, these efforts do not curtail the fact that some Muslim organizations operating within America's borders have ties to terrorist organizations around the world. Therefore, he argues, JeI in all its forms within the U.S. must be condemned.
“And if a U.S. organization is holding conferences in a terrorist-ridden part of the world and cannot control who randomly walks in, including multiple terrorist organizations [like LeT], we have a problem – and Congress ought to want to investigate that,” Smith concludes.