Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) is an international Islamic aid organization that classifies its work into seven distinct sectors:
Sponsor an Orphan: Initiated in 1986, this program aims “to contribute towards alleviating child poverty in the world’s poorest communities … through a comprehensive and integrated one-to-one orphan sponsorship program.” As of August 2006, IRW indicated that it had sponsored a total of 17,240 orphans.
Disaster Preparedness and Response Unit: IRW “maintains stockpiles of life-saving supplies for over 10,000 disaster survivors.” These supplies include water distribution kits, tents, blankets, household cooking supplies, and hygiene items. “We are ready to ship these items within three days of a major disaster striking anywhere in the world,” says IRW. In addition, the organization maintains a roster of relief workers who can be dispatched from in its offices around the world; these include emergency coordinators, health workers, finance managers, water engineers, sanitation specialists, construction specialists, logisticians and administrators.
Education and Training: This program “aims to provide impoverished people and communities with access to education or vocational training — providing a way out of the poverty trap.” It distributes school equipment; educates women in health and hygiene; organizes educational programs; constructs new schools and rehabilitates war-damaged schools; provides literacy classes and vocational training courses for adults; and furnishes schools and universities with computers, books, and other resources.
Emergency and Relief: “War, floods, earthquakes, drought and famine claim millions of lives worldwide every year. … Whether the emergency is natural or man-made, [IRW] tends to the immediate needs of its victims by distributing food, medicine, tents and clothing, while assessing what long-term reconstruction can be undertaken.”
Water and Sanitation: “[O]ver one billion people worldwide have no access to safe drinking water, and almost half the world’s population lack adequate sanitation. … Water-related diseases account for 2.2 million deaths each year, mostly among children under the age of five.”
Health and Nutrition: This program focuses on “increasing food security within poor communities; providing adequate nourishment and pre-natal care to pregnant women; raising health and nutrition awareness amongst mothers; immunizing children against common diseases; [and] improving water and sanitation facilities.”
Income Generation: This program “provides training and Islamically acceptable loans enabling people to earn a better living, either by running small businesses or by seeking well-paid employment.”
The countries where the foregoing programs are active include Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Chechnya, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Lebanon or Sri Lanka, Sudan, and South Africa.
IRW was established in England in 1984 by Dr. Hani Al-Banna, who remains its President to this day. Al-Banna is a former trustee of Muslim Aid (MA), a global charity based in London. While Al-Banna was associated with MA, the group was a “partner organization” to the Al-Salah Islamic Association, a Gaza-based entity that the U.S. Treasury Department designated as a “Key Support Node” for the terrorist group Hamas. (MS Director Ahmed Al-Kurd was also designated by the U.S. government as a “terrorist.”) Moreover, while Al-Banna was involved with MA, the group was a partner to organizations directly related to the Muslim Brotherhood of Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).
In 1999, IRW’s main office (in England) received $50,000 from a Canadian group that the U.S. Treasury Department called “a bin Laden front.” According to Moscow’s Obshchaya Gazeta, IRW has collected and funneled millions of dollars to the Chechen terrorist rebels in Russia, who also have ties to al Qaeda.
Jehangir Malik, now working out of IRW’s Landoor Street, United Kingdom office, was formerly the Program Coordinator for IRW’s American branch, IR-USA. While based in IR-USA’s Burbank, California office in May 1999, Malik was a featured speaker at an event sponsored by the Muslim Youth of North America.
In May 2006, 36-year-old IRW operative Iyaz Ali, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, was arrested by the British General Security Services (GSS) in cooperation with the police Gideonim Unit. At his GSS interrogation, Ali admitted that he had been working as a project coordinator at IRW’s Gaza branch since December 2005. His activities included assisting Hamas-related institutions and groups such as Al Wafa and Al Tzalah, both of which are officially illegal in Israel. He also admitted that he had worked in Jordan and cooperated with local Hamas operatives there.
According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Incriminating files were found on Ali’s computer, including documents that attested to the organization’s [IRW’s] ties with illegal Hamas funds abroad (in the UK and in Saudi Arabia) and in Nablus. Also found were photographs of swastikas superimposed on IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] symbols, [as well as photos] of senior Nazi German officials, of Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as well as many photographs of Hamas military activities.”
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affair adds: “The IRW provides support and assistance to Hamas’s infrastructure. The IRW’s activities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip are carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives. The intensive activities of these associations are designed to further Hamas’s ideology among the Palestinian population. These associations’ educational and religious institutions incite against the State of Israel and advocate terrorist actions against it and its citizens. The associations provide support to the families of terrorists who were wounded in actions against Israel, and to Hamas prisoners and detainees. These associations thus promote Hamas’s goals including the destruction of the State of Israel.” As a result of these assessments, Israel has issued a ban on IRW.
Similarly, the government of United Arab Emirates (UAE) has added IRW to its official list of terrorist organizations.
The aforementioned Islamic Relief-USA was incorporated in 1993. In addition to its California headquarters, it also maintains regional offices in Totowa, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Plano, Texas. The Registered Agent for its incorporation was Kazbek Soobzokov, the former attorney for terror operative Wajdi Ghunaim, who in 2006 called for violence against Jews, was deported from the United States, and was refused entry into Canada after it was discovered that he was a member of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
On October 19, 2011, IR-USA was one of 57 organizations to co-sign a letter that Farhana Khera, executive director of an Islamic group called Muslim Advocates, wrote to Barack Obama’s then-Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (and later CIA director) John Brennan. The letter demanded that Obama officials “purge all federal government training materials of biased materials”—that is, materials that they claimed were biased against Islam—and “implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI agents, U.S. Army officers, and all federal, state and local law enforcement who have been subjected to biased training.” (Joining Islamic Relief USA as signatories were such groups as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.) The Obama Administration immediately complied with the letter’s demands. Dwight C. Holton, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, emphasized that same day that training materials for the FBI would be purged of everything that Islamic supremacists deemed offensive: “I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated.”
The current chairman of IR-USA is Khaled Lamada, who has also served as co-chairman of the national convention that the Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim American Society run jointly each year.
At the end of 2014, Britain’s HSBC bank cut ties with IRW over concerns about “terrorist financing.”