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A Muslim outreach group with ties to the White House is distancing itself from a Canadian organization that shares its name following revelations that the Canadian group may have funded Pakistani jihadists.
The Canadian Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) sent $280,000 to a Pakistani organization that the Canadian government says has terror ties, according to an official investigation first reported by the Star.
The Canada Revenue Agency audited ISNA-Canada’s Development Foundation (IDF) and found the charity “facilitated the transfer of resources that may have been used to support the efforts of” Pakistani separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, as well as the extremist group’s “armed wing.”
The latest news led ISNA-America to preemptively distance itself from the controversy.
“We at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) are saddened and disturbed by news of alleged misappropriation of funds by our namesake organizations in Canada,” the group said in a July 26 statement that sought to “clarify” any “confusion.”
ISNA-Canada and its development foundation are separate from ISNA-America and its foundation, the group maintained.
“It is important to note that the leadership and management of both of these organizations in Canada are separate from ISNA and its IDF (a department of ISNA), registered in the United States,” the group said. “There has been no links of authority or responsibility between the United States and Canadian organizations for a few decades despite the similarity of names.”
ISNA went on to state that it hopes “the government investigation of our namesake Canadian organizations will soon conclude with whatever action that may be needed to restore the confidence of Canadian citizens in the worthiness of their charitable work.”
The IDF in Canada could lose its tax-exempt status following the government’s revelations that money designated for Pakistan’s Relief Organization for Kashmiri Muslims (ROKM) fell into the hands of militants.
While the charity’s acting president maintained to the Star that the money “did not go to any groups who were freedom fighters,” Canadian authorities said the IDF had no control over how its money was spent.
Photographs purporting to show ISNA relief workers in the region had been doctored, according to a forensic laboratory report included in the CRA’s audit.
A total of $535,611 was sent by the IDF to organizations that the CRA deemed “non qualified donees.”
When confronted by Canadian investigators, “IDF failed to provide the requested documents,” according to the CRA audit obtained by the Star. “IDF’s directors agreed that there were no written agreements in place and that the money had been provided to ROKM ‘free and clear’ with ‘no strings.’”
The CRA said “it is very clear that Canada’s commitment to combating terrorism extends to preventing organizations with ties to terrorism from benefiting from the tax advantages of charitable registration.”
The news from Canada has led to new scrutiny of ISNA-America, which critics say is too close to the White House of President Barack Obama.
ISNA officials visited the White House in March. A top outreach official said the group was his “primary means of outreach to the American Muslim community.”
“ISNA's founders and their families had the opportunity to visit the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House and take a tour led by ISNA Majlis Ash Shura Member Asma Mirza,” according to an email the group sent to supporters after the powwow.
While at the White House, ISNA leaders “met with numerous White House officials who have been engaging with the American Muslim community for years,” according to the email.
“The meeting was organized and hosted by Paul Monteiro, associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, who has been actively reaching out to the American Muslim community through ISNA since the Obama administration began in 2009,” the email stated. “He shared resources with the founders and gave examples of ways to engage with the White House.”
“Mr. Monteiro also cited ISNA as his primary means of outreach to the American Muslim community and thanked the founders for all the work they did to support ISNA and fulfill the needs of their community for over 50 years,” the email said.
Monteiro did not respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment.
David Reaboi, vice president for strategic communications at the Center for Security Policy, said ISNA has long been associated with the current administration.
“Since taking office in 2009, the Obama administration has all but stopped prosecuting this kind of material support for jihadist terrorists abroad,” Reaboi said. “Again, we see Canada's government take the terrorist threat more seriously than our own.”
ISNA was listed by the Department of Justice as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a case surrounding the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a Muslim charity that was shut down by the federal government for funneling money to Hamas terrorists.
There is also evidence that ISNA provided up to $170,000 in seed money for the Islamic African Relief Agency, which the U.S. Treasury Department designated as a terror entity in 2004 due to its direct support for Osama bin Laden and Hamas, according to reports.
ISNA-Canada sparked controversy in 2008 when it attempted to feature Qazi Hussein Ahmad, a bin Laden confidante, as a speaker at its convention.
ISNA did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment about the controversy.