GOP Senators Press IRS To Revoke Tax-Exempt Status of 'Palestine Chronicle' Nonprofit Tied to Hamas Hostage Taker

'While Aljamal may have played a journalist by day, the evidence clearly suggests he was, at minimum, a Hamas collaborator,' letter says

Sen. Ted Budd (R., N.C.) (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
June 12, 2024

A coalition of senators on Wednesday petitioned the IRS and other federal law enforcement agencies to launch an investigation into the Palestine Chronicle, alleging the nonprofit outlet violated its tax-exempt status by routinely publishing a Hamas hostage taker, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Led by Sen. Ted Budd (R., N.C.), the six senators say the little-known outlet violated American anti-terrorism laws by employing Abdallah Aljamal, a Gazan journalist who was killed over the weekend when Israeli forces discovered several of their hostages in his family’s home. Israeli military officials confirmed to the Free Beacon earlier this week that Aljamal was actually a Hamas affiliate, and reports show that he was writing for the Palestine Chronicle during the time he imprisoned Israeli civilians.

"We urge the IRS, in coordination with other law enforcement agencies, to investigate the extent of the Palestine Chronicle’s knowledge of Abdallah Aljamal’s connections to Hamas and publishing of his stories while he held hostages, and to the greatest extent of the law, revoke the tax-exempt status of this organization that employed an individual who committed these violent, illegal, and terrorist acts," Budd and his colleagues wrote, according to a copy of the letter exclusively obtained by the Free Beacon.

Lawmakers like Budd, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have taken a great interest in the Palestine Chronicle and its nonprofit parent company, the People Media Project, since the Free Beacon first reported on Monday about its links to Iranian regime-controlled propaganda sites. The outlet’s editor in chief, Ramzy Baroud, wrote for two now-defunct websites that the U.S. government seized in 2020 for being part of a propaganda network controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). At least six of the outlet’s writers also wrote for these IRGC-controlled sites.

Following Aljamal’s death during an Israeli raid in Gaza to free the hostages, the Palestine Chronicle published a glowing obituary, claiming its writer was just an innocent civilian trying to perform journalism. As Budd and his colleagues note in their letter, however, Aljamal "previously served as a spokesman for the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Labor in Gaza."

"While Aljamal may have played a journalist by day, the evidence clearly suggests he was, at a minimum, a Hamas collaborator, if not a full-time terror operative, responsible for keeping hostages captive," according to the letter, which is also backed by Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), Rick Scott (R., Fla.), Pete Ricketts (R., Neb.), and Roger Wicker (R., Miss.), the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

With questions now swirling about the Palestine Chronicle and its editor Baroud, the senators say a multi-pronged federal investigation is necessary to determine if the outlet and its parent company were "actively employing an individual with apparent ties to and support for Hamas." The Palestine Chronicle downplayed its ties to Aljamal in a Monday piece, saying Aljamal "was a freelance writer who contributed articles to the Palestine Chronicle on a voluntary basis, mostly since the start of the Israeli genocide in Gaza."

"It is possible that this tax-exempt media outlet had no knowledge of its correspondent’s Hamas affiliation; however, given the organization’s recent attempts to cover up evidence of its ties to Aljamal, this seems unlikely, making them complicit in supporting terrorist propaganda on their platform," the senators wrote.

The lawmakers also instructed the IRS to "prepare a report on the findings of this investigation for the [Senate] Finance Committee to review in the appropriate venue."

Budd, in comments to the Free Beacon, said he was thoroughly disturbed to learn that an American nonprofit had direct ties to a Hamas hostage taker.

"Hamas is a foreign terrorist organization that has American blood on their hands and still holds Americans hostage," he said. "The potential link between this publication and Hamas terrorists should be more than enough justification for the IRS to open an investigation into their tax-exempt status in the United States. If the terrorism links are proven and substantiated, this status should be immediately revoked."

Rep. Jason Smith (R., Mo.), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a similar letter to the IRS on Monday, indicating that GOP lawmakers from a host of relevant committees in both chambers seeking to ensure the Palestine Chronicle and its parent company have their tax-exempt status stripped.

Baroud is additionally affiliated with foreign think tanks, including the Istanbul-based Center for Islam and Global Affairs. That group is run by Sami Al-Arian, a vocal Israel critic who pleaded guilty in 2006 to providing material support to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a designated terror group.

Baroud’s daughter, Zarefah, works for American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the Free Beacon reported Tuesday. A leading anti-Israel group that is driving pro-terrorism protests on college campuses, AMP is also being sued for providing "substantial assistance to Hamas." Zarefah also has connections to several other U.S.-based groups known to traffic in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and disseminate anti-Israel propaganda.