The Islamic terrorist group Hamas has resumed fundraising in Canada through a front organization that offers charitable tax receipts to donors, an activist group stated earlier this week.

The International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy, IRFAN-Canada, has taken over for the defunct Jerusalem Fund for Human Services as Hamas’ fundraising arm in Canada, according to the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD).

However, a spokesman for the organization denied the allegations. “We have nothing to do with the Jerusalem Fund,” said Rasem Abdel-Majid, IRFAN-Canada’s general manager. “This is an international relief [agency]. We have no connections to anybody.”

Abdel-Majid also rejected suggestions the group supports Hamas. “That’s not true,” he said. “I want [CCD] to come out with proof of that.”

CCD called on the federal government to freeze IRFAN’s funds, prosecute the people behind it and explain how an organization with clear links to the Jerusalem Fund could have obtained the right to issue tax receipts for donations that ultimately benefit the banned terrorist organization Hamas.

“It really makes you wonder what the CRA [Canadian Revenue Agency] is doing when they grant charitable status to a group whose linkages to a banned organization in Canada is so transparent,” said Alastair Gordon, director of communications for CCD.

Naresh Raghubeer, CCD’s executive director, said only “gross incompetence” could explain how federal authorities permitted the Jerusalem Fund to re-emerge and do business in Canada under the IRFAN brand. He said IRFAN-Canada uses the same address and fax number as the Jerusalem Fund.

A search of the Internet by The CJN quickly uncovered the link. A website catering to Muslim students and another geared to Muslim entrepreneurs provided contact information for the Jerusalem Fund. The fund’s mailing address in Mississauga and its fax number were identical to the ones advertised on IRFAN’s website.

Other IRFAN offices are located in Ottawa and Montreal. IRFAN claims to support charitable work and its Ramadan pledge card says funds it raised would help the hungry, injured, homeless, destitute, the poor and the needy.

The Jerusalem Fund also operated as a charitable organization. However, National Post reporter Stewart Bell noted in an article earlier this year that the Jerusalem Fund was one of four front groups named in a secret Privy Council Office memo that was sent to then prime minister Jean Chrétien on May 23, 2000. The memo discussed groups that were linked with terrorism.

Raghubeer said CCD relied on research conducted in Israel by the Centre for the Study of Intelligence and Terror (CSIT) to draw the links between IRFAN and Hamas.

A summary of a CSIT document circulated by CCD stated, “IRFAN (formerly the Jerusalem Fund) is the goal-oriented fund of the Hamas movement in Canada that raises and send funds to support the social infrastructure of the movement in the ‘territories.’ This infrastructure, which is funded by money from Canada and other places in the world, assists Hamas to build itself as a replacement for the Palestinian Authority and to bring into existence a structure that supports terror.

“Although during this period of an international fight against the financing of terror and despite the fact that the Canadian authorities identified the Jerusalem Fund as supporting Hamas, the Jerusalem Fund continues its activities under the new form of IRFAN.”

The report notes that the Jerusalem Fund was created sometime around 1991 and “transferred to Hamas institutions in the territories yearly aid estimated at many hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The leaders of the Jerusalem Fund decided around late 2001, early 2002 to change the name of the organization to IRFAN. The report suggests these unnamed “people of the Jerusalem Fund felt that the noose was tightening around them” due to the increased anti-terrorism focus of the Canadian government. The change “was meant to mask its connection with Hamas and to impede Canadian law enforcement to bring charges against them.”

The report also claims IRFAN’s main office is in east Jerusalem and it is headed by a known Hamas operative.

Israeli researcher and journalist David Bedein, who was scheduled to join CCD at its news conference this week, along with Conservative Party foreign affairs critic Stockwell Day, said CSIT is a highly regarded Israeli intelligence think-tank.

He said his own research highlighted links between the Jerusalem Fund and the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led organization of foreign volunteers who act as “spotters,” reconnaissance agents and couriers for Palestinian terrorists.

In addition, he has researched the connection between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which receives Canadian government funding, and Hamas. The terrorist group has taken over labour unions, teachers’ associations and other elements of civil society that operate in UNRWA camps, and even uses the camps as bases from which to attack Israel, Bedein said.

Canadians are supporting Hamas both through government allocations and through voluntary donations which are tax-receipted, he added.

This piece ran in the November 26th, 2004 edition of the Canadian Jewish News