Canada Suspends, Fines Islamic Organization for Allegedly Funding Kashmir Militant Group
The Canada Revenue Agency has suspended the Islamic Society of North America-Canada for allegedly funding groups linked to terrorist organizations like the Hizbul Mujahideen.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has suspended and fined a top Canadian Islamic organization for allegedly providing resources that may have been used for armed militancy in India’s Kashmir region.
The CRA suspended Mississauga-based Islamic Society of North America-Canada (ISNA-Canada) for a year starting Sept. 12 and ordered it to pay a C$550,000 penalty.
The charity had “failed to conduct any meaningful due diligence” when it transferred C$136,000 to the Kashmir region, which may have been used to fund the activities of Pakistan-based political organization Jamaat-e-Islami and/or its armed wing Hizbul Mujahideen, the Canadian government auditors who audited the accounts of ISNA-Canada said, Globalnews.ca reported.
The CRA wrote in its report that by acting as a “conduit” for other organizations, ISNA-Canada “may have, knowingly or unknowingly, provided the benefits of its status as a registered charity to support the efforts of a political party and its armed wing,” according to the publication. “It is the CRA’s view that the society’s resources may have, directly or indirectly, been used the support the political efforts of Jamaat-e-Islami and/or its armed wing Hizbul Mujahideen,” the report added, citing CRA documents.
While the Charities Directorate has not revoked ISNA-Canada’s charity status, the organization will have to agree to “cease its overseas operations” to continue to run its operations.
The report cited CRA audit documents to say that between 2007 and 2009, ISNA-Canada “gifted” C$90,000 to the Relief Organization for Kashmiri Muslims (ROKM). The CRA has earlier called the ROKM the “charitable arm” of Jamaat-e-Islami, whose armed wing, Hizbul Mujahideen, is listed as a terrorist group in India, Europe, and the United States. The CRA also revealed that ISNA-Canada provided an additional C$46,000 to the Kashmiri Relief Fund of Canada, which has previously raised funds for the ROKM.
While the audit was conducted in 2011 and covered the years between 2007 to 2009, the results were conveyed to ISNA-Canada in 2014. However, the CRA took the action against the organization on Sept. 5, 2018.
“Providing resources to organizations operating in support of a political purpose, including the achievement of nationhood or political autonomy, are not recognized at law as charitable,” the CRA wrote in its report, according to the publication.
“We are saddened by this outcome,” ISNA-Canada said in a written statement, it added.
“We remain politically impartial and are not in any way linked to any political or extremist group,” the organization said. “We will continue our operations and remain committed to always striving to be the best possible organization we can be in service to Canadians.”
ISNA-Canada operates mosques and provides services like Islamic weddings and funerals.
While it remains suspended, it won’t be able to issue receipts that allow donors to claim their contributions for income tax benefits.
“A suspended organization will continue to be listed on the CRA’s list of charities, with a notice advising the public that the charity is suspended. Once a suspension has been lifted, a charity can begin to issue official donation receipts,” CRA spokesperson Dany Morin was quoted as saying in the report.
The suspension and penalty are the latest in a string of federal audits of four former Islamic charities, all based in Mississauga. Last year, the CRA scrapped the charitable status of ISNA Islamic Services of Canada after raising concerns about the possible routing of funds in support of Hizbul Mujahideen. In 2013, ISNA Development Foundation, and the Canadian Islamic Trust Foundation were removed from the charity list over similar concerns.