Wednesday, April 30, 2014

IRFAN-Canada declared a 'terrorist organization' by Canadian government

It is a very rare moment indeed for this space to document anything, any policy or initiative taken by the Harper government, with which we agree. However, when it moves  boldly to declare what looks like a papier-mache philanthropic that really raises money for terrorism in the Middle East ineligible for charitable status, and then moves to have the RCMP investigate the organization for allegedly moving some $14+ millions of Canadian dollars offshore into terrorist activities, we applaud heartily.
Any even remote support for organizations like Hamas, especially by a Canadian front, must be both exposed and shattered.
Dubbed the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN Canada)*, few would have suspected its real purpose. And Canadians, by and large, are modestly generous and supremely detached from the nefarious purposes and organizations that support those purposes, such as Hamas.
While it seems like a non-story perhaps to the rest of the world, if this kind of activity can and does occur in Canada, there is no country that can consider itself immune from such activity.
Recall, it was just last week that Hamas and Fatah declared a truce and agreed to work together to achieve common goals, one of which ( at least for Hamas) has been the destruction of Israel. It has been Hamas rockets that have rained down on Israeli citizens; it has been Hamas initiatives to secure weapons and military support from those willing to support them in their efforts to obstruct the peace negotiations with Israel.
And while Canada has historically taken the position of the 'honest broker' in negotiations between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israel, the Harper government has openly and somewhat blatantly decided that it supports Israel in this situation. Whether that position is supportive, in the long run, for Israel, only time and the unfolding of events will tell.
Today, however, IRFAN Canada, (even the name suggests that it likely has headquarters in other countries) finds its wings "clipped" and its future in some jeopardy, under at least the cloud of an RCMP investigation.
Now, if the Harper government would also move to re-open the Canadian Embassy in Teheran, so that we could participate in finding and reporting information from Iran that could and would serve the interests of the world's leading powers in their effort to discontinue Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, we would have another opportunity to bear witness to the Canadian government's actions on the international stage.
Clearly, by contrast with the IRFAN initiative, sending 6 F-18 jets into Romania, in support of NATO's efforts in the Ukrainian crisis, as the Canadian government did yesterday, is not only useless, but perhaps even foolhardy, given the clear and unequivocal call for serious and deeply cutting sanctions against Putin and his cronies as the only way to "hurt" him and perhaps bring him back from his misguided attempt to strut Russian hegemony while the west rejects military action in Ukraine.

*Ottawa hit a Canadian charity for Palestinian aid with a double blow Tuesday, declaring it a terrorist organization and launching an RCMP “terrorist financing investigation” that included a wide-ranging search operation at its Mississauga and Montreal offices.
The moves came a week before the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN-Canada) was to launch a Federal Court appeal against a Canada Revenue Agency decision to revoke its charitable status because of alleged links to Hamas and failure to keep adequate records.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs welcomed the actions, saying “all Canadians should be alarmed that millions of dollars were raised in Canada to support a foreign terrorist group with a long record of suicide bombings and other attacks against civilians.”
But Yavar Hameed, an Ottawa lawyer for IRFAN-Canada, said the allegations were “vague and unsupported,” and appeared unconstitutional. There was “no specific instance (given) of money being used for terrorist purposes.”
Hameed also questioned the timing of the moves against IRFAN. “We were preparing to appeal on IRFAN’s charitable status, and they could have been reinstated,” he said. “Now they are saddled with this and the government has shifted the train massively.”
On Tuesday Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced that the group was listed as a “terrorist entity” under the Criminal Code. “Between 2005 and 2009 IRFAN-Canada transferred approximately $14.6 million worth of resources to various organizations associated with Hamas, a listed terrorist entity,” said a statement from his office.
It said that IRFAN’s actions “meet the legal threshold set out in the criminal code,” that it “knowingly participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity.” (By Olivia Ward, Canadian Muslim charity listed as “terrorist” organization, Toronto Star, April 29, 2014)

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