The Obama administration recently gave a $270,000 grant to an Islamic charity that has been banned by Israel and the United Arab Emirates because of alleged financial ties to the terrorist group Hamas and to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided the funds last month to the U.K.-based Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) for its work in Kenya, according to the federal spending database USASpending.gov.
The funds are earmarked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s global health security partner engagement initiative.
The program is aimed at fighting infectious diseases and promoting “global health security as an international priority,” according to the CDC website.
But IRW has been at the center of other security concerns.
In 2014, Israel and United Arab Emirates banned IRW, which is headquartered in Birmingham, England, from operating within its borders alleging that the group supports and funds Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s military arm in Palestine.
Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon alleged in July 2014 that IRW’s chapters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were being run by members of Hamas.
“The IRW is one of the sources of Hamas’s funding and a means for raising funds from various countries in the world,” Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon said in a July 2014 statement. “We do not intend to allow it to function and abet terrorist activity against Israel.”
In 2006, the Israeli Security Agency arrested Iyaz Ali, a Pakistani-born British national who worked as project director of IRW’s operations in the West Bank.
“He worked to transfer funds and assistance to various Hamas institutions and organizations, including the Al Wafa and Al Tzalah associations, which have been outlawed in Israel,” reads a 2006 statement from Israel’s defense ministry. Ali also admitted that he had worked and cooperated with Hamas operatives in Jordan.
“The IRW provides support and assistance to Hamas’s infrastructure,” the statement continued, alleging that IRW’s operations are “controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives.”
“The intensive activities of these associations are designed to further Hamas’s ideology among the Palestinian population.”
In Nov. 2014, United Arab Emirates added IRW to its list of designated terrorist organizations. HSBC, the London-based bank, also severed its relationship with IRW, citing the alleged terror ties.
IRW has strongly denied any associations with Hamas or terrorist activities. The Obama administration has favorably cited the group’s work on international relief issues. IRW is also allied with numerous other foreign governments and large philanthropies.
Mauro also noted that more than 50 members of Congress support new legislation labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. One supporter of the measure if Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.