KindHearts indeed. “Muslim charity drawing scrutiny: Group with Ohio ties denies terror connection,” from the Plain Dealer, with thanks to Cindy:
American Muslims were stunned after 9/11 when the U.S. government accused their three largest charities of financing terror groups and shut them all down.
For many Muslims, it was dismaying enough to learn that some of their money may have been used for nefarious purposes. But they also faced a practical problem: how to pay “zakat,” the 2.5 percent annual “income tax” that all Muslims are supposed to donate to charity.
Eventually a group of Toledo Muslims filled the void by forming a new charity, KindHearts, whose mission is to support needy Palestinians in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. Today, it’s one of the largest Muslim charities in the country, collecting more than $4 million a year in donations.
But this very success has helped to intensify government scrutiny.
Last year, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee listed KindHearts as one of 25 Muslim nonprofit groups under investigation for suspected links to terror groups. That inquiry ended quietly, but Justice Department sources say the 25 groups are still being watched.
Terrorism analyst Steve Emerson, meanwhile, singled out KindHearts in testimony this year before the Senate Banking Committee. He outlined half a dozen connections – some strong, others not – between KindHearts and terror groups or radical Islam.
KindHearts flatly denies any involvement with terror.
Jihad Smaili, a Cleveland attorney who represents KindHearts and sits on its board of directors, dismissed Emerson as a “witch hunter” who falsely connects all Muslim charities to terrorism. Smaili said the charity has taken great care to keep its money out of terrorists’ hands.
Yet KindHearts has two clear links to the three shuttered charities. Smaili’s brother Khaled, a fund-raiser for one of them, is now chief executive of KindHearts.
And the endowment director of another closed charity, Mohammed El Mezain, worked under contract for KindHearts until he was indicted on charges of conspiracy, aiding a terrorist group and money laundering.
Read it all.