Justin Trudeau addresses ISNA Canada event in July.
Credits: ISNA Canada Facebook page
TORONTO - The Canada Revenue Agency has revoked the charitable status of an Islamic group after it says it distributed over $280,000 to an agency allegedly linked to a terrorist organization in Pakistan.
The CRA announced Friday it will strip the Islamic Society of North America Canada’s Development Foundation of its charitable status.
After a nearly two-year-long audit of its books, the CRA said it found evidence linking the group to an organization that funds a terrorist organization in Pakistan.
“The Government of Canada has made it clear that it will not tolerate the abuse of the registration system for charities to provide any means of support to terrorism,” a press release from the CRA said.
In a 71-page “letter of revocation,” complete with flow charts which illustrate the alleged link between the Canadian group and the Pakistani terrorist group, the agency lays out its case against ISNA.
The CRA audited ISNA’s books for two years between Jan. 1, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2009. Transactions during that time showed a “funding arrangement” between the group and the Kashmiri Canadian Council/Kashmiri Relief Fund of Canada. That group would send money to the Pakistani-based Relief Organization for Kashmiri Muslims. That group is the charitable arm of Jamaat-e-Islami, a political organization which supports the overthrow of India’s government through the activities of the Hizbul Mujahideen, the CRA release said.
Hizbul Mujahideen is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and government of India, the CRA said.
Officials with ISNA Canada did not respond to calls and e-mails requesting comment Friday.
But in a July 26 statement on their website, they dispute preliminary findings made by the CRA, calling them “speculative allegations.”
The group says it sent money to Kashmir to help orphans and the needy. It chided another newspaper report for an July story that relied on CRA correspondence that said the money sent by the group “may” have been diverted to terrorists but offered no proof.
“We think it is unhelpful to cast aspersions about support for militant groups on a charity and the law abiding citizens that it serves based on pure speculation,” the statement says.
The ISNA’s American parent organization referred the Toronto Sun to a statement released earlier this year, which distances it from the Canadian branch.
“There has been no links of authority or responsibility between the United States and Canadian organizations for a few decades, despite similarity of names,” the statement said.
Having its charitable status yanked will mean ISNA Canada can no longer issue donation receipts for income tax breaks. The group is also no longer exempt from income tax and may be taxed for the full value of its assets.
In July, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was a guest speaker at a ISNA Canada event. A request for comment to the Liberal Party was not returned by press time.
At the time, Trudeau was slammed by the Muslim Canadian Congress for accepting the invitation.
But Trudeau isn’t the only politician to have addressed the group. In 2008, then multiculturalism minister Jason Kenney praised ISNA Canada at an event. He told the group he looked forward to “a closer dialogue between the Government of Canada, the Conservative Party of Canada, and the Muslim community in general, ISNA in particular.”