Non-profit

Islamic Relief USA

Website:

irusa.org/

Location:

ALEXANDRIA, VA

Tax ID:

95-4453134

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $143,988,489
Expenses: $150,398,532
Assets: $44,711,691

Formation:

1993

President:

Anwar Khan

Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) is the independent American branch of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), one of the largest Islamic charities in the world. [1] IRUSA supports charitable efforts around the world “guided by the timeless values and teachings provided by the revelations contained within the Qur’an.” [2] Most of IRUSA’s charitable efforts are targeted around alleviating poverty, especially in refugee communities, areas of conflict, and areas facing national disasters. [3]

IRUSA has faced allegations of alignment with the Muslin Brotherhood, an Islamist extremist organization. In 2017, former IRUSA chairman Khaled Lamada was found to have displayed insignia supporting the Muslim Brotherhood on his personal Facebook page. [4] In 2019, the German government was investigating whether IRW affiliates in that country were tied to the Brotherhood. [5]

IRUSA also has historic connections to several openly anti-Semitic individuals. Lamada himself has posted several anti-Semitic comments on his personal Facebook page and circulated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. [6] Moreover, former IRUSA east coast operations manager Yousef Abdallah published a story on Facebook in 2014 romanticizing “martyrs” who provided guns to “kill more than 20 Jews” in Gaza. [7] Abdallah’s further posts referred to Jews as “stinking,” and Abdallah liked a comment on one of his posts which calls on God to take “revenge on the damned rapists Zionists.” [8] Though Abdallah was fired after IRUSA discovered his anti-Semitism, Lamada sits on IRUSA’s board of directors as of mid-2020. [9] In May of 2020, IRUSA hosted an event with noted anti-Semite Omar Abdelkafi, who has advocated for violence against Jewish people, calling on god to “slay them one by one and spare not one of them…Liberate Al Aqsa Mosque from the filth of Jews the aggressors” in a 2017 Facebook post. [10]

IRUSA has given platforms at a variety of events to speakers who advocate violence against women, the United States, and the LGBT community. [11] [12] [13]

In 2011, IRUSA faced a financial scandal after a Forbes investigation discovered that the charity had overvalued deworming pills by over 80,000%, artificially inflating revenues to make the charity look more financially efficient and attractive to potential donors. [14] IRUSA’s accounting of the deworming pills came under even greater scrutiny when IRUSA admitted that processing fees may have been paid for the deworming medicines that amounted to more than their actual cost, making the acquisition of the deworming pills nothing more than a market-value purchase, which could not be written off as a charitable contribution. [15] One year after an outside law firm investigated the scandal, financial statements showed a staggering 91% decrease in donated drug gifts to IRUSA. [16]

History

IRUSA is a branch of Islamic Relief, one of the largest Islamic charities in the world. [17] Islamic Relief has over 100 offices in 40 countries. [18] IRUSA was founded to provide disaster and emergency relief when it was founded in 1993, sending aid to Bosnian Muslims affected by the wars and genocides following the collapse of Yugoslavia. [19] Over the next several decades, IRUSA provided humanitarian aid during a number of conflicts,[20] most prominently a partnership with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Jewish organization, in 2018 to provide humanitarian aid to those fleeing the Syrian Civil War. [21] [22]

Within the United States, IRUSA provided aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, providing over $2 million in assistance to affected individuals and sending field workers to distribute aid. [23] Years later, after Hurricane Sandy, IRUSA staff and volunteers worked at New Jersey shelters to house those displaced by the storm. [24] IRUSA has provided support after several natural disasters in the United States over the years, including providing aid to Alabama tornado victims, assisting Detroit residents with water bills, and contributing to emergency response during the water quality crisis in Flint, Michigan. [25] [26] [27] Aside from disaster relief, IRUSA has organized several social-issue projects in the United States, including implementing after-school meal programs, supporting post-prison re-entry programs, providing food aid on Native American reservations, and offering assistance to victims of domestic violence. [28]

Given its substantial involvement in the American charitable landscape, IRUSA quickly rose to national prominence, especially during the Obama administration. In his speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, then-President Barack Obama cited IRUSA as a key faith-based charitable organization. [29] IRUSA’s work alongside the federal government continued into the Trump administration, with the group providing food for schoolchildren during the summer of 2017 in eight cities in partnership with the USDA. [30]

Charitable Activity

IRUSA is involved in charitable projects both in the United States and around the world, with a predominately international focus. Most of IRUSA’s domestic efforts are centered around poverty relief and emergency aid. [31] Recently, IRUSA has created a United States Disaster Response Team to volunteer in areas impacted by natural disasters, provided free health care services in various US cities, and supported efforts to advance left-of-center policy on refugees. [32] IRUSA also hosts its annual “Day of Dignity” in which IRUSA volunteers provide low-income and homeless individuals with access to  hygiene kits, food, haircuts, medical screening, financial advice, and more. [33]

IRUSA’s poverty relief efforts extend beyond the United States, with IRUSA operating programs in 39 countries. [34] IRUSA’s food aid program is one of its largest projects, providing aid to over 2.5 million people in more than 35 different countries. [35]

Much of IRUSA’s charitable activity is centered around children. IRUSA has established education projects in 14 countries, especially in the Middle East, and launched several programs designed especially to educate refugee children. [36] IRUSA also coordinates programs for vulnerable children around the world by offering the opportunity for donors to financially support an orphan in 24 different countries and refugee communities. [37]

IRUSA also runs healthcare access programs in 14 different counties, especially in countries facing humanitarian crises such as Yemen. [38] In Africa and the Middle East, IRUSA has organized several programs to improve water security and access to sanitation. [39] IRUSA also runs programs to directly support women’s initiatives in 11 different countries. [40]

Grantmaking Activity

Aside from running direct projects, IRUSA gives substantial grants to various programs and organizations both in the United States and abroad. IRUSA disbursed most of its international grants to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2017, totaling over $47.4 million. [41] IRUSA also gave grants amounting to nearly $29 million across the Middle East and North Africa in 2017 alone. [42]

Much of IRUSA’s international grantmaking in 2017centered around provide relief for refugees or other individuals living in conflict-stricken regions. That year, IRUSA distributed over $5.6 million in grants to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. [43] IRUSA also gave over $6.5 million to support refugees in Syria, and an additional $2 million to support the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. [44]

IRUSA gave most of its domestic grants in 2017 to various American Muslim organizations, with its largest grant of $1.7 million going to the Inner-City Muslim Action Network. [45] Most other grants went to support community centers and organizations for Muslim and Arab Americans and refugees. [46]

Anti-Semitism Allegations

Khaled Lamada

In 2017, then-Islamic Relief USA chairman Khaled Lamada publicly expressed support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist extremist organization, posting Muslim Brotherhood symbols across his social media pages. [47] Lamada’s personal pages also circulated anti-Semitic remarks, praising the “jihad” of the “Mujahidin of Egypt” for “causing the Jews many defeats” and celebrating the terrorist organization Hamas for causing a “huge defeat” to Israel, the “Zionist entity.” [48] [49]

Using his Facebook page, Lamada further spread conspiracy videos alleging that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is secretly Jewish and that he opposes the Muslim Brotherhood on the orders of Jewish officials. [50] The video Lamada circulated further claimed that Jewish people sow division in Egypt by encouraging sexual activities. [51] Lamada’s only comment upon sharing the video was, “I hope this is not true.” [52] Among other anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, Lamada disseminated claims that the United States is controlled by a pro-Israel lobby working to demonize Islam and invade Sudan and the Nile Valley. [53] Though Lamada is no longer chairman of IRUSA, he sits on the board as of mid-2020. [54]

Yousef Abdallah

IRUSA east coast operations manager Yousef Abdallah published a story on Facebook in 2014 romanticizing “martyrs” who provided guns to “kill more than 20 Jews.” [55] Abdallah’s further Facebook posts referred to Jews as “stinking,” and Abdallah liked a comment on one of his posts which calls on God to take “revenge on the damned rapists Zionists.” [56] Abdallah also took aim at United States officials who supported Israeli’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza. After former Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) backtracked on referring to the disputed territories of Gaza and the West Bank as “occupied,” Abdallah wrote a Facebook post claiming, “Christie kneels down on his knees before the Jewish lords and says ‘I am sorry.’ Only money makes stuff like this happen.” [57]

Omar Abdelkafi

Aside from having leaders associated with anti-Semitic positions, IRUSA has hosted events featuring speakers who have advocated for violence against Jewish people. On May 3, 2020, IRUSA hosted an event featuring Omar Abdelkafi (also known as Omar Abdulkafy). [58] Abdelkafi’s history of anti-Semitism has been noted by international media for decades. In 2015, Politico reported that Abdelkafi has proclaimed that Muslims should refuse to shake hands or share sidewalks with Christians. [59] Following the terrorist attacks against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in 2015, Abdelkafi delivered an address which called the 9/11 terrorist attacks which claimed the lives of over 2,000 Americans a “comedy film” to which the attacks were merely a “sequel.” [60]

In a 2017 Facebook post, Abdelkafi remarked, “O Allah, we complain to you about the Jews, as they cannot escape you…slay them one by one and spare not one of them…Liberate Al Aqsa Mosque from the filth of Jews the aggressors.” [61] Various other Facebook posts call upon Allah to liberate the Muslim world from “the filth of the Jews, the monkeys, the pigs.” [62] In an undated clip of Abdelkafi preaching, he claims that the hour of reckoning “will not begin until you fight the Jews, until a Jew will hide behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will say: ‘O Muslim, O slave of Allah, here is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.” [63] Abdelkafi’s comments were so incendiary that he was uninvited from a 2018 conference organized by Muslim organizations in Canada. [64]

 

Alleged Advocacy of Violence

Islamic Relief USA has hosted events with several controversial figures who have advocated for violence against the LGBT community and other groups. Abdullah Hakim Quick, a Canadian preacher featured in several online fundraisers, has claimed that, “AIDS is caused by the filthy practices of homosexuals” while noting that the Islamic penalty for homosexuality is death. [65] Quick further claimed in a 2000 speech posted to YouTube in 2016 that homosexuality “goes with Zionism” and that when ad-Dajjal (an evil figure in Islamic eschatology compared to the Christian Antichrist[66]) arrives, his army would be mostly composed of Jews and partly composed of homosexuals. [67] Quick’s comments have been condemned other Muslims, and Quick repudiated the comments when asked about them by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. [68]

Despite being heavily funded by the American government, IRUSA has invited several anti-American speakers to fundraisers in the past, including Zaid Shakir. [69] Shakir has pushed conspiracy theories about the September 11th attacks, claiming that there are “glaring weaknesses and inconsistencies in the official narrative” in the American government’s account of the attack. [70] Shakir has further promoted ideals of political Islamism, calling on Muslims to use “extreme caution” before engaging in politics because, “The legal and political system of America [is] sinful and constitutes open rebellion against Allah…Islam presents an absolutist political agenda, or one which doesn’t lend itself to compromise.” [71]

Other IRUSA speakers have made comments supporting violence against women. Omar Suleiman, a prominent IRUSA speaker, has claimed that women should never be alone with a man outside of her family, and that women who commit adultery can be killed by a family member without condemnation. [72] Suleiman has also called homosexuality a “disease” and a “repugnant shameless sin.” [73]

Accounting Controversy

In November 2011, a Forbes investigation revealed that Islamic Relief USA had overvalued deworming pills gifted to the organization on its revenue statements, inaccurately ranking IRUSA among the largest 200 charities in the United States. [74]

In 2010, IRUSA claimed contributions of $182 million, all but $40 million of which came from donated “gifts in kind” (GIKs) rather than cash contributions. [75] [76] Much of these gifts came in the form of deworming pills, which IRUSA then distributed to various communities around the world. [77] On IRUSA’s financial statements, the pills were valued at as much as $16.25 per pill, when the world market price was two cents per pill. [78] IRUSA’s financial statements inflated the value of the pills by more than 80,000%, placing IRUSA in the list of Forbes’ Largest 200 American charities. [79] The inflation of GIK contributions is often used to make a charity’s financial efficiencies look better to enhance their appeal to new donors. [80]

When brought under scrutiny for the overvaluation of the pills, IRUSA blamed Diana Sufian, an “independent contractor.” [81] IRUSA argued that it had nothing to do with the valuation of the pills, placing the responsibility on Sufian and firing her while suspending the donated goods program in 2011. [82] Sufian was paid $669,000 by IRUSA in 2009 alone, nearly five times the pay of IRUSA’s president. [83]

In a written statement following the breaking of the scandal, IRUSA claimed that it had been told Sufian handled millions of deworming pills donated by the Medical Education Training and Development Inc. (METAD). [84] METAD, registered as a tax-exempt charity, appeared to be functioning as a broker for the sale of deworming pills. [85] The IRUSA statement further claimed that Sufian had told its officials that the deworming pills came from MedPharm LLC, a for-profit drug company. [86]

IRUSA’s accounting of the deworming pills came under even greater scrutiny when IRUSA admitted that processing fees may have been paid for the deworming medicines that amounted to more than their actual cost. [87] If this were to be the case, the contribution of the deworming pills would have been just a market-value purchase, which could not be written off as a charitable contribution in the first place. [88] IRUSA itself acknowledged that it did not know whether the pills listed as charitable contributions were purchased or donated, while still writing off the pills as charitable contributions on the organization’s financial statements. [89]

After the deworming pills came under scrutiny, IRUSA hired an outside law firm to investigate. [90] One year later, IRUSA’s financial statements showed a staggering 91% decrease in donated drug gifts, which seemingly contradicted a claim on IRUSA’s website regarding its high financial efficiencies. [91] Though IRUSA’s own financials showed that it spent just 74% directly on charity and 20% on fundraising and overhead, IRUSA’s website claimed in 2012 that it spent 93.8% of contributions directly on charity and just 6.2% on fundraising. [92] After being contacted by Forbes regarding the discrepancy, IRUSA removed the specific numbers, instead stating merely that it “takes great pride in our efficiency and accountability.” [93] Between 2010 and 2011, IRUSA’s stated contributions fell from $182 million to $64 million after accounting for the overvaluation of donated drugs. [94]

Despite claims that IRUSA would suspend its donated drugs program, it valued drug contributions to various foreign countries at nearly $42.3 million on its 2017 financial statements, accounting for over one-third of IRUSA’s total grant contributions. [95] [96]

People and Funding

Islamic Relief USA is funded almost entirely by donations, with all but $23,890 of IRUSA’s total 2017 revenue coming from gifts and contributions. [97] As of 2017, the United States government had distributed over $704,662 in grants to IRUSA. [98] In 2017, then-U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL) introduced a budget amendment which would have cut all funding to IRUSA and all other chapters of Islamic Relief after allegations that IRUSA had direct ties to terrorist organizations. [99] The amendment ultimately failed, after heavy lobbying by nonprofits led by then-Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN). [100]

Audits by the United Kingdom have found no links to terrorism, but a 2019 audit by the German government alleged some Islamic Relief entities have “significant ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood. [101] [102]

Islamic Relief was co-founded by Essam El Haddad, the foreign policy advisor to Egypt’s since-deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi. [103] Egypt has alleged that Haddad used Islamic Relief to finance the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Ahmed Esmat el Bendary, an IRUSA founder, was identified by Egyptian newspaper Al-Watan as a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood. [104]

Anwar Khan is the current president of IRUSA. [105] Raised in England, Khan began working with Islamic Relief Worldwide in 1993 before moving to the United States to help found IRUSA. [106] Khan has worked in conflict zones for most of his career, in addition to serving on the United States State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group. [107] Sharif Aly works as IRUSA’s chief executive officer. [108] Aly joined IRUSA as advocacy counsel in 2014, leaving advocacy initiatives and working as IRUSA’s lead representative to the United Nations. [109]

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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1994

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $143,988,489 $150,398,532 $44,711,691 $23,851,801 N $145,421,015 $0 $0 $553,007
    2016 Dec Form 990 $103,045,989 $122,412,106 $40,324,269 $16,859,884 N $104,682,885 $0 $0 $663,576 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $108,577,487 $101,143,141 $57,032,526 $15,734,467 N $109,204,699 $0 $0 $489,421 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $110,899,868 $135,476,932 $50,529,060 $17,076,597 N $112,578,964 $0 $0 $379,373 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $65,275,034 $51,103,539 $72,822,825 $16,038,176 N $66,416,174 $0 $0 $549,319 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $60,899,942 $49,809,983 $53,469,985 $11,941,981 N $62,288,900 $0 $0 $777,821 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $63,551,843 $48,941,251 $44,341,367 $13,933,395 N $63,445,140 $0 $0 $962,276 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Islamic Relief USA

    3655 WHEELER AVE
    ALEXANDRIA, VA 22304-6404