The picture of Islamic Relief Worldwide painted by Kyle Shideler in “Funding terrorists must end” (Web, Nov. 29) is riddled with inaccuracies. It undermines the good name of an organization trusted by governments, U.N. agencies and hundreds of thousands of donors to deliver life-saving aid around the world.
Islamic Relief is a purely humanitarian organization that abhors terrorism. Our work, which funds $250 million worth of aid projects annually in 40 countries, is subjected to dozens of independent audits each year. Not one has found any evidence of terrorist links.
Approximately three quarters of our aid-and-development expenditure goes toward emergencies such as the Nepal earthquake and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. The rest funds education, health care, clean water, orphan sponsorship and projects to help families earn their way out of extreme poverty.
Mr. Shideler writes that Israel designated Islamic Relief a terrorist entity because of ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, Israel claims that Islamic Relief is linked with Hamas, and it has yet to provide credible evidence for this. We are currently contesting terrorist designations by Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Such labeling is wrong and unfounded.
Mr. Shideler also mentions that Islamic Relief’s Gaza project coordinator was arrested by Israel’s security forces in 2006 because of “links to to the terror group” Hamas. However, he fails to mention that this individual was released by an Israeli judge after the authorities failed to produce sufficient evidence for the charge.
Our former chair of trustees, Dr. Essam El-Haddad, was indeed approached to work in President Morsi’s government in Egypt. But Mr. Shideler omits the fact that when Dr. El-Haddad accepted that position, he immediately resigned from Islamic Relief. We have never been members of the Union of Good, as Mr. Shideler insinuates, nor do we work or have we worked with the organizations in Pakistan that he mentions.
Unfortunately Mr. Shideler failed to properly check his facts or ask Islamic Relief for its side of the story. Had he done so, he might have learned many positive things about the scale and impact of our life-saving work.
Islamic Relief Worldwide