Special Information
Bulletin

Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S)
November 2004
   
 
IRFAN: A Hamas front organization operating in Canada to enlist financial support for Hamas institutions in the Palestinian Authority-administered territories
 

 
Synopsis
IRFAN (International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy, formerly the Jerusalem Fund for Human Services) 1 is a Hamas front organization operating in Canada. It enlists contributions and transfers the funds to Hamas' civilian infrastructure ( da'wah ) in the Palestinian Authority (PA)-administered territories. The infrastructure, financed by the donations from Canada and other countries, helps Hamas establish itself as an alternative to the PA and to maintain its terrorism-supporting apparatus. Even during the era of an international battle against terrorism-funding money, and despite the fact that the Canadian government designated the Jerusalem Fund as Hamas-affiliated, it continues its activities uninterrupted under its new name, IRFAN.
1 Referred to as The Jerusalem Fund.
 
  Overview of the Fund and its activities
  1. IRFAN 2, the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy , is a Hamas front organization operating in Canada . It is one of the many funds and foundations in western countries which collect money for Hamas' civilian infrastructure ( da'wah ) in the PA-administered territories, which includes its support for terrorist activities. The Fund's general manager is Hamas-affiliated Rasem ‘Abd al-Majid (Abu Basem) .
2 In Arabic, ‘ irfan means “doing a good deed,” or “gratitude.”
  2. IRFAN is a non-profit charitable organization registered in Canada (charity registration number 885408849RR0001). The address of its main office is PO Box 1628, Stn. “B,” Mississauga, Ontario L4Y4G3, Canada. As a non-profit organization, the donations it receives are tax-deductible , a fact IRFAN notes prominently and often on its Website. The head offices are in Mississauga , Ontario, with branches in Ottawa and Montreal. The Fund also has an office in East Jerusalem, headed by Khaled Abu Kaf, who is affiliated with Hamas .
   
  3. Like other Hamas-supporting funds, IRFAN states that its goals are humanitarian and that it was established to “cope with the greater demands of the needy in the world.” It obscures the fact that it deals mainly with Palestinian causes, and makes no mention at all of its ties to Hamas. It presents itself (on its Internet site) as working for the needy in many Muslim countries: “the Palestinian Authority,” Lebanon, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Turkey, Iraq, Albania and Algeria.
  4. However, the description is far from accurate, since most of its activities are conducted in the PA-administered territories, as can easily be seen from the list of projects on its Internet site. The institutions the Fund supports (and through which it launches its projects) are almost exclusively part of Hamas' civilian infrastructure in the PA-administered territories and of its terrorist-supporting apparatus. It is worthwhile noting that even the Palestinian Authority has identified IRFAN with Hamas .
 
IRFAN support for Hamas institutions in the PA-administered territories
  5. During Israeli army operations against Hamas institutions in the PA-administered territories, many documents were found regarding the money transferred by IRFAN to those institutions, which has been outlawed by Israel . For example, documents were found relating IRFAN to the Jenin Charitable Society, the Tulkarm Charitable Society, the Bethlehem Orphan Care Society, the Qalqilya Charitable Committee, the Dura Charitable society, and the Ramallah-Al-Bireh Charitable Society.3
3 Examples of IRFAN support for the first four institutions can be found in the Appendices of this bulletin.
  IRFAN: another name for the Jerusalem Fund for Human Services
  6. The Jerusalem Fund for Human Services (JFHS) , apparently established in 1991 , was a Canadian-based front organization for Hamas whose annual support for Hamas institutions in the PA-administered territories was estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars .
  7. The Fund was active until the end of 2001-beginning of 2002, when it changed its name from the Jerusalem Fund to IRFAN . That was probably done because after the events of September 11, 2001, there was a global crackdown against terrorism funding, including in Canada. Apparently the Fund felt the noose tightening around its neck and decided to change its name as a preventive measure , intending to obscure its ties to Hamas and to make it difficult for Canadian law enforcement agencies to act against it. 4
4 The tactic of changing names of Hamas-affiliated funds and foundations to make matters difficult for law-enforcement agencies is well-known from events in other countries. For example, the French Comite de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP), a Hamas front organization, and the London-based Palestine and Lebanon Relief Fund (PLRF) both renamed themselves. Some of the CBSP's functions are now performed under a different name, while the PLRF now calls itself Interpal.
  8. There is considerable evidence to support the claim that IRFAN and the Jerusalem Fund are one and the same:
    a. In 2002 IRFAN announced that it was the continuation of the Jerusalem Fund, saying that IRFAN - Canada, which is a natural extension to JFHS adopted and moved forward with the charitable work and projects but on a larger and more extensive scale and coverage.
    b. Rasem ‘Abd al-Majid (Abu Basem) , identified with Hamas , who headed the Jerusalem Fund, apparently continues as head of IRFAN.
    c. The Jerusalem Fund office in east Jerusalem changed its name to IRFAN – the Jerusalem Office . It operates from the same address, has the same telephone numbers and is headed by the same man, Khaled Abu Kaf, identified with Hamas. IRFAN also occupies the same office space as the Jerusalem Fund. A comparison between the address and telephone numbers appearing on Jerusalem Fund letterheads and the updated information about IRFAN on the Internet makes that obvious ( See below .); 5 the emblems of the two funds are also remarkably similar.
5 The letterheads were found (February 25, 2004) in the offices of the Tulkarm Charitable Society (one of Hamas' main institutions on the West Bank), outlawed by Israel in 2002.
   

IRFAN office letterhead, Jerusalem

Jerusalem Fund letterhead, Jerusalem

IRFAN Jerusalem operates from the same offices, at the same address and using the same telephone and fax numbers as the Jerusalem Fund. In addition, documents are signed by the same Khaled Abu Kaf. The East Jerusalem offices coordinate between IRFAN (i.e., the Jerusalem Fund) and Hamas institutions in the PA-administered territories, which receive financial support from Canada .
  Relations between the Jerusalem Fund and other Islamic funds and foundations which support Hamas
  9.

The Jerusalem Fund (in its current guise as IRFAN) has relations with Islamic funds and foundations all over the world which collect money for Hamas institutions in the PA-administered territories. The Jerusalem Fund was, at least until its name change, a member of the Union of Good ( itilafu el-khair ), 6 headed by extremist sheikh Yussuf al-Qardawi. Because of its ties to Hamas, the Union of Good was outlawed by Israel in 2002; however, as of today (November 2004) IRFAN is on the Union of Good's updated list.
6 The Union of Good is an umbrella organization of worldwide Islamic funds and foundations which almost exclusively support Hamas institutions in the PA-administered territories.

  10. The Jerusalem Fund also cooperated with London-based Interpal , another Hamas front organization. 7 According to documents found by Israeli security forces, the Jerusalem Fund transferred money to the Bethlehem Islamic Society though Interpal. According to one document, IRFAN and other funds transferred money to the Bethlehem Orphan Care Society through Interpal (See Appendix C (2)). Another link between the Jerusalem Fund and Interpal was the Jerusalem Fund fund-raising drive in Toronto in 1998, at which Ibrahim Hewitt , one of the heads of Interpal, was a speaker.
7 Interpal was outlawed by Israel in 1997 and declared a terrorist organization in 1998. In 2003 it was included in American Presidential Executive Order 13224 which mandated the freezing of the assets of terrorism-linked individuals and organizations.
  11. The Jerusalem Fund frequently cooperated with The Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a Texas-based Hamas front organization. The Foundation was outlawed by Israel in 1997 and in December 2003 it was included in American Presidential Executive Order 13224 which mandated the freezing of the assets of terrorism-linked individuals and organizations. In advertisements enlisting donations to The Jerusalem Fund, its name is often in close proximity to that of The Hold Land Foundation.
  Canadian government policy regarding IRFAN
  12. According to an article recently published in the Canadian National Post, in the past Canadian authorities identified The Jerusalem Fund with Hamas. On September 28, 2004, it reported that in 1998, the singer Yusuf Islam , formerly known as Cat Stevens , 8 “was the guest of honour at a Toronto fundraising dinner hosted by an organization that has since been identified by the Canadian government as a ‘front' for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. In a videotape of the 1998 event obtained by the National Post, Mr. Islam describes Israel as a ‘so-called new society' created by a ‘so-called religion' and urges the audience to donate to the Jerusalem Fund for Human Services to ‘lessen the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Palestine and the Holy Land.'”
8 Recently (November 2004) the United States refused Cat Stevens entry into its territory on the grounds that he was suspected of transferring funds to Hamas and the blind sheikh ‘Omar ‘Abd al-Rahman, who was arrested for his part in the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.
  13. On May 23, 2000, the Jerusalem Fund was mentioned in a report sent to Jean Chretien, then Prime Minister, discussing what it called groups that had “unsavoury links” with terrorism. The report, some of which was quoted in the newspaper, stated that in a number of instances funds were being raised in Canada for violent struggles [sic] through “the cover of the cover of ethnic, religious or community-based associations and groups, lobbying and even criminal activity.” The report mentioned the names of front organizations operating in Canada which aided in financing terrorism, among them The Jerusalem Fund (currently IRFAN), which was specifically mentioned in connection with Hamas (For more information see Appendix D ).
  14.

Despite the fact that the Canadian authorities identified The Jerusalem Fund with Hamas and even curtailed its activities to a certain degree, the Fund continued its operations for ten years until it changed its name. After the events of September 11, the Canadian government initiated a number of measures aimed at impeding terrorist financing in general and that of Hamas in particular. Thus, two weeks after the United States included the Holy Land Foundation and two other Hamas financial institutions in Executive Order 13224, the Canadian government also adopted a policy of freezing assets. Nevertheless, the change of names from The Jerusalem Fund to IRFAN apparently made it difficult for the Canadian authorities to act against the Fund and it continues to transfer funds (in Israeli estimation, hundreds of thousands of dollars annually), to Hamas institutions in the PA-administered territories.

  15. Appendices
    a. Appendix A: Hamas' financial sources.
    b. Appendix B : Overview of the “charitable societies” and other institutions belonging to Hamas civilian infrastructure ( da'wah ) in the PA-administered territories.
    c. Examples of the transfer of funds by IRFAN to Hamas institutions in the PA-administered territories
     
  1. Appendix C : IRFAN support of the Jenin Charitable Society, identified with Hamas.
  2. Appendix D : IRFAN support of the Tulkarm Charitable Society, identified with Hamas.
  3. Appendix E : IRFAN support for the Bethlehem Orphan Care Society, a Hamas-run institution.
  4. Appendix F : IRFAN support for the Qalqilya Charitable Committee.
    d. Appendix G : An article which appeared in the September 28, 2004 edition of the Canadian National Post, mentioning the report sent to the Canadian Prime Minister about organizations operating in Canada and raising funds to finance terrorism. The report notes the Jerusalem Fund (IRFAN's predecessor) as a front organization for Hamas.