The Canadian chapter of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) may have funneled $280,000 to a Pakistani group tied to a violent Kashmiri secessionist movement, the Toronto Star reports.
An audit by the Canada Revenue Agency found a host of other problems within the ISNA Development Foundation, including missing documentation, misleading financial reports and sending donations abroad to unapproved groups, despite a stated purpose of serving the poor and needy in Canada.
The Star obtained a copy of a letter from Canada Revenue Agency auditors to ISNA Development outlining their findings.
Money sent to the Pakistan-based Relief Organization for Kashmiri Muslims was problematic on several fronts. ISNA Development couldn't provide any documentation for the $280,000 sent to the Pakistani group between 2007 and 2009. The Relief Organization has "strong ties" to the radical Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. In addition, Relief Organization directors "have been identified as active participants both in defining Jama'at-e-Islami's role in the armed militancy in Kashmir" and in creating "Hizbul Mujahideen," which the European Union has designated as a terrorist group.
While ISNA Canada's acting president denied the money went to "freedom fighters," other directors acknowledged there were "no strings" on the donations and the charity "had no control over" how the money was spent in Pakistan. Auditors wrote that it "could be used in support of . . . advancing the political cause of Kashmir's self-determination, including through support of a militant movement."
The Pakistani relief organization which received ISNA's money says it helps orphans "of Kashmiri Martyrs," Star investigative reporter Jesse McLean wrote, by providing "financial support for the reconstruction of demolished and torched houses and mosques at the hands of Indian occupation forces."
The ISNA Development Foundation may be stripped of its charitable status as a result.
"Canada's commitment to combating terrorism extends to preventing organizations with ties to terrorism from benefiting from the tax advantages of charitable registration," the audit letter said.
Pictures showing relief workers distributing aid under an ISNA Development banner appear to be doctored, the audit letter said. Those pictures are "the sole scrap of evidence the charity said it had on how its money was spent overseas," McLean wrote.
ISNA Development directors blamed former ISNA Canada President Mohammad Ashraf – who served as ISNA Development's secretary – for monopolizing control of the charity and failing to share information with them.
A previous audit indicated $600,000 in ISNA funds were misappropriated for personal use and administrative costs, leaving a "very small portion ... [to be] distributed to the poor and needy."
Read McLean's full report on the audit here.