The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has conducted searches in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec as part of an investigation into a Muslim charity organization. Canadian federal auditors accuse the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN-Canada) of sending nearly $15 million to Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization. On Tuesday, the Canadian government officially added the organization to its list of banned terrorist organizations.
"As a consequence, any property or asset belonging to IRFAN is now frozen," said a letter from the RCMP said.
IRFAN-Canada lost its charity status in 2011 following a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audit that exposed the organization as an "integral part" in Hamas' international fundraising infrastructure. The donations in question were sent between 2005 and 2009.
The CRA also found videos at the organization's Mississauga office that "demonize Israel, characterize the Arab-Israeli conflict as a religious war, appeal for all Arab and Muslim nations to join in the struggle against Israel and glorify martyrdom."
Tuesday's raids netted "an extensive amount of documentary evidence along with stored media, money and other records were seized," according to the RCMP statement issued shortly after the government announced the organization's ban.
"IRFAN-Canada has knowingly financed Hamas … for many years," Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said Tuesday. "The well intentioned and charitable Canadians who sought to support humanitarian relief through this organization deserve better."
No one for IRFAN-Canada was available to comment, but a lawyer speaking on the organization's behalf condemned the listing as an attack on humanitarian assistance for Palestinians.