Right in our own backyards

Par Beryl Wajsman le 8 décembre 2014

At the time of the terrorist murders of WO Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, we used this space to remind readers of the need for vigilance on the enemy within. That it was not sufficient just to commemorate the service and sacrifice of others. That all of us in our daily lives must be on guard against extremists hiding behind seemingly normal facades.

Among the reasons I wrote that editorial then was because I had actually been asked by someone, "is there really a  threat from these groups in our own backyard?" And I was asked this exactly one day before the Vincent murder. Well there was a threat then, and there is now. Right in our own backyards.

Threats do not have to be defined only as murder and mayhem. Threats are the support systems, the enablers, the groups posing as upstanding members of our communities. Just weeks before the terrorists attacks I received death threats because of a speech by the Israeli finance minister that we published. There is an atmosphere of license that has permeated our national culture where too many dismiss their responsibilities because they want to maintain a false sense of security, or just because they can't be bothered or out of mercantile expediency.

These thoughts come to mind again as we receive news this week that an RCMP investigation has revealed that a charity, labeled a terrorist support group in 2011, is still in business in Montreal and in Ontario collecting cash from supporters. The International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy, or IRFAN, lost its charitable status in 2011 because of ties to Hamas. According to the Government of Canada it had sent approximately $14.5 million to Hamas and related organizations between 2005 and 2009. 

IRFAN lost access to the Canadian banking system, meaning it could not open accounts or process donations given by cheque or credit card. But documents obtained by La Presse this week demonstrated that it is still collecting cash here in Montreal through an agent who lives in......Pierrefonds. Right in our own backyard.

A raid on his home turned up $47,000, including some bills that had been marked by the Mounties and given to him by a undercover officer posing as a donor. One of IRFAN's leaders, Canadian director-general Rasem Abdel-Majid based in Mississauga, was quoted as saying that the group found itself in the line of fire of authorities because "it is one of the largest Arab Islamic charities and the Jews have a problem with that." Any comment by us here would be superfluous. It is clear what this group is all about.

But authorities estimate that between January 2011 and July 2013 IRFAN may have collected some $3.5 million in additional funds. Finally in July 2013 the CIBC closed IRFAN's accounts. It is also important to note that in Dec.2012, some 18 months after losing its status because of terrorist ties, IRFAN was a prominent sponsor of a gathering of some 20,000 Muslims in Toronto at which a prominent speaker was Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. IRFAN withdrew as a sponsor after considerable public outcry.

IRFAN maintains an office in Montreal on Decarie Blvd. in Ville St.Laurent. RCMP records show that that between 2001 and 2010 IRFAN received tens of thousands of dollars from the Islamic Center of Quebec, the Muslim Association of Canada and an organization called Human Concern International which keeps offices on Barclay Ave. in Snowdon.

"Liberty demands responsibility. That's why so many dread it," Shaw wrote in the 1920s. It's time for all of us to start exercising responsibility and stop excusing or validating the enemies right in our own backyards.


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Editorial Staff

Beryl P. Wajsman

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Alan Hustak

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Daniel Laprès


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