MPAC Calls for Meeting of National Council of American Muslim Non-Profits on KindHearts Closure

March 3, 2006

The Muslim Public Affairs Council today called for an emergency meeting of the National Council of American Muslim Non-Profits (NCAMN) to discuss the recent freeze and seizure of assets of KindHearts, an Ohio-based charitable group, by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Using the power of an executive order, federal agents closed KindHearts on Feb. 19 and froze its assets while authorities investigate the Muslim charity for alleged support of Hamas.

KindHearts is a member of the steering committee of the National Council of American Muslim Non-Profits (NCAMN), a proactive community-initiated measure which has worked in consultation with Treasury since March 2005 to develop a comprehensive oversight process to ensure transparency and protection of American Muslim institutions. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, more than 25 American Muslim non-profits and charities have been shut down amid vague allegations of providing support to terrorists. Such widespread scrutiny has left many donors fearful of giving. In light of these events, MPAC believes it is crucial that all members of NCAMN meet immediately in order to address the implications created by these events.

In many cases, U.S. Muslim and non-Muslim charities operate in the same parts of the world and send funds to the same social service agencies who can deliver assistance to needy individuals in the region; however, the perception is that the U.S. government is singling out charities such as KindHearts mainly because they are Muslim in origin. The only way to resolve this issue is for the U.S. government to disclose specific allegations of wrongdoing rather than issuing vague accusations of "aiding terrorism". Simultaneously, many members of the charitable community are troubled by the fact that the U.S. Treasury Department acknowledged in 2004 that the U.S. government had offered the government of Saudi Arabia recommendations on how to avoid U.S. seizure of its assets in charitable giving inside its country. To date, Treasury has not offered anything comparable to charities run by American citizens.

With the formation of NCAMN in March 2005, more than 20 Muslim American organizations signaled their interest in working with Treasury in order to develop a set of "voluntary guidelines" that can help ensure they are operating within the law. The status of the NCAMN may now be in question since the Treasury has not adequately advised members of this Council on how to operate within a safe harbor. To this point, the "Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines, Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-based Charities" issued in December 2005 by the Treasury Department have raised more questions than they have answered. MPAC issued its response to the guidelines in January 2005, and was a signatory to the response issued by the Treasury Guidelines Working Group, a broadly representative group of more than 40 U.S. charities, foundations, religious organizations, corporations, umbrella associations, watchdog groups and advisors, which called on Treasury to withdraw the revised guidelines.

SEE: MPAC's Response to the Treasury Guidelines (MPAC, January 2006)

SEE: Treasury Guidelines Working Group Response (Council on Foundations, 2/1/06)

Finally, MPAC recommends that KindHearts immediately file a license to send the frozen funds, minus what it requires to fund its legal defense, to a third party before the money becomes subject to litigation by those seeking to siphon Muslim zakat (charitable giving) to fill their personal and special interest coffers. MPAC demands clarification from the government regarding donors rights, especially in terms of ensuring their funds are sent to the intended recipients who are in need. In the case of KindHearts, $1 million was designated for the Pakistan Earthquake relief.

For further information on this issue, see OMB Watch's recent report entitled "Muslim Charities and the War on Terror".

[CONTACT: Edina Lekovic, 213-383-3443,]

Related Downloads:
MPAC Response to Revised Treasury Guidelines (January 2006)



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