Societies have always come together in time of crisis, and charities have remained an important means. However, ‘fund collection’ in name of charities seems to have become a new tool of corruption. With the arrival of online fund collection and social media advertisements, there has been an unprecedented reach to potential donors, and proportionately significant jump in the people and organizations collecting funds in the name of various charitable causes. However, there has been less than desired transparency about all these activities. Our previous report has examined how money collected through online means (including advertising on social media) was being funnelled to groups and organizations having direct links with the terror groups.
The second wave of Covid crisis in India was no exception, and as expected several fund-raising initiatives mushroomed – some genuine, many not. Several of these organizations were based in India, or had a large network within in India and past experiences. However, a few international organizations also jumped in– organizations who had no presence in India – no offices, no branches, nor representatives – and hence it was kind of interesting to see how would they execute their charity plans. It was therefore interesting to see how such organizations would deliver on their promises, and hence we started to watch.
Worth noting that on April 26th, US President Biden had made a public appeal – that India had helped the US in its crisis, and now it was the US’ turn to help.
And lo and behold, several fund-raisers were set-up on April 27th and 28th in the US – by Islamists organizations being run from Pakistan. It was one nice way to #StandWithIndia that the Pakistan establishment was showing – and which melted several of our strategic expert celebrities! Touché!
One of the organizations which was very aggressive in fund collections was IMANA, which was running Aid-campaign on Instagram, and one of the fastest to receive funds. The fund collection was so good that IMANA was also frequently revising its target amount, once the previous was met. But it was one of the least transparent in terms of providing updates. Worse, in response to every question about their funding and work, would accuse you of ‘Islamophobia’!
It also turned out there were not one or two but hundreds of fund collections going on in India to help in Covid. And there were several platforms being used for these – from Social-Media to dedicated fund-raising platforms. Amongst the social media platforms, the least transparent was Instagram, which was also one of the most used platforms. Amongst the Fund-Raiser platforms, one with maximum number of fund-raisers and with minimum transparency was Launch Good.
These were glaring red flags which called for a deeper digging of not only IMANA’s activities but also of other charity fund collections that were going around, and dig we did.
IMANA – Islamic Medical Association of North America is an Illinois-based medical relief organization that was formerly established as Islamic Medical Association (IMA) in 1967, and subsequently renamed to IMANA. It was formed by some of the core members of an Islamic organization- Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
IMANA has claimed to have worked in various parts of the world, and its website, social media profile and past accolades made it appear to be a major charity organization, which facilitates its various fund collection drives.
However, unlike several other organizations, IMANA was rather opaque in its recent charity drive during Covid crisis, and has provided scanty details about the manner it has spent crores of rupees it has collected. IMANA’s updates were sketchy while the claims were grand. This seemed rather odd, as most of the charities survive on PR. And for anyone asking questions, the stock reply was labelling the tag of ‘Islamophobia’. (IMANA officially didn’t, but a doctor, Dr. Aaliya Yakub who is associated with IMANA Did)
The Man: Dr. Ismail Mehr
The current chairman of IMANA is Dr. Ismail Mehr, who has been the lead of “Help India Breathe” project. He is a Pakistan-origin doctor and currently resides in the USA. He seems to have a bachelor degree in medicine (Anaesthesia). However, there is some confusion about his actual degree. In one of the versions, Ismail Mehr is a 1998 medical graduate from Universidad Iberoamericana in Dominican Republic. The same information is mentioned in one of the 2013 newsletters of IMANA. But according to the US Physicians’ Directory WebMd.com, Ismail Mehr graduated from UNIVERSIDAD AUTONOMA DE GUADALAJARA, which is based in Mexico.
IMANA’s Fund Collection
IMANA created buzz last month with its fundraiser. It started the #HelpIndiaBreathe campaign on Instagram on April 27, 2021 and set an initial target of 1.8 crores.
First Red Flag
Even before digging deep, if anyone had checked cursorily, they would have found that IMANA was very much capable of manipulation. While seeking help in India, they used a map that would please the Indian audience, while their website has a map endorsed by Pakistan government. If IMANA were to be neutral, it could have at least used the map several international organizations and UN use.
Second Red Flag
What seemed yet another attempt to help, started looking more and more like a fund collection drive. Generally, an organization which intends to help starts with a plan – about the likely help it wants to do, logistics, target audience and fund raising.
IMANA seemed to have started in reverse. It launched a campaign #HelpIndiaBreath on Instagram. And as the money poured-in from good-hearted people in India and world – who wanted to do their bit to help – IMANA saw an opportunity and kept revising targets for fund collection (Rs. 1.8 crores to 3 crores and then 5.62 crores). So much so that IMANA managed to raise on Instagram alone INR 8.7 Cr of a target of INR 5.62 Cr.
While the IG campaign was on, during the same timeline, they pitched the same campaign on another crowdfunding platform “Just Giving”, where it managed to raise another US$298,919 (approx. 2 crores INR).
In addition to these two platforms, IMANA also provided other donation options such as direct donations on website, on Facebook, and even Stocks and cryptocurrencies to name a few. How much IMANA collected through these other means remains unclear, and IMANA has so far not volunteered to divulge, and unlikely to be.
A Hundred Thousand Dollar an Hour!
While the exact figures, other than Instagram and Just Giving, are not available, some ballpark figures could be arrived at through various means, including the claims by IMANA officials. For example, after donation drive was launched on April 27th, the IMANA’s website went down on April 29 – likely due to heavy traffic, as not only several donors would have wanted to visit it, but also It is to also IMANA was collecting funds directly through its website.
Overall, IMANA raised Rs. 8.77 crores from Instagram through #HelpIndiaBreathe campaign, followed by US$298,919 (approx. 2 crores) on Just Giving platform. However, it seems to have collected much more donation from other platforms. As per the claims of IMANA Chairman on May 7th, after reaching $100K on second day, IMANA started receiving donations at a speed of $100K per hour.
Therefore, taking that into account the statement of Chairman of IMANA Relief – a rough calculation of the overall amount could be anywhere between US$ 4.12 million to US$21 million (Rs. 30 crores- 158 crores)
Given that IMANA has almost zero transparency about the fund it collected, there is no way to ascertain actual amount it might have received.
Exploiting India’s Goodwill
This fund was not coming on IMANA’s branding, but on the goodwill India and Indians have earned world over. The fund collection was planned cleverly. In India they used a map which would be accepted to Indians despite having a Pakistan approved map on their webpage. And the Campaign was launched the day after US President Biden called for help to India. And the fund collection drive was targeting the countries where India had sent vaccine and other essential medicines during the Covid crisis since last year. The innocent people in these countries believed that they were helping India.
To get an idea how much IMANA’s own credibility stands, one should look at their other fund-raisers – the donations received varied from few hundred dollars to a thousand approx. In fact the India campaign has boosted their credibility more than anything, as their fund collection for Gaza launched immediately after Indian campaign has collected close to $30k.
Fact Check: IMANA’s Claims and Reality
IMANA and its officials have been making claims on social media as well as through public interviews. While the “HelpIndiaBreathe” campaign was still going on, Dr Ismail Mehr appeared in a podcast interview of Dean Obeidallah on May 7th 2021. (The date is important to contextualise the claims and actual results). It was a 23-minute interview where Dr Mehr made some very tall claims. (Full Video Link on Archive)
A gist of the claims made by Dr Mehr and IMANA social pages, some of the major points are follows:
- Medical Equipment (worth $800k) on deal (discount) have already been purchased (May 7) – including 100k Nasal cannulas, 40k non-breather masks, 450 Oxygen concentrators. IMANA social media pages have also posted videos/pics of the ‘Chicago warehouse’ where all this have been collected. Claims of more medical equipment being procured, as the funds poured in.
2. IMANA had also sorted the logistics at the very beginning – tying up with Air India for free shipment for Chicago – Delhi route. The material was ready to be shipped – on April 29th, then again on May 7th, and again on May 16th and so forth.
3. IMANA had an elaborate network of people and organization on ground in India, which was in the ready state. This included ‘Hindu’ and ‘Sikh’ volunteers.
4. IMANA had tied up with DRDO and Ministry of Agriculture for coordinating their help in India.
Facts on Ground
There were several inconsistencies, contradictions and outright lies in IMANAs’ claims and updates.
1. As per the claims (on May 7) the, consignments worth $800k (retail value) were ready for immediate shipment from the rented warehouse in Chicago to Delhi via Air India. However, not one of the consignments have landed in India.
2. IMANA Chairman claimed that they had already tied up with Air India, which was providing free shipment. The first consignment was coming to Delhi from Chicago. However, it’s been more than a month of the claimed tie-up and ‘ready to be shipped’ but no updates on what was actually delivered. Similar ‘ready-to-be-shipped’ claims have been made on subsequent dates, but no update was provided on their arrival and distribution in India, if there were any.
3. Dr Mehr stated that IMANA is working with DRDO and Agriculture ministry; that their consignment would first reach the agriculture ministry, then distributed by DRDO across different states. However, their collaboration, if any, with the DRDO and Agriculture ministry could not be verified from open source. Secondly, it seems highly implausible that DRDO would coordinate logistics and help distribution with a private NGO.
4. IMANA’s Chairman also claimed that he was working with some medical colleges in India such as Mahatma Gandhi Medical science university (Jaipur) and others in Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore. A consignment designated for SMS Medical college; Jaipur was posted on June 1st update on Instagram. It claimed that consignment has ‘cleared’ customs in Delhi, and was ready to be distributed in the ‘city’, but did not mention which city, and only the labelling indicated it could be for Jaipur. But again, there is no update of the shipment delivery to the destination.
The collaboration with SMS Hospital, Jaipur could not be verified from open source, nor did IMANA posted any such collaboration update. It is interesting to note that the hospital already has its own oxygen plant set up and replete with Oxygen supply!
5. In the podcast, Dr. Mehr mentioned that IMANA has collaborated with vetted partners, in addition to sending direct aid to the government. In reality so far, the only organization that IMANA has collaborated with is the US based Saiyed Foundation, which itself seemed shaky, to put it mildly. Saiyed Foundation has zero transactions and activities in the last six years. In India, IMANA collaborated with Gujarat Sewa Welfare Trust (GSWT) via Az Memon and Saiyed Foundation. Again, GSWT is not FCRA approved organization, and has been in news for some wrong reasons.
So, what did IMANA actually send?
Here the story gets even murkier.
Repeated claims were made by IMANA official pages as well as its Chairman about medical equipment ready to be shipped on April 30th via ‘AIR INDIA’ from Chicago to Delhi.
However, the first claimed shipment of IMANA Relief of 100 Oxygen Concentrators arrives in India on May 12th from New Jersey via Mumbai (Gandhi Shipping, owned by Aim Gandhi) to Ahmedabad through yet another US based NGO (Saiyed Foundation) in collaboration with US-based philanthropist (Afzal Menon) for a Gujarat based NGO (Gujarat Sewa Welfare Trust-run Shifa Hospital).
You may read the above again. We will wait.
Another Helping Hand?
Afzal(Az) Memon’s Quest to hep
Afzal Memon is a US based business person. As the crisis was peaking, he got SOS from his friends in Gujarat, seeking help with Oxygen Concentrators. Being a good Samaritan, he tried to help. For this, he launched a small fund-raiser on Go Fund me for 25 Oxygen concentrators.
His quest was soon rewarded, and within few days his target was to be fulfilled. Unlike most others, Az Memon was regular in his updates, and that’s how we know that he purchased 25 Philips Everflow Oxygen Concentrators from cpapman.com. He was also eagerly seeking help in sending these concentrators to India, and had sought public help.
Then enters the Saiyed Foundation.
We do not know what transpired, but when Az Memon was tired seeking help to get these delivered to India, and was seeking help from UPS/ DTDC and other carriers – when he updated that he got in touch with Saiyed Foundation (on April 27) run by Dr Salim Saiyed, a US-based doctor, VP & Chief Medical Information Officer at UPMC Pinnacle.
The two decided to collaborate, and after joining hands, the subject of fundraiser changed to “Fundraiser for Saiyed Foundation” on GoFundMe.
Collaboration with Saiyed Foundation:
On April 30, Saiyed and Az Memon announced collaboration with a 501c3 IRS certified non-profit organization, the name of which was not mentioned on GoFundMe. From this point onward (April 30) the individual donation Az Memon was seeking became eligible for ‘tax exemption’. While the Go Fund Me page did not provide details of IMANA’s entry, Saiyed Foundation Facebook page informed about their association with IMANA. This could mean that fund-raiser was moved likely to Saiyed Foundation’s account or IMANA itself.
Dr. Saiyed previously had been a regular face in IMANA’s projects as well.
In an interview, Az Memon said he got in touch with Dr Salim Saiyed, and joined forces for the shipment purpose. It is worth noting that Az Memon never mentioned his direct association with Saiyed Foundation, but was suddenly elevated as Vice-chairman on the latter’s Facebook post of May 6.
Helping the wrong cause: RJ Dhwanit
Az Memon also provided a significant help to Saiyed Foundation’s fund raising through his interview with famous RJ – Dhvanit. Dhvanit Thakker is a Gujarat-based Radio Jockey who invited Az Memon for interview on his radio show on May 4. It appears that Az Memon and Dhvanit knew each other from past, and Dhvanit was trying his bit to help by highlighting the good initiatives.Here a lot of credit could be given to RJ Dhvanit as the interview was a huge boost – the Indian diaspora in USA donated generously for the initiative. Due to that, Az Memon managed to raise $37,761 on GoFundMe and $38,976k on Launch Good by Saiyed Foundation.
Worth noting that Saiyed Foundation had also started a parallel fund-raising on yet another platform – Launch Good – for helping India during Covid crisis (Help Gujrat Breath). Both the campaigns by Az Memon and Saiyed Foundation combinedly accounted for over $76k ($37,761 on GoFundMe and $38,976k on LaunchGood) funds raised through GoFundMe and Launch Good.
Soon after bringing Saiyed Foundation on board, they started procuring medical equipment starting with 25 Philips Everflow Oxygen Concentrators on April 28. The very next day, Saiyed Foundation gave an update on procurement of 100 Oxygen concentrators, ready to be airlifted.
A Marriage of Convenience
Saiyed Foundation is a Texas-based 501(c)(3) organization (Company No. 0802185645 & Tax ID 473598514). The foundation was registered in March, 2015. However, within three years by 2018 it appears to have become defunct after failing to comply with tax filings, and the current status of it shows as inactive on various corporate registrars. (The following details were used from Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts)
In the last six years of its existence, the Foundation has NIL transactions – zero receipts and zero expenses. It is likely that given no activity for continuously five years, the status of the foundation is shown as inactive.
Another indication that the Saiyed Foundation was inactive and it had no social media profiles until the “Help Gujarat Breathe” campaign started on Launch Good on April 28 (where they managed to raise total $38,976). The Facebook page for the Foundation was created on April 28, 2021 in the name of Dr. Salim Saiyed, which was later changed to Saiyed Foundation on the very same day.
Simultaneously, Instagram account of Saiyed Foundation was also created during the same time.
It is rather peculiar that a foundation which was registered six years ago, which had no activity and hence no capability to carry out charity work, suddenly sprang to action during the Covid crisis – and the first thing it does is to start collecting money.
Contradictions in claims made by Saiyed Foundation and Az Memon
While Az Memon was rather quick and detailed about his updates till the collaboration with Saiyed Foundation/ IMANA, the later were not so. Saiyed Foundation, like IMANA, had made several claims which were not backed by subsequent events.
- Sent 120 out of 150 oxygen concentrators claimed: Az Memon in association with Saiyed Foundation had claimed to have purchased a total of 150 Oxygen concentrators. The same update was also posted on the Launch Good campaign of Saiyed Foundation. However, the only delivery they made – was to GSWT in Ahmedabad – and the figures don’t seem to tally with their total delivery.
Az Memon had already purchased 25 Concentrators when Saiyed foundation joined him. Together they further purchase 125 Oxygen Concentrators, with Saiyed Foundation also collecting funds on Launch Good. With all their efforts and the fund collected, they only managed to send 120 Oxygen Concentrators after three weeks to an NGO based out of Gujarat, which itself seems to be in grey.
The above items were purchased from $76k = INR 55 L approx. collected. Worth noting that Saiyed Foundation also thanked IMANA for this help, which had purchased hundreds of its own Oxygen concentrators and other material. With all the fund, Az Memon, Saiyed Foundation, and IMANA sent 100 Oxygen concentrators to GSWT on May 12th.
Az Memon also thanked the following organizations for the delivery:
GSWT claimed to have distributed them to 14 healthcare hospitals across Ahmedabad.
Gujarat Sarvajanik Welfare Trust(GSWT)
Gujarat Sarvajanik Welfare Trust (GSWT) is Ahmedabad based charitable trust (Registration No. E15454/Ahmedabad), owns several institutions such as Shama Hostel & Shifa Hospital. Afzal Memon (not to confuse with the one who raised funds) is the Managing Trustee of GSWT.
It is also worth noting that GSWT is not an FCRA- approved NGO, and hence not allowed to receive foreign funding and donations in the normal course.
GSWT once also stated that they were applying for FCRA every year since 2003. But have always met with the application of refusal considering their activities against public interest.
Help Arrives in India: Too Late, Too Little
As per IMANA’s social media post updates, the IMANA-Saiyed Foundation combined the help of 100 Oxygen Concentrators landed at the Shama Hostel, which is a girls’ hostel being run by GSWT. As per their claim, these Concentrators were to be used at Shifa hospital, run by GSWT.
Unfortunately, on April 26, 2021 the Shifa Hospital was in news for all wrong reasons. During the peak of crisis, three people including a staff of Shifa Hospital were found to have been indulged in the illegal sale of Remdesivir. All of them were arrested following the incident.
GSWT in its response stated it had no involvement in the incidents, alleging that it was a stunt pulled off by some vindictive body along with the media. But they did not provide any evidence.
In a Nutshell
- IMANA collected money in the name of Covid crisis in India from all over the world, including from countries where India had sent Covid vaccines, and thereby exploiting the goodwill that India and the Indians have.
- IMANA remained opaque about everything, from fund collection to its actual deliveries. Its Chairman nonetheless seems capable of fluent lie in fluent English, who claimed to have robust ground network of ‘Hindu and Sikh’ friends. (Only he could explain the point of emphasising religions). He was also in touch with DRDO and Indian Ministry of Agriculture for distributing the help (sic).
- However, in terms of delivery, till date they could manage 100-odd concentrators (that too in association with Saiyed Foundation which itself was collecting funds for same.) And at the end, the help is sent to GSWT affiliated Shifa Hospital, whose staff was arrested for illegal activities related to essential medicines during the crisis.
IMANA’s History of Fakery
As noted above, IMANA is rather charitable with its own claims of charities, and adds to the list activities that it has never undertaken.
One of the major claims stated on its website is that IMANA has carried out several charity works in different parts of India. However, if one were to look closer, one finds no mentioned of any details whatsoever about the beneficiaries. The claims are so vague as to make no sense at all – e.g., financially supported Women’s Health Centre (Salmah Hospital). Where the hospital is, and how many women benefitted is not worth noting for an NGO that relies on fund collection based on its charity!
If IMANA is to continue to work even after this Report, they must hire a better fiction writer.
The above-mentioned fake claims are not merely an act of omissions or lazy drafting. This linguistic jugglery is hard to replicate in numbers, and their financial record confirm that NOT a penny was spent in India between 2016-19.
Their grants and assistance outside the United States does mention countries like Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan but not India.
IMANA also claims to have a diabetic lab in Hyderabad but even that does not get mention in their financial statements.
The Charade goes Deeper
As noted above, the one place they have mentioned in their report is Kashmir, and here is the truth: As per the “Donate India” section on IMANA’s website they have claimed to have worked provided aid every year since 2009.
The picture dates back to the Kashmir floods in 2014 when a Kashmir-based organization Child Nurture and Relief (CHINAR) provided the on-ground relief and aid with several collaborations.
Done with India- Off to Gaza
As soon the Covid crisis in India started ebbing, the good charity organization that IMANA is, it set to help the people in crisis in Palestine, and launched what it is very good at – a fund-raiser in the name of Gaza!
IMANA started fundraiser for Gaza on May 18, 2021 (Facebook) and has so far managed to raise Rs. 3,48,837 + Rs. 13,19,603= Rs. 16,68,440 combined from both Facebook and Instagram alone, other than what it might have received though other channels and direct contributions.
In one of their Facebook posts of 19th May, IMANA had claimed it has provided $2 million worth of medical help in Gaza as well as meals to 12000 people. The total collection IMANA managed to collect for the plight of Gaza barely crossed $23k!
What Could have been done
Watching the tragedy unfold: From Distance
To put in context the scam IMANA pulled off during a colossal humanitarian crisis in India, it suffices to see what several other individuals and organizations did at the most crucial time. Several brave hearts fought the fear of Covid and despite having no substantial means of their own, contributed to the cause. A heart-touching story of human daring was that of Faiz, which was highlighted by NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar as well.
Several other stories, such as cremation of Hindu man by Muslim and Christian neighbours was noted by the Quint in Bengaluru, whereas Shahnawaz Shaiek sold his SUV to donate Oxygen cylinders to COVID patients, as per the Al-Jazeera report.
In addition, hundreds of small organizations – from Jama Masjid  in Lucknow, to ISKON Temples, to Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib to Rehman Trust – all came forward with their own resources to help the needy. If only the same fund was available to other organizations instead of being siphoned off by IMANA, it could have meant a great deal help at the time of crisis.
What IMANA claimed, delivered – And could have delivered
The tactic of fundraising on Instagram seems to have worked well for IMANA. With over 62k donors just on Instagram, they accumulated over Rs. 8.7 crores on one platform alone, and over $298k on Just Giving crowdfunding platform. As mentioned by Dr Mehr, IMANA’s chairman, the amount they collected could be tens of millions of dollars, including what they received through cryptocurrency, company stocks, and direct contribution.
The following table has an accounted detail of all the consignments IMANA claimed to send India since April 29 – and how much actually has arrived – including in association with Saiyed Foundation.
What IMANA could have delivered?
The Crisis: A feast of Vultures
A Party for All
IMANA was not the only organization stealing funds in name of crisis in India. There were many. It was one-in-a-century crisis, and they knew how much they could milch it. It was also an opportunity to capitalise on India’s and Indian’s goodwill world over. And they did capitalise.
During the last counting, one fund-raising platform alone (Launch Good), there were about 66 fund raising campaigns being run in name of India. The tally on other platforms would be similar, and this does not even take into account various ads being run on various social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google and so forth.
These platforms vary in terms of transparency, from total opaque to somewhat transparent, but none provide a robust mechanism to restore the trust of donor.
Shady Organizations Raising Funds on India’s Goodwill
As noted, maximum campaigns seem to have been run on Launch Good, which also happens to be the least transparent platform. Some of the major organizations have collected funds on Launch Good include- ICNA Relief Canada, Human Concern International (Canada), Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), and Islamic Relief UK.
- Helping Hand for Relief and Development USA (HHRD)
HHRD, despite being exposed repeatedly, and most recently by our previous Report, also managed to exploit the Covid crisis to collect funds. HHRD had launched a fund collection drive on Launch Good #StrugglingToBreath; and so far, seems to have collected about $40 k (out of a projected target of $ 80k).
HHRD is the international front of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Relief USA. HHRD and ICNA charities, which ran the disinformation campaign against India after New Delhi revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state, are self-identified US charities of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jel) based out of Pakistan. HHRD had done 214 different projects with Al-Khidmat in the past.
It is under the guise of international aid, has openly worked with U.S. designated terrorist organizations in the disputed region of Kashmir. (Refer to chapter 7 of the USCIRF report by DisInfo Lab). In Dec 2017, HHRD organized a conference in Pakistan. Other organizations sponsoring the event included the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, the charitable wing of the Pakistani terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba. HHRD also held another conference in Pakistan which was sponsored by Al-Khidmat, the official charity wing of Jel.
Besides, HHRD claims that it works with ‘Muslim Charity Hospital’ in Hyderabad and ‘Bachon Ka Ghar’ orphanage in Aligarh. HHRD also claimed to have worked in India with local partners NGOs through Orphan Support, Education Support, Skills Development and Livelihood. However, despite this illustrious background, and raising $30k in name of India, they did not provide any details of their ‘charity’ work in India during the Covid crisis.
- ICNA Relief Canada
It was touching to see that another ICNA fronts too wanted to help India! ICNA Relief Canada (IRC) is an off-shoot of ICNA Canada (company no. 4292456 and Business ID: 843455478RC000) is yet another organization which wishes to help India during Covid crisis.
ICNA Relief Canada launched a Fund-raiser to help India on April 28, 2021. It has so far raised $1239 out of $5000 CAD for the cause of tackling COVID-19 crisis in India.
They also claimed to be collaborating with Human Welfare Trust (HWT) in India to provide medical equipment, hygiene kits, and food packages. They claimed to have built two floors (50 beds) for Al-Shifa Hospital (Delhi).
However, there was no proof about their contributions. In fact, during the inauguration of the new floors of the hospital, there is no mention of ICNA Relief Canada but a UAE based Aster DM healthcare.
3. Human Concern International
Human Concern International is another Canada-based NGO that started two campaigns during the ongoing COVID-19 in India – one on 17th April, 2021 and another on 5th May, 2021. HCI has so far seemed to have collected about CAD 18k for its intended charity in India. However, like other of its sister organizations, there is no details about any help that might actually have reached India.
Human Concern International is a Canada-based NGO founded in 1980 (Company No. 2095149 & Business No. 107497125RC0001). The purpose behind the creation of HCI was to provide humanitarian relief in Afghanistan. However, in past they reported to have had links with Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida.
CBC News Canada had reported that Ahmed Said Khadr, the first head of Pakistan desk of Human Concern International had links with militant and Mujahideen leaders in Afghanistan. He was also accused of financing Al Qaida during his tenure.
In July 2019, counter-terrorism forces of Pakistan arrested Ali Nawaz, the head of Human Concern International (Pakistan office) for funding Al Qaeda militants.
The involvement in Pakistan goes up to its establishment. Former Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand was also accused of financing terrorism during the arrest of Ali Nawaz back in 2019. His association was also present with Human Concern International, as per Pakistani media Dawn. However, both Nawaz and Mohmand, along with four others in June 2020.
HCI board of members
Neither pictures, nor the basic information of board members of Human Concern International is available on their official website. However, as per a public listing of the organization, following names have popped up:
YAZAN NASREDDING (EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR)
MUMTAZ AKHTAR (CHAIRPERSON)
ISHTIAQ SALIM (VICE CHAIRPERSON)
Revenues and Expenses
As per a 2020 filing by HCI – it had a revenue of $ 5 million! (INR 30 Cr). Out of which it pays $ 4 lakh approx. as salaries. Other than whatever is saved from funding Al Qaeda or other terrorists, the remaining money is distributed amongst the executives.
- Human Concern International Annual report 2020:
- Human Concern International Tax Filing details:
However, despite such coffers and despite the donations taken in name of helping India, there has
been no details about where actually the help has gone. One can only imagine, and shudder.
HCI usually works with Council of Gujarati Canadians and Jamia Islamia Ishatul Uloom, Maharashtra (FCRA approved). Last year in July, HCI had also conducted a fundraise campaign with Council of Gujarati Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this time around, they didn’t bother to given any such update on collaboration.
A Loot for All
Not only the crocodiles, Covid crisis in India became a golden opportunity for even smaller fish to fill their coffers, which are likely to be used against India itself. Following is some of the other organizations that have been running fund-raisers – Either some with questionable background, or legally not registered/FCRA approved.
List of Non-approved FCRA and & Non-registered NGOs working with fundraising NGOs on LaunchGood
- Launch Good gives space to the NGOs who don’t provide any transparency in their objective, collaborating partners, organizer details etc.
- And, there is no feature to report suspicious fund raising!
- There were 23 organizations that do not have any credible collaborative partner/ vetted local regional NGOs in India. Some local NGOs either did not have proper registration number or were not FCRA approved.
- Some NGOs like Human Concern International, Ilm Feed (Islamic Relief UK), and HHRD have been running several parallel campaigns.
- Total amount of funds raised in the name of India through these small fund-raisers alone is US$1.2mn or Rs. 8.8 crores (INR). Out of which, US$ 839, 884 (Rs. 6.13 crores INR) has been raised just in the name of COVID-19 crisis in India.
The following table comprises of the NGOs/Organizations who either do not have FCRA, or the partner NGOs are not registered. The list also contains the NGOs who have not provided any transparency on their partner organizations.
Launch Good: So bad for India
It is not a coincidence that one of the most preferred platforms for siphoning India’s money was Launch good. Ever since its official launch, the platform has emerged as the Silicon Valley for all the fund-raising NGOs and organizations that serve only one community all over the world.
Silicon valley of Fundraisers
Launch Good is a crowdfunding platform that got incorporated on December 30, 2014 (Company no. 5665851) is based Kent, Detroit.
But they claim to have officially launched in 2013 as per their “About Us” section. The LinkedIn bio of its founder Chris “Abdur Rahman Blauvelt” also states the same.
The purpose behind creating this organization is to serve Muslim community worldwide via crowdfunding and providing aid. And as per the website, Launch Good has helped in raising over $243.8M US in 149 countries with over 30.5K campaigns since its advent.
The Organization and people
- Chris Abdur Rahman Blauvelt-
Chris Abdur Rahman is the founder and CEO of Launch Good. Chris was born as Christian who later converted his religion to Muslim at the age of 16. Turns out, he has been associated with Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). He attended the 52nd convention of ISNA in 2015, just a few months after the incorporation of Launch Good.
2. Omar Hamid
Omar Hamid is a resident of Georgia one of the core members of Launch Good. He was one of the donors of IMANA in 2018.
3. Amany Killawi
Amany Killawi is one of the co-founders and director of Launch Good. She was one of the speakers at the 53rd convention of ISNA in 2016. Moreover, she is also the founder of Detroit Minds and Hearts Fellowship (a program of MAS Youth Detroit)
Help India Bleed
A Chip off the Old Block
On the face of it all the above-mentioned frauds in the name of Covid crisis would look like yet another financial crime, albeit of a much heinous nature. As there was no dearth of individual heroics during crisis, there was also no dearth of vultures who were feasting upon the crisis – from illegal sell of medicines to hoarding of other critical resources.
However, the Covid Aid Scam 2021 has a much sinister agenda than merely looting the money. It is where the money could be spent that should raise concerns in India.
IMANA is one of the largest Muslim medical healthcare organization in North America. And while it does maintain a façade of charity, IMANA’s background provides a good insight about the nature and potential utilization of the Covid aid scam it has carried out in India.
IMANA espouses the idea of Islamic Shura Council and Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). It has also worked with “Justice for All” which we have already covered in the USCIRF report.
IMANA was formed by an Islamic umbrella organization of North America- Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which in turn was a revamped product of Muslim Students’ Association (MSA).
Moreover, the founding members of IMANA were also the core members of ISNA at the time of its inception.
- Dr. Bashir Zikiria- Laid the foundation of IMANA and served as its president from 1969-1971.
- Dr. M Basheer Ahmed (President 1978-79)- Associated with IMANA since its formation from MSA.
- Prof. Khalid Jahangir Qazi– Lifetime member of ISNA and IMANA. He played a pivotal role in guiding the major expansion of IMANA’s international conventions.
In short, most of the members of IMANA have direct affiliations with ISNA. Recently, IMANA attended the 54th convention of ISNA in 2017. First President of IMANA, Dr. Bashir Zikiria also attended the event.
What is ISNA and Why it Matters?
Again, like its brainchild IMANA, Islamic Circle of North America (ISNA) also projects itself as a charity and advocacy organization, but, has strong organic relations with radical Islamist and terror groups!
In 2017, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audited ISNA’s books for two years between January 1, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2009 and found shocking details. The ISNA-established Jami Mosque that was used for terror funding to Relief Organization for Kashmiri Muslims (ROKM) – A charitable arm of Jamaat-e-lslami, Pakistan. Subsequent to findings, CRA revoked the charity status of ISNA for distributing over $280,000 to an organization, which was linked to a terrorist organization in Pakistan, such as Hizbul Mujahideen. 
As a clever ploy, the ISNA dissociated itself with ISNA-Canada, claimed “no official tie”. However, following facts establish beyond doubt the organic relationship between the sister concerns:
- ISNA Bylaws specifically include a Canadian ISNA official. The current ISNA Canada head is also in charge of major ISNA projects in the U.S. 
- ISNA conferences introduce ISNA Canada officials as organizing officials. 
- ISNA Canada President (2009) Dr. Mohammed Bekkari has also served as the executive director of ISNA USA. 
- ISNA Canada’s Mission statement (archive 2004) clearly states their main motive is to work for ISNA North America. 
The Hamas Connection
ISNA’s terror funding networks do not only reach in India’s neighborhood, but spread world over. ISNA has been alleged to have financed terror activities of Hamas. 
In addition, IMANA/ ISNA have also been funding Al-Khidmat Foundation, which apart from being the ‘charity wing’ of JeI, has also been funding Hamas. Another organization Holy Land Foundation is banned USA due to its link with HAMAS.  Its connection is found with ISNA.
IMANA and Pak Military Links (Milbus)
IMANA provides ‘help’ to Pakistan through Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust (AMT), according to IMANA Care 2020 Annual Report. The AMT is nothing but part of Pakistan’s Milbus ‘military capital’, that is used for the personal benefit of the Pak Army fraternity, especially the officer cadre, but is neither recorded nor part of the defence budget.
Should there be any confusion about the AMT of having all characteristics of an Milbus organization – its whole office management is run by the retired Army, Navy & Air Force personnel.
- Office management of Al Mustafa Trust
- Executive committee of Al Mustafa Trust
- Trustees of Al Mustafa Trust
And AMT Chairman profusely thanks IMANA’s Operations Director Zahid Mahmood  for the financial support provided to Pakistan during Covid-19.  IMANA’s Director of Operations – Zahid Mahmood is the Ex-Pakistani Naval Officer who has also served in Pakistan International Airlines. So basically, IMANA is not assisting Milbus, but it might be the Milbus that is ‘assisting’ IMANA.
The Same Circle of Hell
IMANA’s network is not limited to just ISNA. Its previous Board Members who held high positions at IMANA included high functionaries from other organizations including ICNA, Justice for All, and Sound Vision – which again were found to have deep nexus with Pak based terror outfits.
IMANA and Justice for ALL: The Sound Vision Managing Director and President of Islamist group Justice for All, Khursheed Mallik  was the Executive Director of IMANA during the 1980s.
Khursheed Mallick was also the co-chairman of the body at the time of the 34th Annual & 6th International Convention TEHRAN — IRAN.
IMANA and IAMC– Rasheed Ahmed, the present Executive Director of Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) was also the Executive Director of IMANA until 2017. He served there for nine years between November 2008-October 2017. IAMC, as exposed in our previous report, has managed to infiltrate US Commission for International Religious Freedom.
Another name that has played a significant role in pushing anti-India narratives is Dr. Shaik Mohammad Ubaid, the founder of IAMC. Dr Ubaid was the ‘Pokesman’ (sic) of IMANA. 
IMANA – Al Khidmat
Al-Khidmat has extensive ties with Hamas. 
When ISNA was incorporated on July 14, 1981, its official location was listed as 6555 South County Road 750 East, in Plainfield, Indiana. At the time, that same address was also used by MSA. Eventually, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF)—the U.S.-based financing wing of Hamas—would share the address as well. The complex that first housed ISNA’s operations—built by the North American Islamic Trust in the late 1970s and early 1980s—featured a $3.5 million mosque, an 80,000volume library, and a research centre. Funding for these facilities included a combined $21 million from the emir of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood leaders Yusef Qaradawi and Youssef Nada.
ISNA’s three incorporators were listed as: (a) Mahmoud Rashdan, former Secretary General of MSA; (b) Talat Sultan, who later served as president of the Islamic Circle of North America; and (c) Iqbal Unus, a former member of MSA’s General Secretariat who later served stints as president of the Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers (a subsidiary of ISNA), Dean of students at the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences, Headquarters Director of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, Secretary General of ISNA, and managing editor of ISNA’s Islamic Horizons magazine.
Global Tentacles – with Individual Country Chapters: IMANA – FIMA – PIMA
FIMA (Federation of Islamic Medical Associations) is the brainchild of the late Drs Ahmed El-Kadi and M.A.A. Khan, which was started at the Annual Convention of IMANA in1981 in Florida. Its aim was to provide “valuable platform for networking amongst professionals around the globe and also helping provide much-needed care to the ones who need it the most”. Dr Ahmed El-Kadi, who was IMANA President during 1974-75, is the former head of Muslim Brotherhood. 
PIMA & Jamaat Affiliation
FIMA – the Federation – has several associates, one of them being from Pakistan-PIMA (Pakistan Islamic Medical Association) . PIMA was formed in Oct 1979. PIMA claims to be a forum for Muslim medical professionals who provide relief to oppressed humanity in Pakistan and around the globe. Its current president is Prof. Muhammad Afzal Mian.
But PIMA is affiliate JeI of Pakistan, Al-Khidmat, HM and Al-Qaeda. Surprise!
PIMA is the subsidiary of JeI and sister organization of Al-Khidmat. In other words, Al-Khidmat & PIMA are working under the umbrella of JeI. It is the same Al-Khidmat which recieves donation from IMANA.
Members of PIMA has shown ties with different terrorist organizations. Prominent names among them are Hizbul Mujahideen headed by Syed Salahuddin  & Al-Qaeda. 
Funds worth tens of crores donated by well-meaning people world over to help India in crisis – has been stolen. There is no accountability and in the present globalised world, no mechanism to ensure any accountability. Funds, which in right hands would have saved so many lives. What is most tragic about the whole episode is that several of these organizations had no intention of doing even symbolic help to begin with.
The Covid Scam 2021 was not merely a financial fraud. It was a sophisticated operation put in place.
This whole farce pulled out by the so-called charity organizations was not merely a financial fraud but it was crime against humanity at multiple levels. The Sinister designs to target India had been put in place to damage simultaneously from several angles.
- Mopping up crucial fund at a critical time which could have saved lives, thereby further perpetuating the crisis.
- Exploiting the goodwill that India and Indians have acquired world over.
- Through donation and advertisement campaigns further amplifying the crisis in India.
- Despite their criminal agenda, presenting themselves as saviours and creating goodwill in India and abroad for future activities.
- Likely using these funds to other sinister activities, which in turn are going to target India again.
- Worth noting that on April 26th, US President Biden had made a public appeal – that India had helped the US in its crisis, and now it was the US’ turn to help. And lo and behold, several fund-raisers were set-up on April 27th and 28th in the US – by Islamists organizations being run from Pakistan.
- It was one nice way to #StandWithIndia that the Pakistan establishment was showing – and which melted several of our strategic expert celebrities! Touché!
This crisis and the scam have provided a window into the design and capabilities these entities have acquired over a period of time to target India. The sheer scale of this exercise is mind-numbing. It is obvious that this machinery has managed to create an eco-system which is self-sustainable from funding to marketing to delivery – entities having close ties with radical Islamists and terrorists’ organizations, and being run in cahoots with Pakistan army, managed to raise funds in the name of India exploiting India’s hard-earned goodwill.
Most of all, the fund-raising platforms as well as social media platforms need to be more transparent about how do they deal with such activities, while continued to provide means for genuine organizations to do the good work. If small OSINT teams and individuals are able to find the linkages, it may not be difficult for trillion-dollar companies, though It remains to be seen what actions are followed about the money that has already been stolen and likely to go in wrong hands.
It is also high time that governments – from USA to India – take note of this terror-funding money making machinery and provide some mechanism to ensure transparency from these groups. It is worth mentioning that FATF has already raised this concern that lot of funding in the name of Covid is likely to go towards terror funding. Given the scale of network of one set of organizations, the scale of total terror funding could only be imagined.
It is important to keep in mind that these organizations, many of which claim to be working for Muslim interests, essentially rob their money by grabbing a major share of Zakat donations, which are then used for advancing political-strategic agenda of a State, rather than helping the larger Muslim community. A good amount of money is also diverted to terror funding. In the process, a group of people have been running a business of nepotism, where their children and other family persons continue to run these organizations and reap the benefits of the donations that poor Muslim’s world over have contributed, believing it to be their duty.
It is also a good time to recall the story of Baba Bharati and his horse.
Long-long ago Baba Bharti had beautiful horse Sultan, who was also sought by the rich dacoit Kharag Singh. He tried to cajole threatened and beg Baba Bharathi to give him the horse but Baba Bharathi wouldn’t concede. The horse was the dearest thing to him. One day, Kharag Singh disguised himself as a cripple old man, sat on the path that the Baba Bharti would takde daily. When Baba Bharathi approached; the disguised dacoit begged him to help travel. Baba Bharti was a good man. He got down from horse, and helped Kharag Singh climb it. However, no sooner Kharag climbed the horse, he pushed Baba Bharti and off with horse.
Rising from the ground, Baba Bharathi screamed from behind: O Kharag Singh, while you steal the horse, please do not tell this story to anyone, lest people lose faith in good deeds.
It is, therefore, important that this report is seen in this context – not as a blanket resentment against all good work done by several charity organizations but more as a reminder that in an earnest to help, we must not ignore to dig deeper about the organizations who claim to do charity.
While we were concluding the story, Dr Mehr of IMANA, having done and dusted his charity work, was found to have been gone to Gilgit for a vacation.
We were unnecessarily complaining that the Covid fund collected by IMANA has not helped anyone. At least, Dr Mehr has helped himself well.
- https://www.launchgood.com/campaign/help_india_covid_patients_breath_1?src=internal_comm_page#!/ (cache links)
- https://ngodarpan.gov.in/index.php/home/statewise_ngo/5666/24/53?per_page=100 (No. 24)
- Cam 1: https://www.launchgood.com/campaign/food_and_water_for_the_fasting_3?src=internal_discover#!/
Cam 2: https://www.launchgood.com/campaign/india_needs_oxygen_2#!/
- 2 link
- https://isna.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/ISNA-2020-Program-9.pdf (Page 4)
- https://www.google.co.in/books/edition/The_General_and_Jihad/FROoqAp2QJsC?hl =en&gbpv=1&dq=%22Pakistan+Islamic+Medical+Association%22+AND+Jamaat-e- Islam&pg=PT49&printsec=frontcover