In comments submitted to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Charity & Security Network urges the agency to use the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) as a vehicle for incentivizing banks to provide financial services to nonprofit organizations (NPOs).
The Latest News
The Charity and Security Network monitors U.S. and foreign government activities and a wide range of news sources to identify developments in national security policy that impact civil society and nonprofit organizations. We collect and disseminate relevant information on our website, via our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and through our biweekly email newsletter, which contains links to a variety of news articles. To read the most recent issues of our email newsletter or to subscribe, click here.
Our staff also creates news pieces on events and developments of particular interest to our members that are not covered in other news outlets. Those stories can be found below, in revese chronological order.
In late August 2018 the Zionist Advocacy Center (TZAC), which is spearheading legal tactics aimed at NPOs working in Palestine, announced via facebook that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rejected its effort to revoke the charitable, tax-exempt status of Doctors Without Borders’ (MSF - Medecins Sans Frontiers). The IRS does not publish its decisions in such cases, but TZAC’s complaint, minus the appendices, is available in a 2016 news story from War News Information Press. It argues that by working with the Ministry of Health in Gaza to provide hospital services MSF provided material support to Hamas, because the Ministry of Health is part of the Hamas-ruled local government in Gaza. A source at MSF said it had no information about the complaint.
The House Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance heard testimony from five expert witnesses in a hearing entitled Survey of Terrorist Groups and Their Means of Financing on September 7 2018. Ms. Katherine Bauer of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy noted that “critics are right to highlight the high costs of anti-money laundering and CFT regulation…and the need to better balance some of the competing but equally important priorities, such as the efficient delivery of timely humanitarian aid.”
The Charity & Security Network (C&SN) responded to misinformation in statements about nonprofit organizations (NPOs) made in a July 11 hearing in the National Security Committee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in an Aug. 14 letter, saying such statements “inaccurately and unfairly portray the U.S. charitable sector as a source of terrorist financing. Such statements undermine the important work U.S. NPOs do around the world and fail to recognize the high levels of transparency, oversight and good governance they employ.” The letter addressed three main problematic themes from the hearing in detail:
- Asserting that, because Treasury has not designated any U.S. NPOs as supporters of terrorism since January 2009, there is a problem of lax enforcement. This ignores the vigilance of law enforcement as well as the charitable sector’s due diligence and good governance practices.
- Citing the criminal prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation as a model for government action against NPOs, despite the numerous and serious legal issues that render that case an outlier.
- Uncritically citing conclusions in the Middle East Forum’s June 2018 report on Islamic Relief USA as fact, when assessment of key allegations demonstrate that the report is based on inadequate background research and uses faulty logic.
In addition, Islamic Relief USA, which was a special target of misinformation and mischaracterization of facts, published a rebuttal on its website. The C&SN letter noted that, “Overall, the hearing gave the impression that Muslim NPOs are to be targeted based on their ethnic and/or religious associations, rather than on conduct that threatens national security.”
Although the primary focus of a July 11, 2018 House hearing on “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Global Threat” was on foreign organizations, the testimony of several witnesses raised the specter of a coordinated campaign against U.S. Muslim humanitarian and civil rights organizations. Many statements in the hearing reflected outdated and often discredited assumptions about how they operate. In the hearing, conducted by the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, subcommittee members and witnesses sharply disagreed about whether the Muslim Brotherhood presents a unified threat to the U.S. and what the foreign and national security policy approach should be. The video of the hearing is here.