Expert Links KindHearts to Terrorism

TOLEDO -- A world renowned terrorism expert shed some light on the Toledo-based charity now accused of funneling money to terrorists.  Federal agents raided KindHearts, based in an office building near Secor and Central, last weekend, closing the office and freezing its assets.  US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said the investigation into KindHearts is separate from the terror arrests of three Toledo men this week, but the two investigations are coordinated.

Steven Emerson is a national security expert who testified in front of U.S. senators specifically referencing the Toledo-based KindHearts organization. Emerson's testimony given just this past summer said "there is evidence KindHearts may possibly be filling the void created by the closing of the Holy Land Foundation" or HLF.

He said a Hamas leader decided that HLF would serve as the primary fundraising arm of Hamas in the U.S. Emerson's testimony he states, "Khalid Smaili, Founder and CEO of KindHearts, also served as the public relations representative for the Global Relief Foundation. The U.S. government shut down ( the Global Relief Foundation) on December 14, 2001 for financially supporting Hamas and al-Qaeda."

On its website, KindHearts states it's nothing more than a charitable organization. "KindHearts has always maintained its innocence," said Jihad Smaili an attorney representing KindHearts. "[KindHearts] has no affiliations to any government and it is there just to help the needy," he added. However, Emerson further reported "...KindHearts appears to have assumed the close relationship with the Islamic Association for Palestine..." also known as IAP. Emerson said "KindHearts lists the Islamic Association for Palestine as its 'fundraiser organizer' in its tax exemption filings..."

Emerson testified "the IAP has a long history of links to Middle East terrorism and its financial support. A 2001 INS memo extensively documented IAP's support for Hamas..." to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. And a man named "...Abdelbaset Hemayel - who has served as the IAP's Director and Secretary General - is listed as KindHearts' representative in Illinois and Wisconsin..."

"There's been no evidence," said Attorney Smaili. "There's been no specifics given...and we know for sure that KindHearts does not do these things. We know for sure that it's wrong," he told News 11.

But Emerson also told senators "other KindHearts representatives have been linked with radical Muslim groups in the U.S. ... (a) KindHearts the Islamic Center of Tucson...the ICT was one of the U.S. satellite offices of (a group that was) the precursor organization to al-Quaeda...founded by...Osama Bin Laden..." among others.

Emerson's report goes on to say, "KindHearts has received funds from a controversial organization, the Mosque Foundation. The Mosque Foundation is intimately linked to Hamas... According to its spring 2004 newsletter, KindHearts honored the Mosque Foundation with its 'Mosque of the Year in recognition of their members' tremendous support.'"

Emerson also testified that the "Mosque Foundation made sizable donations to other organizations later shut down by the U.S. government for funding terrorism..."

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Posted by AEB