Nearly two years ago, US Senator and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Chuck Grassley (R-IA) ordered the IRS to investigate 25 American Muslim organizations and charities which he claimed “finance terrorism and perpetuate violence”. However, observers did not have to wait for the results to pass their own judgement. Listed organizations were described as “terror-linked” and “terrorist sympathizers,” “controversial” groups with “disturbing connections” to terrorism.
References to groups such as ISNA – the most prominent and largest of the targeted groups – were prefaced by “government probe” and “under investigation,” thereby conferring on them the full damage of the accusation without bothering to wait for the outcome. That outcome came this week when Grassley announced that his committee “did not find anything alarming” in their probe, which concluded with no plans to issue a report, forward findings to law enforcement, or hold any additional hearings.
While the findings have been welcomed by ISNA and other investigated groups (and dismissed by terrorism investigator Steven Emerson), it does raise questions about government efforts to root out terror support in the US. Why give potential terrorists advance notice to hide records by publicly announcing an investigation? Is it really necessary to conduct a “scorched earth” campaign that leaves no Muslim organization untainted by the stench of terror accusations? And will we ever get past the mindset that says a Muslim organization is potentially linked to terror until proven otherwise?
Shahed Amanullah is editor-in-chief of altmuslim.com.