MONTREAL — A Muslim umbrella organization that allegedly funnelled money to a Hamas-linked charity is buying up property from Quebec to Alberta.
QMI Agency conducted land-register searches that show the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), based in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, has bought at least 11 buildings in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta since 2006.
They’re being converted into mosques, community centres and schools as the group’s financial dealings catch the attention of the RCMP.
The group was named in a search warrant related to Project Sapphire, a probe into terrorist financing. Warrants indicates MAC sent nearly $300,000 in the 2000s to IRFAN-Canada, a group that raised millions for Hamas.
The Canadian government considers both IRFAN-Canada and Hamas to be terrorist organizations.
The Muslim Association of Canada remained a registered charity as of this week, having reported $16.1 million in revenues, and a nearly $5.8 million payroll, in 2013.
The group says its mission is to “establish an Islamic presence in Canada that is balanced, constructive, and integrated, though distinct.”
Establishing that presence has included buying up more than $30 million of land and buildings across the country.
Two mosques in north-end Montreal were donated for free. The MAC Islamic Centre of Cold Lake, Alta., was purchased in November 2013 and assessed the following year at $220,900.
The largest known MAC acquisition is a six-storey, $4.7-million building in Montreal’s financial district that will house the Canadian Institute of Islamic Civilization.
The deal was closed last May and the institute will feature a library, a museum and “the largest mosque in downtown Montreal,” according to its website.
Recent calls to MAC have not been returned.
In November, QMI Agency went to a Muslim school in Montreal and spoke with Lazhar Aissaoui, who as recently as 2010 was listed as MAC’s treasurer in online tax records. Aissaoui denied any current ties to the MAC and would not discuss the group’s donations to IRFAN-Canada.
Meanwhile, MAC’s expansion continues, with new facilities planned for Mississauga and Quebec City.
Tax records show the value of MAC’s land and buildings in Canada doubled between 2009 and 2013.
They run the gamut from Masjid Toronto, a large downtown mosque frequented by hundreds every week, to places as small as a bungalow and two-car garage that doubles as the Islamic Centre of Waterloo, Ont.
The facilities have become hubs of prayer, Qu’ranic studies and sports activities for Muslims across Canada.
Other activities at MAC mosques aren’t as innocuous.
Imam Ekrima Sabri, former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, drew hundreds to the Laurentien cultural centre, a MAC facility in north-end Montreal, on April 7, 2009.
B’nai Brith tried to stop Sabri from speaking in Mississauga later that year, condemning the ex-mufti’s “long history of promoting hatred against Jews.”
Sabri, twice denied entry into the Netherlands, has denied the Holocaust, called Jews “cowardly creatures” and defended child suicide bombers.
“The younger the martyr, the greater and the more I respect him,” Sabri told Egypt’s Al-Ahram Al-Ahrabi newspaper in 2000.
In 2011, Laurentien cultural centre also hosted Abdurraheem Green, founder of the British-based Islamic Education and Research Academy. The British convert was barred from Australia and Quebec politicians tried and failed to have him banned from Canada as well.
A Sept. 11, 2012, video shows Green saying: “Why do you chop the hand off the thief? Why do you stone the adulterer and adultress to death? All of this is to deter the people from being evil or committing evil.”
In a 2006 blog entry, Green indicated that women who commit adultery deserve a “slow and painful death by stoning.-
In a 2005 interview with The New Zealand Herald, Abdurraheem admitted he once wrote: “dying while fighting jihad is one of the surest ways to paradise and Allah’s good pleasure.”
–With files from Hugo Joncas
MAC Real-Estate Expansion, year-by-year
Canadian Institute of Islamic Civilization
Montreal (under construction)
Purchased for $4.7 million
MAC Islamic Centre of Cold Lake (AB)
2014 assessment: $220,900.
Masjid Toronto at Adelaide
Purchased as a satellite to main Dundas mosque
MAC Islamic School
2015 assessment: $1,517,500
Centre Islamique de Verdun
Purchased for $950,000
Masjid Toronto at Dundas
Purchased from RBC following a six-year lease
Abu Bakr Siddique mosque
Purchased for $868,000
MAC Youth Centre
2014 assessment: $839,890
Rose City Islamic Centre
2015 assessment: $7,546,000
2015 assessment: $6,820,000
Laurentien Community Centre
Purchased for $1 million
MAC Quebec Al-Rahma mosque
Rented space. Building project underway.
Muslim Association of Canada in 2013
- Assets: $39,392,234
- Liabilities: 8,254,913
- Revenues: $16,184,942
- Land and buildings in Canada: $30,891,955
Progressive value of MAC land and buildings in Canada
- 2009: $ 16,329,624
- 2010: $ 24,823,655
- 2011: $ 28,912,281
- 2012: $ 30,992,562
- 2013: $ 30,891,955
Source: Canada Revenue Agency