June 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Legislators Urge Revocation of Pro-Hamas Website’s Tax-Exempt Status Over Gaza Hostage Scandal

June 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Legislators Urge Revocation of Pro-Hamas Website’s Tax-Exempt Status Over Gaza Hostage Scandal

Latest Developments

The congressional committee responsible for writing tax law and raising revenue has called for the revocation of the non-profit status of a pro-Hamas website that listed a journalist accused of incarcerating three Israeli hostages at his Gaza home among its contributors.

In a June 10 letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Daniel Werfel, Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) — chair of the House Ways and Means Committee — urged the removal of the tax-exempt status of the “People Media Project,” which publishes the Palestine Chronicle online outlet. “Based on what is currently known, it is hard to imagine a result short of revocation of the People Media Project’s tax-exempt status,” Smith stated.

Noting the allegation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that the contributor, Abdullah Aljamal, had held three of the four Israeli hostages liberated in a daring rescue operation in Nusseirat in central Gaza on June 8, Smith argued that the People Media Project “is at the very least complicit in supporting Hamas, and at worst a full-fledged financier of terrorism in the Middle East.” He emphasized as well that the accusation against Aljamal, who was killed during the operation, “calls into question what People Media Project knew about its operations in the Gaza Strip, whether it ever did any due diligence on hiring Aljamal, whether it has other employees actively holding hostages in Gaza, and whether it employs other members of Hamas.”

Expert Analysis

“It is gratifying to see American legislators speedily and forcefully reach the conclusion that the Palestine Chronicle should no longer reap the benefits of its non-profit status. There is also the urgent question of whether this propaganda vehicle has breached U.S. laws proscribing Hamas, which was designated as a terrorist organization as far back as 1997. What is abundantly clear is that the Palestine Chronicle is not an independent outlet, but a cog in the wheel of Hamas’s global propaganda and disinformation campaign.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“On the face of it, these facts show the need to closely review the not-for-profit status of People Media Project. However, it shouldn’t have taken this incident to trigger action. A cursory review of the Palestine Chronicle and its key officials raises several obvious red flags. The question is, how many other groups are evading IRS and Treasury Department scrutiny?” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Palestine Chronicle Run by Former Al Jazeera Editor

Established in 1999 and registered in Olympia, WA., the Palestine Chronicle’s editor-in-chief is Ramzy Baroud, a former editor and executive with the Qatar-owned broadcasting network Al Jazeera. According to a June 10 Washington Free Beacon report, Baroud has written for Kayhan International, which is funded by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, while at least six other Palestine Chronicle writers have contributed to publications associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in April 2019.

Aljamal had been described by the Palestine Chronicle as a “correspondent” in the Gaza Strip, a word that was changed to “contributor” following his death. His substantial output included three articles published in June prior to his death, and 14 during the month of May. In its obituary of Aljamal, the Palestine Chronicle stridently denied both Israel’s charge that he held hostages at the behest of Hamas as well as the claim that he was a paid employee of the outlet. “Aljamal’s relationship with the Palestine Chronicle was that of a freelance contributor. He was neither a staff writer nor a contractor. Aljamal has contributed his services to the Palestine Chronicle on a voluntary basis,” the obituary stated.

In addition to the Palestine Chronicle, Aljamal reportedly had served as a spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Labor in Gaza and contributed to several other publications. Aljamal wrote one opinion article for Al Jazeera in 2019. The network has denied that Aljamal was an employee, with its Jerusalem bureau chief, Omar al-Walid, claiming: “This man is not from Al Jazeera, and he did not work for Al Jazeera at all, and he is not listed as working for Al Jazeera neither now nor in the past.”

Other U.S. legislators echoed the Ways and Means Committee’s demand of the IRS. “Three of the Israeli hostages freed over the weekend were held by a contributor to the Palestine Chronicle, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the U.S.,” Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN) wrote on X. “Under no circumstances should an organization supporting Hamas have tax-exempt status.” Kustoff added that anti-terrorism legislation he co-sponsored with Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) “would revoke their tax-exempt status.”

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) declared in a post on X that “No US organizations should have tax exempt status while simultaneously having terrorists on payroll. The Biden Admin must investigate this immediately and revoke the Chronicle’s 501(c)(3) status.”

“Hamas ‘Reporter’ Doubles as Captor,” FDD Flash Brief

“IDF Liberates Four Hostages Abducted by Hamas on October 7,” FDD Flash Brief

One-Third Of Hostages In Gaza Believed Dead,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Disinformation Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power Palestinian Politics