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Islamic charity tied to NH resort run by gubernatorial candidate Sununu

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 28. 2016 8:47PM

CHRIS SUNUNU 



A principal investor in the Waterville Valley resort Republican candidate for governor Chris Sununu promotes as wholly under “local control” is high up in an Islamic charity once investigated for funneling money to terrorists.

The same charity executive, Yacub Mirza, is also tied to three companies that together gave Sununu’s campaign $1,500 on the same day earlier this month.

According to 2015 IRS documents the New Hampshire Union Leader has obtained, the Herndon, Va.-based, SAFA Trust has a 14.1 percent ownership share in Waterville Valley Holdings.

Mirza earned $225,000 from the SAFA Trust in 2015 as its vice president and secretary.

While federal officials raided the group in 2002 for suspected financing of money to terrorists, it has never been charged.

It still operates today.

In a 2003 Department of Homeland Security affidavit, Mirza was listed as being in the “Safa Group” that federal officials suspected of running more than 100 businesses backing the Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad-Shikaki Faction, two designated terrorist groups.

Mirza was also a cofounder of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, an organization the Washington Post reported had justified terrorist attacks against Israel.

The institute has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and was demonstrated by the Justice Department to be an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism financing, according to federal records.

Campaign ad

Sununu made his work as general manager of Waterville Valley a cornerstone qualification in this race for governor.

“At Waterville Valley, I manage 800 employees. And no job is too big or too small,” Sununu says in his first campaign commercial.

The video shows Sununu clearing trash and making pizza at the mountain.

“And the only way to get things done is to roll up your sleeves and lead by example,” Sununu concludes.

Since the Sununu family announced the Waterville Valley sale in 2010, Chris Sununu and other family members said they rejected out-of-state or international money in favor of a local investor group.

“I kind of tied my hands financially,” Chris Sununu told the Boston Globe in November 2010 shortly after purchasing the ski resort from a California-based firm. “I could have gone to New York City (for investors) but we are insisting on local control.”

They have never disclosed who those investors are.

“For the first time in almost 15 years the assets including the Waterville Valley Ski Area, Waterville Valley Nordic Center, Waterville Valley Conference Center and Town Square are now back under local control,” said the press release announcing the sale on Oct. 10, 2010 .

And by choosing to create this company as a Delaware corporation, Waterville Valley Holdings not only got favorable tax treatment but the move guaranteed even more secrecy about its investors compared to if it had organized as a company in other states.

The SAFA Group’s ownership role only surfaced because as a charitable nonprofit, the trust had to file annual IRS documents that are public.

The Safa Trust is a collection of Islamic nonprofits and businesses founded by Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and Asia in the 1970s. Many of the group’s leaders are prominent and wealthy.

A campaign official insists the SAFA group’s role does not change candidate Sununu’s narrative.

“The Waterville Valley investment team is comprised entirely of people with ties to the local Waterville Valley community and resort. That stands in stark contrast to prior ownership,” Sununu campaign manager David Abrams said in a statement. “With no charges pursued and any investigation being closed in 2009, it’s clear that law enforcement officials have, in fact, not linked the Safa Trust or the SAAR Foundation to terrorism.”

On the same day — Aug. 4 — three companies, all with links to Mirza, each gave $500 checks to Sununu’s campaign.

The three firms are Mar-Jac Investments Inc., Reston Investments Inc. and Sterling Management Group Inc., all of Herndon, Va.

Mirza is a registered agent or CEO of all three entities. Attempts to reach Mirza from comment were not successful.

klandrigan@unionleader.com


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