A major Islamic organization raising millions of dollars in Britain “to provide humanitarian aid to peoples of the Middle East” transferred money to a Hamas charity that provided funds to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers and pays for suicide operations, according to documents found in the Palestinian territories.
On its website, Interpal, established in 1994, says it is a British charity “that focuses solely on the provision of relief and development aid to the poor and needy of Palestine and the world over, primarily in Palestine and the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.” The charity reportedly raised more than $8 million last year.
But documents discovered and declassified this month from Israel’s 2002 Operation Defensive Shield and operations in the Palestinian territories last year, along with other supportive evidence released through the Center for Special Studies in Israel and shared with WND, show Interpal transferred large sums to the Bethlehem Orphan Care Society.
The society, outlawed in Israel in 2002, was being run by Dr. Ghassan Issa Mahmoud Harmass, a high-ranking Hamas figure in Bethlehem. Security sources say that aside from some humanitarian work it did to endear itself to the Palestinian population, the society passed on funds to Hamas’ terrorist apparatus, and gave money to the families of Hamas suicide bombers.
Documents found in the Palestinian Preventative Security offices in Bethlehem shows the PA ordered its security services to infiltrate the society and discovered it was being run by known Hamas activists, obtained money from Interpal and worked in conjunction with other Hamas institutions in the West Bank. The PA often spies on Hamas to ensure it does not gain enough power to challenge the dominant Fatah party.
According to other documents later found by the IDF in the society’s offices, the charity received funds from Interpal on many occasions. One report dealing with contacts between Hamas members and representatives of the society mentions the receipt of funds from Interpal. Also found was a memorandum from Interpal regarding a donation it made to the society.
The documents are the latest evidence connecting the British charity to Hamas.
Documents released last month also showed Interpal funded other Hamas organizations. Among them is Hamas’ Al-Islah Charitable Society in Ramallah. A receipt from Jan. 15, 2001, printed on Interpal stationary, showed the transfer of $33,800 through the City Bank of New York. It was signed by Jamal Muhammad al-Tawil, the founder and chairman of Al-Islah and a high-ranking West Bank Hamas activist recently arrested by Israeli forces.
Interpal was declared an illegal, terror-supporting organization in Israel because of its alleged links to Hamas and was outlawed in the United States in August 2003 after being designated by a U.S. executive order “an entity that commits, threatens to commit or supports terrorism.”
The British charity’s former chairman and current vice-chairman of the board of trustees, Essam Silah Mustafa, is a well-known Hamas activist. Israel’s Shin Bet has declared Mustafa “one of the most prominent individuals in Hamas’ financial system in the Western world.”
Interpal’s founder, Ibrahim Brian Hewitt, a British citizen who converted to Islam reportedly in the 1980s, told the British daily Guardian newspaper it was “possible” some of Interpal’s funds may have gone to Hamas, but he claimed Hamas’ social services were not managed by the terror group’s “military wing.”
“Interpal is one of the most important channels through which money is poured into the Hamas infrastructure in the Palestinian areas, and Britain has been and will continue to be provided with plenty of evidence” a security source told WorldNetDaily.
British authorities investigated Interpal several times in the past, and the charity has had its UK bank accounts temporarily frozen, but Britain’s Charity Commission in 2003 dropped the investigation for “lack of evidence” that Interpal was connected to any terrorist organization.
The charity currently operates unimpeded in Britain.
“The [British] authorities are afraid of the large Muslim community,” said a security source. “Britain’s failure to close Interpal and take action against Hamas’ charities is coming from internal politics.”