A major Islamic charity raising millions of dollars in Britain “to provide humanitarian aid to peoples of the Middle East” is actually a Hamas front that channels funds from British Muslims to support Hamas terrorism, Israeli security sources told WorldNetDaily.
According to its website, Interpal, established in 1994, 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.
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.”
Interpal has been investigated several times by British authorities, and has in the past 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.
But documents discovered and recently declassified?from Israel’s 2002 Operation Defensive Shield?in the Palestinian territories, along with other supportive evidence released through the Center for Special Studies in Israel, including bank-transfer information, should?warrant Britain reopening?its investigation?into Interpal, security sources say.
“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.
“Interpal says its funds are going to the welfare of Palestinians, but the institutions giving out the money in the [Palestinian] territories are headed by senior Hamas officials,” said the security source.
The source said activities financed by Interpal include “money for the families of suicide bombers, which raises morale and provides motivation for others to become terrorists, and education services that teach kids the importance of jihad.”
The source said Hamas also uses the funds for other humanitarian purposes “to endear itself to the Palestinian population.”
Interpal’s website calls the Palestinian issue “a special case,” and details the works it does for the Palestinians, such as special Ramadan programs and “moral and financial support through sponsorships to the disabled orphans, widows and needy children and families.”
The site doesn’t specify which local organizations the charity works with, but Israel says security forces uncovered documents showing Interpal’s affiliates consist mostly of prominent Hamas institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
One document, a trustees report entitled “Interpal Activities and Achievements in the Year 2002,” lists ten of Interpal’s beneficiaries, all of which are official Hamas organizations.
Sources say Hamas receives Interpal funds directly through a banking system that channels money into accounts at the Arab Bank, which maintains branches in London, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Interpal’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.”
Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, founder of Al-Muhajiroun, an Islamic fundamentalist organization that recently disbanded after being suspected of ties to al-Qaida, told the British media last month of a “Muslim organization in Britain” with a special monetary fund that recruits for Hamas. He wouldn’t name the charity.
Muhammad has in the past told WorldNetDaily he supports Hamas and has called on the British Muslim community to contribute to Hamas and join the terror group.
“We must support Hamas. … We should maintain cooperation among nations so that we can all liberate ourselves together,” Bakri told a group of British Muslims at a meeting attended by WorldNetDaily.
Indeed, two British members of Al-Muhajiroun became suicide bombers for Hamas, killing three Israelis when they blew up Mike’s Place pizza shop in Tel Aviv in 2003.
Following a media campaign in 1995 against Hamas charities, British security investigated Interpal and temporarily froze its assets. Then-British Home Secretary Michael Howard said a 1996 investigation concluded no illegitimate financial activity was found.
In April 2003, just before the U.S. outlawed Interpal, Britain’s Charity Commission announced it was reopening its investigation of links between Interpal and Hamas, but it later claimed to have found nothing.
“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.”