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July 15, 2019 6:25 am

Are American Islamist Charities Funding Terror in Gaza?

avatar by Abha Shankar

Opinion

Hamas fighters take part in a rally marking the 31st anniversary of the terror group’s founding, in Gaza City, Dec. 16, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

A Gaza-based charity that ostensibly receives humanitarian funds from US and Western Islamist benefactors has close ties to a designated terrorist group, according to a new report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC).

Board members for the Generosity Without Limit Association (“Generosity Association”), a charitable organization operating in the Gaza Strip since 2007, either serve as operatives or have close affiliations with an umbrella group called the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC). Israel declared the PRC a terrorist organization in 2006, and claims the PRC is funded and trained by Hamas. Its largest attack came in 2011, killing eight Israeli civilians and wounding another 20.

The Generosity Association is supported by several Islamist charities in the United States, France, Britain, Turkey, and Israel.

The ITIC report published Facebook pictures from Generosity Association and PRC accounts that showed food packages that Generosity Association distributed to “needy families” in the Gaza Strip during Ramadan. The packages were identical to ones the PRC handed out to family members of shahids (terrorist martyrs) and wounded terrorists.

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“It is unclear whether the humanitarian organizations abroad are aware of the close connection between the [Generosity] Association and the PRC,” the report said, adding that “an Internet search may reveal the connection and alert donors to the possibility that funds earmarked for charity are also used for supporting terrorism.”

The US-based Islamist charities supporting the Generosity Association include Baitulmaal, Life for Relief and Development, and United Hands Relief.

The Israeli government accused Baitulmaal co-founder Sheikh Hasan Hajmohammad of funding a Hamas charitable organization in Jenin in 2006, the report said. Current Executive Director Mazen Mokhtar previously ran the Muslim American Society (MAS), which was established in 1993 as the Muslim Brotherhood’s American arm. In 2015, Mokhtar described suicide bomb attacks as “an effective method of attacking the enemy and continuing jihad,” the report noted.

Baitulmaal has contributed to other radical Palestinian outlets, including the AJP Educational Foundation — the fiscal sponsor of the virulently anti-Israel American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). According to the organization’s available tax records, AMP provided $33,500 to the AJP Educational Foundation between 2011-2017.

A 2017 lawsuit alleges that the AMP and several of its activists were associated with a former Hamas-support network established to advance the terrorist group’s agenda politically and financially in the United States.

Baitulmaal is a member of the Union of Good, a charity sponsored by radical Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, and tagged in 2008 by the US Treasury Department as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Group, an amended complaint alleges. It also lists Baitulmaal among charities that sponsor AMP conferences that serve as a platform for Israel-bashers and openly approve of “resistance” against the “Zionist state.”

AMP is also one of the principal advocates of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish state.

The amended complaint ties Baitulmaal to another Gaza-based charity, Unlimited Friends Association for Social Development (UFA), which “is closely aligned with senior Hamas leaders” and “openly states that it channels funds from Baitulmaal to the ‘families of martyrs of the Palestinian people.'”

“Baitulmaal has openly distributed meat to Hamas functionaries and government workers on Muslim holy days, claiming that ‘it is a matter of principle for the charity to help [Hamas] officials who can’t afford to buy meat,'” the complaint adds.

Another American Islamist charity supporting Gaza’s Generosity Association is Life for Relief and Development. The charity’s CEO and board member is Hany Saqr, who is listed as a leader of the Brotherhood’s North American leadership in a 1992 telephone directory seized by Federal investigators.

The directory was found in the home of Ismail Elbarasse, whom prosecutors described as the Muslim Brotherhood’s archivist in America. He served as an assistant to Mousa Abu Marzook, a Hamas political leader, and the head of a Brotherhood-created Hamas support network called the Palestine Committee. United Hands Relief also distributes aid to Generosity Association and has close ties to Baitulmaal.

CEO Suleiman al-Ghanem ran Baitulmaal from 2007-2017. The organization’s director of communications and public relations, Nayef Doleh, also worked for Baitulmaal, the ITIC report said.

While charities play an important role in disbursing humanitarian assistance to needy civilians, the fact that this assistance is finding its way into the hands of terrorists and their families is alarming and requires more thorough investigation and vetting of food supplies and money disbursed by these charities.

Abha Shankar is Senior Intelligence Analyst at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. A version of this article was originally published by The Investigative Project on Terrorism.

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