Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

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Muslim leaders decry bank account closures

August 15, 2014

Outraged by the decision of HSBC to close the accounts of clients who may be at risk of laundering money, evading sanctions, or financing terrorism, one of the trustees of the Ummah Welfare Trust (UWT) has called for a boycott by “Muslim brothers and sisters” and “their contacts” against the British bank.

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies also condemned the closure, saying it sets the precedent that such accounts can be “closed, without reason, at any time.” The Daily Mail notes that several Muslim Britons have taken to social media outlets to call HSBC’s decision “racist,” while the targets of the closures have blamed “Islamophobia.”

These knee-jerk and vitriolic responses are similar to the reaction of prominent individuals like Olympic medalist Mo Farah, who claimed that an attempt by Barclays to end a business relationship with one remittance company last year could mean “death to millions of Somalis,” and from U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) who screamed, “It’s wrong to close off the lifeline!” during a protest against banks in Minnesota that ceased remittance services to Somalia in late 2011.

Can we not have a civil and intelligent conversation about why the accounts have been closed, and what regulatory pressures brought this to bear, without spoiling for a confrontation and casting HSBC’s leaders as a bunch of ignorant bigots?

The targets of the closures purport to be upset that they were not given an adequate explanation for the account closures. But that’s a catch-22. If HSBC had disclosed the reasons for its suspicions—if hypothetically it had said that UWT operates two programs in Gaza that are administered by Hamas operatives—then UWT would probably claim that the disclosure was baseless and defamatory, and that the matter should have been handled in private.

Or if HSBC had maintained the accounts, HSBC’s leadership would be hauled before Congress again and asked to explain why it still operated accounts on behalf of controversial entities like the Finsbury Park mosque and UWT.

This is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and damned for the manner in which you did or didn’t do it.

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Who finances Hamas’s rockets?

July 14, 2014

Short answer: Iran.

Iran manufactures missiles, loads them up at its Bandar Abbas port, ships them to Sudan, where they are transported by ground to the Sinai for final transfer through smuggling tunnels to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Smuggling was rampant particularly when the Muslim Brotherhood controlled Egypt under Muhammad Morsi, making a significant contribution to Hamas’s 10,000 missile stockpile. “Under Morsi it was almost a highway,” said one observer.

Shorter-range missiles are built in Gaza itself. Technical expertise lent by Iran is helping develop Hamas’s homegrown rocket program, although even as recently as two years ago one analyst observed that Hamas lacks the capacity within Gaza to build a banana plantation, much less a missile factory.

Some missiles, such as the M-302, are manufactured by Syria “under license” from China, which designed it. Assad would not be able to produce these weapons or remain in power without Iranian backing in the first place.

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Illicit transfer news: recommended reading

March 13, 2014
  • Eight have been arrested in raids over zakat raised in Britain to fund terrorism in Syria… more>>
  • Is a millionaire bitcoin trader copping a plea over money laundering allegations?  More>>
  • By sea, land, and air—Iran’s history of busted arms smuggling operations is exposed… more>>
  • Speaking of Iranian weapons trafficking, Iraq has been a helpful facilitator to their neighbor lately… more>>
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Hamas’s multi-million dollar fish story

March 3, 2014

The seizure of a statue by Hamas worth $20 to $40 million is raising concerns within the art world that looted antiquities could become a growing revenue source for terrorist organizations.  The bronze statue in question was allegedly discovered underwater (which expert archaeologists doubt) by a Gaza Strip fisherman and subsequently taken possession of by Hamas.

The dubious sea-diving tale prompts the question raised by the archaeological blog Looting Matters:  “Is the reported find-spot a blind to distract the authorities from a ‘productive’ site?”  In other words, where in the Middle East is the real site of discovery that is being plundered and resold to organizations like Hamas?

Incidentally, had this been a “Gazan” or “Palestinian” artifact discovered off the Gulf coast of Mississippi, the Palestinian Authority and leftist academics would be calling for the “repatriation” of the artifact to the Palestinian territories.  Yet notice that although this is a Greek artifact, there isn’t even a hint of a possibility of returning the statue to Greece…

From the International Business Times:

Rare Bronze Apollo Statue Found In The Gaza Strip, ‘Priceless’ Artifact Could Become ‘Funding Stream’ For Hamas

By Zoe Mintz

on February 10 2014

A statue lost for centuries was found in the Gaza Strip, seized by police and has since disappeared from public view.

The statue of the Greek god Apollo is at least 2,000 years old – made sometime between the 5th and 1st centuries BC. Joudat Ghrab, 26, a local fisherman, said he saw the half-ton statue on the seafloor of the Mediterranean in August and brought it home. The statue was posted on eBay briefly for $500,000 – well below its estimated value of $20 million to $40 million — before it was taken by the Islamist group Hamas, Reuters reports.

“It’s unique. In some ways I would say it is priceless. It’s like people asking what is the [value] of the painting La Gioconda [the Mona Lisa] in the Louvre museum,” Jean-Michel de Tarragon, a historian with the French Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem, said. “It’s very, very rare to find a statue which is not in marble or in stone, but in metal.”

While archeologists have yet to examine the rare statue firsthand, based on the images that show the statue was well-preserved, experts say it was most likely recovered on land, not in the sea.

“This wasn’t found on the seashore or in the sea … it is very clean. No, it was [found] inland and dry,” de Tarragon said about the six-foot-tall statue, adding that the metal would have been disfigured or barnacles present if it had been found in water…

But Ghrab defends his story, adding that he thought the statue was a badly burned body before he dove down and discovered it was actually a “treasure”…

Family members belonging to Hamas soon took possession of the statue. Officials from Gaza’s tourism ministry told Reuters the statue will not be displayed publicly until a criminal investigation is completed on who tried to sell the item online…

The Apollo statue is stuck in a bit of a quandary. The Gaza Strip, a coastal Palestinian territory, is controlled by the militant Islamist group Hamas – making the purchase of the Apollo statue limited since it would be considered violating international sanctions against financing terrorism, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports. If the statue was smuggled, it would be a challenge. The Gaza Strip not only shares heavily armed borders with Israel and Egypt but its coastline is also under heavy guard by the Israeli Navy. If the statue remains in the Gaza Strip, it would not become a tourist attractio [sic], because Hamas’ fundamentalist principles condemn nudity.

“This case is fiendishly difficult,” Sam Hardy, a British archaeologist who runs the website Conflict Antiquities, said. “National and international laws make it difficult to assist the administration in the West Bank, let alone that in the Gaza Strip. Indeed, any sale or leasing of the statue might normalize looting of antiquities as a funding stream for Hamas.”

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Hamas $200m poorer as smuggling tunnels close

February 10, 2014

The New York Times reports that Egyptian closures of tunnels used to smuggle weapons and merchandise into Gaza has resulted in a loss of nearly $200 million to Hamas, which taxes goods that are smuggled through the tunnels.

Previous news reports have indicated that Hamas’s taxes on the underground trade grew and became formalized within the past few years, and that the terrorist organization made a million dollars a day in early 2013 by levying taxes on smuggled products.

Thanks to Sal for sending this over:

As Gaza Tunnels Closed, Hamas Lost Cash, Israeli Official Says

TEL AVIV — Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, is in severe economic straits, having lost a major source of income in recent months because of an Egyptian clampdown on hundreds of smuggling tunnels, a high-ranking Israeli military official told reporters at army headquarters here on Thursday.

Dozens of tunnels running beneath Gaza’s border with Egypt are still operating, he said, but the $200 million that Hamas collected annually in tax revenues from the tunnel trade has been reduced to a few million dollars at most.

The Israeli official, from the military’s southern command, which deals with Gaza and Israel’s border with Egypt, was speaking on the condition of anonymity in line with military protocol.

A variety of goods, including cheap flour, subsidized Egyptian fuel and building materials, had flowed into Gaza through the tunnels, as well as weapons and operatives, he said, describing the tunnel system as Gaza’s economic lifeline. More goods are being imported from Israel, but at a much higher cost.

The tunnel clampdown began over the summer, when the military in Egypt ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was Hamas’s most important ally. The Egyptians acted against the tunnels because of what they saw as their own security interests, the Israeli military official said.

Isra al-Modallal, a spokeswoman for Hamas, said Gaza had suffered overall losses of more than $500 million in all sectors because of the closing of the tunnels, but she could not provide a figure for how much Hamas had lost in tax revenue. The amount of goods entering Gaza through the tunnels has been cut by 95 percent, she added…

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Qatar aids Al Qaeda and Hamas in Gaza

December 2, 2013

In order to obtain “billions of dollars” from Qatar, Hamas has agreed to ease restrictions in Gaza on its rival Al Qaeda.  Dozens of Al Qaeda fighters have already been released from prison by Hamas officials to meet Doha’s demands.

Qatar is probably emboldened by the influence and traction it has gained by backing Islamist fighters in Mali, Syria, and the Arab Spring countries.  Its monarchy senses that this is the perfect time to expand their influence in the Palestinian territories where old guard terrorist groups are short on cash.  Judging by the relative lack of media coverage of this development, they’re getting away with it.

From World Tribune (h/t Global MB Watch):

Hamas eases up on Al Qaida in hopes of securing Qatari cash

Special to WorldTribune.com

GAZA CITY — Hamas, desperate for new allies, has ended its crackdown on Al Qaida-aligned militias financed by Qatar.

Palestinian sources said the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip has released scores of Al Qaida-aligned militia members, known as Salafists.

The sources said the restrictions on the militias were eased amid Hamas’ crisis with neighboring Egypt over the revolt in the Sinai Peninsula.

“Qatar has promised billions of dollars to Hamas, but the money was held up until the policy against the Salafists changed,” a source said.

Al Qaida-aligned militias, including Army of Islam, Army of the Nation, Jaljalat and Swords of Righteousness, had long been regarded as a strategic threat by Hamas. In 2009, Hamas killed 22 Al Qaida fighters in a raid of their stronghold in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Over the last two years, however, the Al Qaida militias were bolstered by tens of millions of dollars in cash and weapons supplied mostly by Qatar. In May 2013, a delegation of leading Sunni clerics from Kuwait and Qatar, including Yusef Qaradawi, arrived in the Gaza Strip and urged the Hamas leadership to release militia fighters.

Since then, the Salafists have sought to draft an agreement to define the activities of Al Qaida militias, most of them armed with rockets that could strike deep into Israel. The sources said Qatar signaled it would intensify aid once an agreement was signed.

The sources said Hamas has demanded that Al Qaida militias refrain from any attacks on Israel without permission from the Islamist regime. They said Hamas also wanted to control all weapons supplies to the militias and was refusing to return arms already confiscated.

So far, more than 40 Al Qaida-aligned operatives were released from Hamas prisons over the last two months, the sources said. They said Hamas was expected to keep most of the Salafists in prison until a full agreement was reached and Qatar relayed aid…

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Kuwaiti tycoon runs Hamas’s newest sharia bank

November 21, 2013

In May, Kuwaiti businessman Dr. Riyadh Al-Khulaifi launched Al-Intaj bank, an Islamic financial institution that has no license to operate from the Palestinian Monetary Authority.  Hamas and Al-Khualifi conceived of the bank to help keep Hamas afloat, to help evade international sanctions, and to increase sharia-compliant services in Gaza.

Hamas is probably concerned that Islamic National Bank, the other unlicensed sharia bank upon which the terrorist group relies, could be disrupted again by Israel, prompting the creation of Al-Intaj.

Al-Khulaifi is a member the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliated group that supports “armed resistance.”  His leadership over the Gaza bank could indicate an acceleration in Kuwait’s foot race with Saudi Arabia and Qatar to see who can buy the most Islamist loyalty abroad.

From IslamicFinance.de earlier this year:

A new bank is set to be inaugurated in the Gaza Strip next week, although it has not yet received the necessary license from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA). The Al-Intaj bank has a capital of $20m and a board of directors chaired by Kuwaiti businessman and member of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, Dr Riyadh Al-Khulaifi. The bank… will be headquartered in Gaza City and have branches in other parts of Gaza Strip in the coming years. 50% of its capital will be channelled to production-oriented activities, while 40% will be allocated to the traditional transactions. The remaining 10% will be set aside to the ‘murabahat’ (Shari’ah-compliant transactions), the lender’s deputy board chairman Rushdi Wadi said.

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