The Financial Sources of the Hamas Terror Organization(Communicated by Israel Security Sources)July 30, 2003
Backgrounda. The Hamas (translated as 'zeal') - Also known as the 'Islamic resistance movement', Hamas is a Sunni Islamic organization, which was established at the beginning of the first Intifada, (December 1987) by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
b. The Foundations - The Hamas was established from cells of the Muslim Brotherhood organization that had already been active in the territories. The Muslim Brotherhood is recognized as a social movement, and constitutes a convenient arena for the activities of individuals and groups deriving extreme religious legitimacy from the organization. The Muslim Brotherhood does not only provide ideological and logistical support for the Hamas; The Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was a significant influence behind the formation of the Hamas organization.
c. Ideology - The Hamas believes in the establishment of an Islamic theocracy over all the territory of the land of Israel, "from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River". In other words, the State of Israel has no right to exist. In the Hamas covenant that was published in August 1988, the organization emphasized its ambition to serve as an alternative to the PLO. In effect, it poses a challenge to the PLO in its opposition to the peace process and its call for the destruction of the State of Israel.
d. The Means - Alongside its terrorist activity, the Hamas also conducts civilian and social projects. The Hamas maintains a terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank, and acts to carry out terrorist attacks in the territories and Israel. In addition, the Hamas conducts activities abroad including other parts of the Middle East, in the context of Dawa operations - social and civilian projects, including fundraising (through charity foundations and associations) and the recruitment of operatives. These activities also constitute direct and indirect assistance to the Hamas terrorist operations in Israel and abroad.
Sources of Funding
1. The Organizational Structure and the Syrian Connection - Syria serves today as an important base of the Hamas organization, from a political, information and operational perspective. Officials in the Hamas leadership reside in Syria and conduct their operations from there. This applies particularly to the so-called political office of the Hamas, headed by Khaled Mashal. They are in regular daily contact with the Hamas leadership in the territories, headed by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and with the terrorist operatives of Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam (Hamas battalions) in the territories.
The Syrian Government enables the Hamas leadership and its terrorist commanders to conduct their various activities on its soil, including the formulation of the Hamas operational strategy, the training of terrorist operatives, the funding of terrorist activity against Israel and assistance in the purchase of arms and ammunition.
2. Middle East Activity
The Hamas is active in a number of other countries in the Middle East, including Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. These countries provide support and assistance in funding and operations training.
3. The Financial Assistance Infrastructure
The Hamas has an extensive network of financial sources, operating within the framework of Dawa activity, with a total value of tens of millions of dollars a year.
Gulf States - A considerable proportion of the aforementioned funds originate from various sources in the Gulf States (The Gulf Cooperation Council States). Most of the funding is from Saudi Arabian sources, with a total value of $12 million a year.
Iran - Its contribution is estimated at $3 million a year.
Charitable associations in the Territories - Funds are raised for the Hamas through the mosques (a convenient domain for fundraising and recruitment of members) and through charity associations and foundations.
Charity associations overseas
Fundraising abroad and in the territories
4. Dawa and terrorism
It is not possible to separate the Dawa activities conducted for humanitarian purposes from the direct and indirect funding of terrorism: All the monies flow into a common fund, and are then channeled to the relevant activities, in accordance with needs and in coordination with the functions of the organization in the territories and abroad. The monies are transferred using the following means: bank transfers, moneychangers, private money services, unofficial networks for the transfer of funds and "unsuspecting" assistants. Thus, in view of the great difficulty in tracing the source of the money, its address and the motives behind the transfer of funds, it is essential that a strict and vigilant approach be adopted towards the entire fundraising network, operating within the framework of Dawa activity.
5. The Palestinian Street
The large amount of funds at the disposal of the Hamas organization and its members contribute to the enhancement of its standing on the Palestinian street. In the process, the Hamas is competing with the Palestinian Authority, and may eventually pose a threat to its legitimacy.
6. Activity in the West
The Hamas organization is also operating in European countries and the United States, mainly among the Palestinian population, by conducting fundraising (through charity associations and foundations - Dawa activity). Some of the funds received are channeled to finance terrorist activity in Israel, and other monies are intended for the funding of Hamas civilian activity. The aforementioned associations and foundations include the following:
Great Britain - The Palestine Relief and Development Fund (Interpal)
USA - The Holyland Foundation (HLF)
Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Holland - Al Aqsa Foundation
France - Comité de Bienfaisance et Solidarité avec la Palestine
7. An investigation is being conducted in Britain regarding the Interpal fund. The operation of the Al Aqsa Foundation has been stopped in Germany and Denmark, following government intervention. The activity of the Al Aqsa Foundation in the Netherlands has been halted, following the issue of an administrative order (from January 2003). The Al Aqsa Foundation is still operating in Belgium. In the United States, the Government has halted the activity of the HLF. In France, the Comite De Bienfaisance Et Solidarite Avec La Palestine is still operating as before.
8. Activity in Asia
Hamas activity exists in Asia but is limited. Nevertheless, Hamas officials in Syria are in contact with Islamic organizations in Asia. It is reasonable to assume that the common religious identities shared by Hamas and other Islamic organizations pose potential dangers. This danger is exemplified by the presence of Palestinian students and Islamic organizations in countries such as Pakistan and India, amongst others, and the fact that Palestinians underwent training in Afghanistan. These Palestinian students are viewed by the Hamas as potential recruits.
9. Activity in Africa
Hamas activity in Africa is limited. There is recognizable activity in South Africa. Thus, The Holyland Foundation (HLF) has been active there, although the government is investigating its activities.
10. Recruiting Operatives Abroad
The Hamas has been conducting social activity in mosques that mainly serve the Palestinian immigrant population. These Palestinians are potential recruits for the organization (particularly Palestinian students) who are expected to return later on to the territories. As the recent terrorist attack at Mike's Place in Tel Aviv shows, the mosques can be used to recruit Muslim operatives (not just Palestinians) to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel.
11. The Cooperation of Organizations Abroad
The Hamas is assisted by other terrorist organizations overseas (with an emphasis on Al Qaida and the Hizbullah), with the aim of advancing strategic objectives. The ties between these parties are based upon personal contacts and their identification with Islam, and, particularly, the principle of Jihad. The links between these groups are also expressed through mutual operational assistance, thereby advancing the strategic goals of the Hamas organization.