Telling the Truth about Terrorism and Islamic Charities
The link between “charity” groups and terrorist organizations is frequently not recognized or is ignored. The chairman of the British Charity Commission, William Shawcross, on April 20, 2014 expressed his concern about charities being used as vehicles for such groups. He warns that the “problem of Islamist extremism… is not the most widespread problem we face in terms of abuse of charities but is potentially the most deadly... and it is growing.”
The growth is evident from the analysis in the British list of terrorist organizations proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000. Of the 55 organizations, 33 are Islamist, alphabetically, from the Abu Nidal Organization, whose declared aim is the destruction of Israel, to Saved Sect or Savior Sect, a group that has disguised its name on a number of occasions and which seeks to establish an Islamic Caliphate ruled by Sharia law.
Shawcross’s rightful concern was that some charities in the UK as elsewhere in Western democracies purportedly raise funds to provide aid for desirable objectives, and do so to some extent, but that they are also engaged in money laundering to organizations that are involved, directly or indirectly, with terrorist groups. More specifically, Shawcross found that some people accused of terrorist offenses serve as charity trustees.
Oxfam International, which showed such courage in trying to prevent the powerful Scarlett Johansson from taking a job with the Israeli company SodaStream, appears naïve and politically inept in not grasping this link. In January 2014 Oxfam was about to cosponsor an exhibit on Gaza in the East London Mosque together with Ibrahim Hewitt, a trustee of Interpal, officially the Palestine Relief and Development Fund, a so-called charity organization.
Oxfam, though now universally famous for its acute knowledge of the precise conditions in Israeli settlements, did not know, as every schoolboy in London does, that the East London Mosque is a notorious cauldron of anti-Western and anti-Semitic hatred. One of the individuals, Sakeel Begg, due to speak at another event at the Mosque, describes jihad as “the greatest of deeds.” The Mosque has also entertained other speakers such as Saad al-Beraik who refers to Jews as “monkeys,” and calls on Palestinians not to “have mercy or compassion on the Jews,” and to wage jihad against them.
It is also well known that the Mosque is an organization close to the Bangladeshi wing in the UK of Jamaat-e-Islami, a violent Islamic terrorist group, responsible for mass murder in 1971, and linked to the Global Muslim Brotherhood.
Oxfam understood that Hewitt was due to speak at the Mosque in conjunction with the Gaza exhibition it was cosponsoring. But then it cancelled the event not because of the hatred expressed in Hewitt’s remarks about Israel but because of his comments about homosexuality about which Oxfam had been previously unaware. Hewitt is reported as wanting homosexuals to suffer “severe punishments” for their “great sin.” He is not clear, at least officially, whether gays should be executed or whether they should simply be subjected to stoning. In spite of the cancellation, the irrepressibly naive Oxfam still “looks forward” to working with the Mosque to “highlight the plight of children of Gaza.”
Oxfam seems not have known about Ibrahim Hewitt or Interpal and the relation of this “charity group” to Hamas in Gaza. Hewitt, a convert to Islam in 1981, is an individual who wears a number of hats, all of which have a certain pattern. He is senior editor of Middle East Monitor (Islamist outlet). He is also a trustee of the International Board of Educational Research and Resources, an organization in South Africa, founded by Yusuf Islam (the former Cat Stevens) which distributes Islamist educational material. Hewitt was formerly, 2004-2006, the Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, a group that is dominated by the jihadist group, Jaamat-e-Islami.
Hewitt is a skilled polemicist who makes no secret of his views. In his pamphlet Blood on the Holy Land, of March 13, 1988, Hewitt referred to the “so-called Holocaust.” He is proud of his mastery of the subject of national characteristics, especially those of Jews and Israelis. One example is his statement, “By their behavior in vandalizing and destroying Mosques and Churches, the Jews have demonstrated that they cannot be entrusted with the sanctity and security of this Holy Land.”
Hewitt has obviously not been reading carefully the recent news about the peaceful and humanitarian conditions, and the careful preservation of antiquities and religious structures in the freedom-loving and tolerant countries of Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Nevertheless, Hewitt on April 15, 2014 comprehended “The undeniable fact that the creation of the state (of Israel) is the prime cause of the unrest in the Middle East.” He also knows that the U.S. government is a “puppet” of Zionism. Hewitt frequently asserts that Israel has committed war crimes and is a threat to world peace.
Above all, Hewitt is chair and trustee of Interpal, the British charity founded in 1994 that claims to be supporting Palestinians by alleviating poverty, providing health care, and advancing education, and by transferring funds to local authorized partners in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. More realistically, the U.S. in 2003 named it as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization. And the BBC, in its Panorama program in July 2006 alleged that money collected by Interpal was going to fund other charities, voluntary organizations, that sponsored educational projects encouraging children to become suicide bombers. The BBC further alleged that these charities had links with, even run by, senior Hamas members.
Interpal was part of, perhaps the most important affiliate, of the charity organizations making up the Union of Good, a coalition headed by the leader of Global Muslim Brotherhood, Youssef Qaradawi, who helps raise funds for Hamas. The Union of Good is a coalition of charities that manages financial support for Hamas. This group was banned by Israel in 2002, a year before it was designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. A U.S.Treasury statement in 2008 claimed UOG’s executive leadership and the secretary-general board of directors included Hamas leaders. The UOG and Interpal were close: the secretary-general of UOG also acted as vice-chairman of Interpal. The former general-secretary of the UOG, Essam Mustafa, is the Managing Trustee of Interpal. He and Hewitt both met in Gaza with Ismail Haniya, senior member of Hamas, on July 31, 2011.
Interpal has been careful to cover its tracks. As a result, the UK Charity Commission, the body that regulates charities, issued a cautious and nuanced report in February 2009 that concluded it could not verify that Interpal had distributed funds to other organizations promoting terrorist ideology or activities, especially those of Hamas. However, it did not give Interpal a clean bill of health. It held that Interpal’s continued membership of UOG was not appropriate and that it should end its membership. Many of the partners of Interpal appear to have promoted and supported Hamas. Again, in its 2012 report, the UK Commission, was uneasy but did not censure Interpal for its involvement with Hamas. Interpal does, however, appear to have ended its membership of UOG after the Charity Commission report advised it to do so.
This reluctance on the part of the British Commission, which is an objective body, to state the obvious is surprising. Lloyds Bank’s attitude was clear-cut. It decided in 2009 that it would not provide services for Interpal which had an account with the Islamic Bank of Britain. The Commission might have reached a similar conclusion if it had considered the activities of two individuals in Britain. Zaid Yemeni (Zaid Hassan), the representative of Interpal in Birmingham, who has met with a Hamas leader in Gaza who called on God to annihilate Jews and not leave any one of them alive. Ibrahm Dar (Abu Hana), the Bradford representative of Interpal, is an open admirer of Anwar Al-Awlaki, a major al-Qaeda leader whose main ambition is blow up U.S. planes.
Plain speaking on terrorism is essential in all democratic countries. The most recent report of the British Commission evades that and lacks clarity and robustness. So do some participants in a recent controversy in New York City. A brief film to be shown at the opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum refers to those who committed the crime of 9/11 as terrorists whose mission is jihad. Some clerics dislike this wording, arguing that it casts aspirations on all Muslims. Clearly it does no such thing. It is incumbent to call terrorists by their right name, whether in this particular case or in reference to British “charities” which camouflage their real intentions.
Michael Curtis is author of Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.