Hamas was established in December 1987 with the help of its pre-existing da’wa infrastructure – the network of Muslim Brotherhood social welfare institutions established by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and other senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Gaza that became the backbone of Hamas’s physical infrastructure and political power base. Since its founding, Hamas’s social welfare organizations have played a direct role in facilitating the group’s terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings. For example, then-FBI Deputy Director John Pistole testified to Congress in 2003 that at least “a portion” of contributions made to Hamas fronts directly support “the terrorist organization’s military wing;” other funds support Hamas attacks indirectly, as “any contribution to Hamas, for any purpose, frees up other funds for its planned violence.”
HAMAS’S FUNDRAISING OPERATIONS AND NETWORK
Hamas obtains funding from foreign sources that support the full range of its activities, including terrorist attacks; logistical support; social services; and radicalization and recruitment. Since its inception, Hamas has cultivated a complex fundraising network, through which it receives funds from U.S.-designated State Sponsors of Terrorism, such as Iran; a network of mainly Saudi and other Gulf State individuals and charities; legitimate, illegitimate, and phantom businesses; and an international network of Muslim Brotherhood organizations. Most of the money – tens of millions of dollars raised every year on behalf of Hamas prior to 2006 – originated outside the Palestinian Territories.
THE UNION OF GOOD
According to the U.S. government, the Union of Good is an umbrella “charitable” organization that constitutes a principal fundraising mechanism for Hamas. Established in 2000 almost immediately after the outbreak of the Second Intifada, the Union of Good was conceived of by Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born Muslim Brotherhood leader who publicly sanctioned suicide bombings against Israeli citizens through a series of “fatwas” he issued in 2001. Sheikh Qaradawi is the Union of Good’s current leader and chairman. The Union of Good was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2002 by the Israeli government because of its ties to Hamas.
The U.S. Treasury Department designated the Union of Good an SDGT on November 12, 2008 for its ties to Hamas, noting in its press release announcing the designation:
The leadership of Hamas created the Union of Good in late-2000, shortly after the start of the second Intifada, in order to facilitate the transfer of funds to Hamas. The Union of Good acts as a broker for Hamas by facilitating financial transfers between a web of charitable organizations--including several organizations previously designated under E.O. 13224 for providing support to Hamas--and Hamas-controlled organizations in the West Bank and Gaza…. The Union of Good's executive leadership and board of directors includes Hamas leaders, Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), and other terrorist supporters.
HAMAS DA’WA ORGANIZATIONS
Islamic Center of Gaza (al-Mujama al-Islami)
The Islamic Center of Gaza or the Islamic Complex-Gaza, otherwise known as al-Mujama al-Islami, is one of the oldest and most important charities comprising Hamas’s da’wa network. In the 1970s, al-Mujama focused on building new mosques to establish a power base for the Muslim Brotherhood outside the traditional channels of the Islamic religious authorities in the Gaza Strip. Sheikh Yassin, a founder of Hamas and its spiritual leader until his death, founded al-Mujama, which he originally developed as an umbrella organization for several religious charities and groups in Gaza. Yassin’s deputy, Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi, was also a co-founder of both al-Mujama and Hamas, and both of them have been featured in the organization’s fundraising literature. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, al-Mujama turned its attention to a Muslim Brotherhood take-over of the Islamic University of Gaza, which further extended its influence in Gaza. In 1993, Hamas operative Muin Shabib, speaking at a Hamas meeting in Philadelphia, tied al-Mujama to Hamas and described it – along with others – as “our organizations.” Due to al-Mujama’s ties to Hamas, it was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2002 by the Israeli government, and its accounts were frozen by the Palestinian Authority in 2003.
Islamic Society Gaza (al-Jam’iya al-Islamiya)
The Islamic Society Gaza or Islamic Association-Gaza, otherwise known as al-Jam’iya al-Islamiya, is one of the largest and oldest charitable organizations within Hamas’s da’wa network. In 1993, Hamas operative Muin Shabib, speaking at a Hamas meeting in Philadelphia, tied al-Jam’iya to Hamas and described it – along with others – as “our organizations.” Due to al-Jam’iya’s ties to Hamas, it was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2002 by the Israeli government, and its accounts were frozen by the Palestinian Authority in 2003. In a letter dated November 28, 2002, English translation, the German Intelligence Service (BND) informed the German Ministry of the Interior in Berlin, “The association Al-Jam’iya Al-Islamiyaya should be considered closely associated with HAMAS.” Several individuals were centrally involved in both al-Jam'iya and Hamas, including Sheikh Yassin, who was involved in founding both; Ahmad Bahar; and Ibrahim al-Yazuri. A particularly disturbing example of indoctrination activity at al-Jam'iya is reflected in a video of a graduation ceremony of one of its kindergartens in which the children were dressed in uniforms, carried mock rifles, and swore an oath “to pursue jihad, resistance, and Intifada.”
Al Salah Society
According to the U.S. government, the al Salah Society, or Jamiyat al-Salah, is a key part of Hamas’s charitable network. It quotes Ismail Abu Shanab, a senior Gaza-based Hamas founder and leader, stating that al Salah is “one of the three charities that form Hamas’ welfare arm.” According to a 2001 article in The New York Times, al Salah received funding from Saudi Arabia, and “money is then wired to a Gaza branch of the private, Palestinian-owned Arab Bank: $5,000 for spouses or parents of those killed, $2,500 for the wounded.” Due to al Salah’s ties to Hamas, it was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2002 by the Israeli government, and its accounts were frozen by the Palestinian Authority in 2003. In a letter dated November 28, 2002, English translation, the German Intelligence Service (BND) informed the German Ministry of the Interior in Berlin, “The association Jam’iyat al-Salah / Al-Salah Islamic Association in the center of the Gaza Strip is an Islamic social club to be directly linked to the HAMAS environment….” After the PA’s aforementioned action in 2003, it confirmed that al Salah was indeed a front for Hamas, a fact underscored by the Treasury Department’s subsequent designation of al Salah in 2007, “Hamas has used the Al-Salah Society, as it has other charitable fronts, to finance its terrorist agenda,” and “Al Salah supported Hamas affiliated combatants during the first Intifada and recruited and indoctrinated youth to support Hamas’ activities. It also financed commercial stores, kindergartens and the purchase of land for Hamas.” Al Salah was, for over a decade, directed by Ahmad Al-Kurd, who was also designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and tied to Hamas, “Al-Kurd’s affiliation with Hamas goes back over a decade. During the First Intifada, Al-Kurd served as a Hamas Shura Council member in Gaza. As of late 2003, Al-Kurd was allegedly the top Hamas leader in Deir al-Balah, Gaza. Since mid-2005, he has served as the mayor of Deir Al-Balah, elected as a Hamas candidate.”
According to public records, al Salah maintained one or more accounts at Arab Bank.
Islamic Charitable Society – Hebron
The Islamic Charitable Society – Hebron (“ICSH”), was, during the relevant time period, part of Hamas’s da’wa network. A 2001 FBI report details substantial connections between the ICSH and Hamas; both current and former ICSH leaders have been identified as Hamas operatives or individuals who have worked with Hamas. For example, Khalid Mishal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, identified Abd al-Khalek al-Natshe as part of a generation of Hamas founding members in Hebron. Due to the ICSH’s ties to Hamas, it was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2002 by the Israeli government. Israeli military raids of ICSH offices have uncovered Hamas pamphlets and posters of Hamas suicide bombers. The Union of Good runs its activities in the southern West Bank through the ICSH. The ICSH received much of its funding from foreign charitable institutions, such as HLF, which contributed over $1,600,000 between May 1991 and November 2001, before its funding was frozen by the U.S. government.
Tulkarem Zakat Committee
A 2001 FBI report identified the Tulkarem Zakat Committee as being controlled by Hamas. Many of the leading members of the Tulkarem Zakat Committee were senior Hamas members in Tulkarem. Due to the Tulkarem Zakat Committee’s ties to Hamas, it was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2002 by the Israeli government. Additionally, HLF (designated in 2001 by the Department of Treasury as a terrorist organization and convicted in 2008 of providing material support to Hamas) donated over $315,000 to the Tulkarem Zakat Committee between May 1991 and October 2001).
Nablus Zakat Committee
The Nablus Zakat Committee is one of several “Hamas controlled organizations.” The U.S. government identified many of the leading members of the Nablus Zakat Committee as senior Hamas leaders in Nablus. In 1993, Hamas operative Muin Shabib, speaking at a Hamas meeting in Philadelphia, tied the Nablus Zakat Committee to Hamas and described it – along with others – as “our organizations”. Following a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv café in March 1997, Sheik Bitawi, the deputy chairman of the Nablus Zakat Committee, told a crowd of 10,000 Hamas supporters “I have good news. There is a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.” He continued, “This is the only language the occupiers understand, the language of martyrdom.” Bitawi issued a religious edict (fatwa) praising suicide attacks as “actions [that] are an exalted expression of jihad for the sake of Allah and are not to be considered suicide.” Due to the Nablus Zakat Committee’s ties to Hamas, it was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2006 by the Israeli government. The Nablus Zakat Committee received over $457,000 from the Holy Land Foundation between May 1991 and October 2001.
Islamic Solidarity (Al-Tadhamun) Charitable Society – Nablus
During the relevant time period (2000-2004), the al-Tadhamun Charitable Society operated in very close cooperation with two other Hamas charities in the area, the Nablus Zakat Committee and the Jenin Zakat Committee. In 1993, Hamas operative Muin Shabib, speaking at a Hamas meeting in Philadelphia, tied al-Tadhamun to Hamas and described it – along with others – as “our organizations.” The PA closed al-Tadhamun’s main offices, sports club, and medical clinic in December 2001 because of al-Tadhamun’s role as a key Hamas front organization. Due to al-Tadhamun’s ties to Hamas, it was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2002 by the Israeli government. Al-Tadhamun maintained numerous martyr files, including of Ayman Halawa; English translation; and Abu Hija; English translation. Sheikh Hamid Bitawi, a senior Hamas official, has served simultaneously as the head of the al-Tadhamun Charitable Society and the vice chairman of the Nablus Zakat Committee. Dr. Abd al-Rahim Radi al-Hanbali, chairman of the Nablus Zakat Committee and a member of the al-Tadhamun board, is described by Israel as “a senior political Hamas activist.”
According to public records, al-Tadhamun maintained one or more accounts at Arab Bank.
Ramallah–Al-Bireh Zakat Committee
The Ramallah–al-Bireh Zakat Committee (Lajnat al-Zakat wal-Sadaqaat Ramallah wal-Bireh wal-Liwaa) was part of Hamas’s da’wa network. In 1993, Hamas operative Muin Shabib, speaking at a Hamas meeting in Philadelphia, tied Ramallah–al-Bireh Zakat Committee to Hamas and described it as “all of it is ours”. Due to Ramallah–al-Bireh Zakat Committee’s ties to Hamas, it was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2002 by the Israeli government. Most of the Ramallah–al-Bireh Zakat Committee’s members are Hamas activists. A Palestinian intelligence report featured a table listing seven committee activists, including the committee’s chairman. Under the column for “affiliation,” all seven were listed as Hamas members. The report stated that the PA has determined that the Ramallah–al-Bireh Zakat Committee transfers funds from abroad to Hamas, and receives funds from several Arab and non-Arab countries, specifically Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. The report also stated that the committee “has financial relations with several companies and banks. The most important are the Arab Bank, Jordan Bank, Beit al-Mal, Sunqrot Company, and al-'Ajuli for Currency Exchange,” as well as general relations “with the Islamic Movement inside the green line, as well as the Jerusalem Zakat committee, as it is its founder.”
According to other public records, the Ramallah–al-Bireh Zakat Committee maintained one or more accounts at Arab Bank.
Jenin Zakat Committee
The Jenin Zakat Committee, also known as the Jenin Charity Committee, was a central part of Hamas’s civilian infrastructure in the Jenin area that disbursed a substantial portion of its charity money to the families of suicide bombers. The U.S. government identified many of the leading members of the Jenin Zakat Committee as senior Hamas leaders in Nablus. Due to the Jenin Zakat Committee’s ties to Hamas, it was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2002 by the Israeli government. Ahmed Salatneh, one-time head of the Jenin Zakat Committee, has been heavily involved with Hamas for a number of years; he was involved in transferring bomb-making materials for the preparations of explosives in 1992 and participated in a car bombing in 1993. Other leading members of the Jenin Zakat Committee were members of Hamas, including Muhammad Radwan, who stated that in 1991 or 1992, Salatneh, with whom he worked in the Jenin Zakat Committee, approached him and offered to recruit him into Hamas; Nasser Khaled Ibrahim Jarrar, identified as an operative of the al-Qassam Brigades on its website and identified by Khalid Mishal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, as a martyred Hamas operative; Ibrahim Hassan Ali Jaber, placed under administrative arrest four times by Israel for being a senior Hamas member who led riots in the First Intifada and while under arrest admitted to having been Hamas’s leader in the Jenin refugee camp, where he recruited activists and distributed leaflets; and Zayd Mahmud al-Rahim Salameh Zakarneh, a Hamas activist who has served as the director of the Jenin branch of the PA Ministry of Muslim Endowments (Waqf) and was the chairman of the Jenin Zakat Committee in the early 1990s; (see also English translation of Zakarneh Indictment). The Jenin Zakat Committee also funds and supports the families of suicide bombers and has been linked to HLF, which provided it with over $655,000 between May 1991 and December 2001.
Al-Islah Charitable Society - Ramallah & Al-Bireh
The Al-Islah Charitable Association is a multi-branch charitable organization controlled by Hamas. Its Ramallah branch was founded by Hamas military commander Jamal Tawil, who acknowledged founding the Al-Islah charity as a purportedly legitimate entity through whose accounts he could launder the monthly fund transfers he received from Hamas. According to the Israeli government, the Al-Islah Charitable Association distributes money to the families of suicide bombers and prisoners in Palestinian and Israeli jails. Tawil served as head of a Hamas prisoners committee responsible for supporting the families of Hamas prisoners and providing petty cash to the prisoners themselves. Due to the Al-Islah Charitable Association’s ties to Hamas, it was declared an “unlawful organization” in 2002 by the Israeli government. In a letter dated November 28, 2002, English translation, the German Intelligence Service (BND) informed the German Ministry of the Interior in Berlin, “The association Jam’iyat al-Islah / Al-Islah Charitable Society is directly associated with HAMAS. President of the association, until he was arrested by Israel, was Jamal AL-TAWIL, known as a leading HAMAS member. In the winter of 2001/2002, the association was banned by the Palestinian Authority upon accusations of HAMAS membership.”
According to public records, the Al-Islah Charitable Association maintained one or more accounts at Arab Bank.