The Left,  UK Politics

Explain it to Stephen Timms

Stephen Timms MP is a self-described “Christian Socialist“, who is the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

He recently gave the a speech at the IPPR, which contained the following passage:

Many people are motivated by faith to give financially to alleviate suffering – for example in Gaza after the recent conflict. The UK NGO Interpal is a channel for such contributions, very widely supported by Muslims in my constituency and elsewhere, and respected by other NGOs. But its continued operation is threatened by the withdrawal of facilities by UK clearing banks, because Interpal is on a US proscribed list. It wouldn’t be right if mainstream routes for British Muslims’ humanitarian contributions were blocked by unexplained concerns from outside the UK.


The reason that Interpal is on a US proscribed list is that the US Treasury has identified it as part of the Hamas funding machinery.

Interpal/The Palestinian Relief and Development Fund

U.S. Designation Date: August 22, 2003

Background: Interpal, headquartered in the UK, has been a principal charity utilized to hide the flow of money to HAMAS. Reporting indicates it is the conduit through which money flows to HAMAS from other charities, e.g., the Al Aqsa Foundation, and that it oversees the activities of other charities. For example, the Sanabil Association for Relief and Development represents Interpal in Lebanon. Reporting also indicates that Interpal is the fundraising coordinator of HAMAS, a coordination point for other HAMAS-affiliated charities. This role is of the type that includes supervising activities of charities, developing new charities in targeted areas, instructing how funds should be transferred from one charity to another, and even determining public relations policy.

AKAs: Relief and Development Fund For Palestine
Welfare and Development Fund of Palestine
Palestinian Aid and Support Fund

For Additional Information:

The US Treasury has a very good understanding of the role that ‘charitable donations’ have played in Hamas’ strategy, and it has acted firmly against it:

HAMAS raises tens of millions or dollars per year throughout the world using charitable fundraising as cover. While HAMAS may provide money for legitimate charitable work, this work is a primary recruiting tool for the organization’s militant causes. HAMAS relies on donations from Palestinian expatriates around the world and private benefactors located in moderate Arab states, Western Europe and North America. HAMAS uses a web of charities to facilitate funding and to funnel money. Charitable donations to non-governmental organizations are commingled, moved between charities in ways that hide the money trail, and then often diverted or siphoned to support terrorism.

The funds pouring into HAMAS coffers directly undermine the Middle East peace process. These funds allow the group to continue to foment violence, strengthen its terrorist infrastructure, and undermine responsible leadership.

The political leadership of HAMAS directs its terrorist networks just as they oversee their other activities. HAMAS leader Yassin confirms this relationship, stating to al-Sharq al-Awsat on August 12, 2002: “When we make decisions on the political level and convey them to the military wing, it abides by it normally.” The intensity of this relationship is reflected in Yassin’s words quoted by Reuters on May 12, 1998:

We can not separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. HAMAS is one body.

A report issued by Human Rights Watch has also noted the unified nature of HAMAS:

In the case of Hamas, there is abundant evidence that the military wing is accountable to a political steering committee . . . . Yassin himself, as well as Salah Shehadah, the late founder and commander of the ‘Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have confirmed in public remarks that the military wing implements policies that are set by the political wing.” Erased in a Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks Against Israeli Civilians at 63 (October 2002).

Fundraising may involve community solicitation in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East or solicitations directly to wealthy donors. While some donors may be aware of the intended use of their donations, too many innocent donors who intend for their money to be used to provide humanitarian services here or abroad, are unwittingly funding acts of violence when these funds are diverted to terrorist causes.

HAMAS fundraising directly undermines Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas’s ability to clamp down on this terrorist organization. One of the obstacles and threats to establishing a meaningful dialogue toward peace comes from terrorist groups such as HAMAS, which view peace discussions as inimical to their interests and are intent on undermining the multilateral work on the roadmap by fomenting violence. In order to support momentum towards peace, to strengthen the ability of the new Palestinian leadership to take the actions it must take against HAMAS, the assets of groups like HAMAS must be frozen, as well as the assets of organizations raising funds for such terrorist groups.

E.O. 13224 provides a means to disrupt the financial-support network funding terrorist attacks committed by HAMAS. Under this Order, the United States government may block the assets of HAMAS (which it has done) and the assets of individuals and entities owned or controlled by; acting for or on behalf of; or providing support, financial or otherwise, to designated terrorists and terrorist organizations. HAMAS has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (66 Fed. Reg. 51088) and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224, “Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions with Persons who Commit, or Support Terrorism.”

Last year, the US Treasury designated another charity called the “Union of Good”, identifying it as “an organization created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization”. The Union of Good is also linked to Interpal:

The Union of Good’s executive leadership and board of directors includes Hamas leaders, Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), and other terrorist supporters. The secretary general of the Union of Good, for example, also acts as the vice-chairman of the United Kingdom-based Interpal, which was designated in 2003 for providing financial support to Hamas under the cover of charitable activity. As of mid-2007, this official served on the Hamas executive committee under Hamas leader Khaled Misha’al.

Mr Mustafa, also known as Essam Yusuf, appears several times in the transcript of a Panorama documentary that considered the role of UK Charities in funding Hamas:

WARE: Charity commission guidelines require Interpal’s trustees to disassociate themselves completely from any hint of support for terrorism. And yet, on television in the Gulf, Interpal’s Vice Chairman has sounded as if he might support terrorism. 2002

With me is brother Essam Yusuf from Qatar. Go ahead brother

Essam YUSUF: Peace be with you. Greetings to the Sheikh of the Mujahideen. Sheikh Dr Yusuf Ql-Qaradawi. The sheikh of heroic stands. But my biggest salutation is to the Mujahideen, to the heroes of the Palestinian people who are sacrificing everything that is precious.

JOHN WARE Doctor Yusuf denied his words meant that he supported suicide bombers. He said he was simply saluting Sheikh Qaradawi as the Sheikh of strugglers. He did say that he was opposed to suicide bombers targeting innocent people, but it was for others to decide who was innocent. An article in Doctor Yusuf’s name also talks of “our battle with the Zionist enemy” being a long one. “And of support for Jihad, in all its forms, until God allows for victory. Victory only comes from God.” To Hamas supporters, Jihad, in all its forms, includes suicide bombing. But Doctor Yusuf insists he never wrote or approved those words. Even though the article was commissioned by his own organisation, the Union of Good and appeared in his name. Doctor Yusuf also denies his Union of Good website expresses support for Hamas. Even though it includes a picture of Sheikh Yassin, the founder of Hamas, on the page of a children’s campaign called the Al Yassin Fund.

WARE: In Yemen, Doctor Yusuf also met Sheikh Mohammed Moyad, now in jail in America for funding Hamas, and trying to fund Al Qaeda. He ran a charity in the Union of Good, and he was being investigated by the FBI. They’d set up a sting at this hotel in Frankfurt. Their informants posed as men who wanted to spend $2 million on Jihad.

FBI video

WARE: This video was played at Al Moyad’s trial. He offered 4 receipts from Islamic charities as proof that he could get money to Jihad.

MOYAD: This one, for instance, we deliver it to Hamas. This one we deliver it to the interior. This one we send it to the martyrs. But when we are in front of our government¿ [laughter]

WARE: One of the receipts was from Interpal, for $70,000, which listed items like food, medical aid, and summer camps for children.

MOORE: In the middle of that conversation room service happened to walk in, in the hotel in Frankfurt. And when they walked in Moyad quickly flipped the papers over so that they couldn’t be seen, and instructed everyone to change the subject, which obviously, if you were talking about charitable matters, he wouldn’t have had to do.

WARE: To reassure the FBI informants their money would actually fund Jihad, Al Moyad then offered these details about Interpal.

AL MOYAD: It’s Interpal. It’s a company which I visited in London, and I sat with them there. They’re good.

WARE: Al Moyad said that, in London, he’d dealt personally with Interpal’s managing trustee, Doctor Essam Yusuf.

MOYAD: I sat with Essam, he’s one of the best people. He is, tell him, the assistant, the one responsible for things after Sheikh Al-Qaradawi in the Union of Good.

PARTICIPANT: Are they Hamas as well?

MOYAD: They are working for all of the Islamic jihad. So this is Hamas also.

During the US prosecution of the Hamas funding and advocacy network, uncovered in the Holy Land Foundation trial, the centrality of fundraising in western democracies to Hamas became clear. You may remember that, during the course of the trial, Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood documentation was disclosed, in which their aim was described in the following terms:

The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ’sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.

As we have seen, Hamas’s strategy depends on its ability to monopolise the provision of welfare, where it operates. Welfare is delivered to Hamas supporters. Its political opponents are starved, kneecapped, and thrown of buildings.

So jealously does it guard that monopoly, that it steals aid from UNWRA. This is the position of the Hamas Social Affairs Minister on the distribution of aid in Gaza:

Earlier in the week, Mr Kurd warned Unrwa not to “become a political player in Gaza”. He said all aid should be distributed through Hamas.

Hamas understands the political nature of aid distribution. So does the US Government. But does Stephen Timms?

There are two possibilities:

1. Stephen Timms is an ingenue, who really has no idea why Interpal was designated. Despite being Financial Secretary to the Treasury, he has no understanding of the impact on anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing laws have on banks. He would be surprised and shocked to discover the role that overseas charities play in the funding of Hamas.

2. He knows perfectly well why Interpal was designated by the US Treasury, and why banks are withdrawing facilities from this organisation. However, he is sympathetic to Hamas, and doesn’t wish to stand in their way.

Stephen Timms was a speaker at the Global Peace and Unity Conference, which showcased Holocaust deniers, 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and supporters of the assassination of Sir Salman Rushdie. The nature of these speakers, and of the event, was well known in advance of the meeting. He decided to proceed with his appearance at the event, despite concerns being expressed by some of his cabinet colleagues.

Have a read of his speech. See if you can work out why Stephen Timms is so confused.