Stephen Timms: Provide Banking Services to Interpal!

Interpal is a charity which has been proscribed by the US Treasury, which has identified it as part of the Hamas funding machinery. It is quite impossible to say anything about that designation, because Interpal employs the libel solicitors, Carter Ruck – who act for a number of Muslim Brotherhood claimants – to sue anybody who suggests that the designation is correct.

What we can say is that there is a certain alignment between the politics of Hamas and prominent figures associated with Interpal.

We also know that Interpal has been ordered by the Charity Commission to end its links to the Union of Good. The Union of Good has also been designated by the US Treasury which it identified as it as “an organization created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization”.

It is a criminal offence in the United Kingdom, indirectly or directly, to make “funds, other financial assets and economic resources … to, or for the benefit of” Hamas. Senior officers of a body corporate that commits such an offence are guilty of a criminal offence, if the provision of funds takes place with the “consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of” that officer.

The Charity Commission found that Interpal “had not put in place adequate due diligence and monitoring procedures to be satisfied that these organisations were not promoting terrorist ideologies or activities. Where procedures were in place, they were not sufficient nor fully implemented” (Paragraphs 115-147)

Now, we cannot say for certain that Interpal exists for the purpose of funding Hamas, in breach of United Kingdom and European Union law. However, there is certainly some evidence that would justify a proper criminal inquiry into its conduct. Remember that it took a full FBI investigation involving surprise raids on unsuspecting Holy Land Foundation activists, and in one case, the digging up of a garden, to secure the evidence which demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that a charity was in fact channeling money to Hamas.

However, as far as we know, no criminal investigation into this charity has ever taken place.

Why not? Perhaps a preliminary view has been taken that no investigation is likely to turn up evidence of any criminal offence. Or, as Panorama reported, perhaps the problem is this:

During the Commission’s inquiry, a home office official is reported to have expressed concern that any adverse finding against Interpal that blocked funds might have a significant effect on community cohesion.

It is pretty clear what ‘community cohesion’ means in this context, and what sort of ‘effects’ are feared.

Last year, Lloyds Bank – no doubt motivated by its obligations under EU, UK and US law – instructed the Islamic Bank of Britain to suspend services to Interpal. Interpal, and the pro-Hamas lobby went beserk. They have been lobbying HM Treasury to weigh in on their behalf, and not without some limited, albeit rhetorical support.

There’s this:

Trustees of the UK-based Palestinian charity Interpal met representatives from the Treasury last month to protest about Lloyds TSB’s move to cut off the charity’s bank account.

The trustees met Lord Myners, financial services secretary to the Treasury, at their request to complain about the fact that Lloyds TSB has stopped clearing Interpal’s cheques presented through the charity’s bank, the Islamic Bank of Britain.

A spokeswoman for the charity said the meeting did not bear any real fruit. “All levels of government know about the situation but still nothing is being done,” she said.

A spokesman for the Treasury said the government wasn’t getting involved “at this stage”.

“At the moment it is just a commercial matter for the bank,” the spokesman said. However, he added that “not everyone that asks for a meeting with a minister gets one”.

Then there was this:


Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will ask the government of the United States to remove the restrictions preventing the British-registered charity Interpal from receiving full banking services. [HL1121]

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government recognise the importance of the issues raised and share the concern that aid should reach those who need it most.

Although the general picture on charitable assistance to Gaza is positive, many people have raised concerns about the position of the UK-registered charity Interpal following difficulties with retaining banking services in the UK.

The banking issues affecting the charity are unusual, and are not representative of the wider picture on the ability of UK charities to provide aid to those in need. However, we still share concerns about any interruption to humanitarian aid. While commercial decisions on providing accounts and clearing services are for the banks themselves, we are discussing with relevant parties how best to ensure that charities can retain access to the banking system.

The Treasury has written to the US Government to reiterate the importance we attach to the delivery of effective charitable aid and to strengthen our dialogue with the US on how best we can facilitate legitimate charitable work.

We shall consider making further representations if appropriate.

And finally, there was this, from Stephen Timms, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury:

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.

Stephen Timms is an enthusiastic supporter of Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood aligned politics. He spoke at the Global Peace and Unity Event, which was organised by convicted terrorist, Mohammed Ali, and stood on a platform that had hosted Holocaust deniers, 9/11 Troofers, supporters of terrorism and the assassination of Salman Rushdie, and delivered a series of platitudes.

Well, if Stephen Timms really feels so strongly about Interpal, he should do something about it.

Now he can.

Because HM Treasury is taking a 65% voting share in the Lloyds Banking Group.

Now, it is one thing merely to turn a blind eye, and to affect incomprehension as to why anybody might say that Interpal could possibly be up to something fishy: and another thing altogether to actually provide banking services to the charity.

So let’s see what Stephen Timms does. The pro-Hamas lobby has heard fine words from him: but let them demand concrete action from him.

Does Stephen Timms have the guts to provide state-owned banking services to Interpal?