Georgetown University and Radical Islamists: It’s a Family Affair

IPT News
March 28, 2017

Georgetown University’s Qatar campus is set to host Sami Al-Arian for a lecture tonight in Doha. According to a news release from the school’s Middle Eastern Studies Student Association, Al-Arian is a “civil rights activist” who hopes to challenge students to “make it a better, and more equitable and peaceful world.”

Those are charitable descriptions for Al-Arian, a documented member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Majlis Shura, or board of directors. According to the Islamic Jihad’s bylaws, which law enforcement agents found during searches of Al-Arian’s home and offices, there can be “No Peace without Islam.” The group’s objective is to create “a state of terror, instability and panic in the souls of Zionists and especially the groups of settlers, and force them to leave their houses.”

It’s an agenda Al-Arian took to heart. Following a double suicide bombing in 1995 that killed 19 Israelis, Al-Arian solicited money from a Kuwaiti legislator. “The latest operation, carried out by the two mujahideen who were martyred for the sake of God, is the best guide and witness to what they believing few can do in the face of Arab and Islamic collapse at the heels of the Zionist enemy…” he wrote.

“I call upon you to try to extend true support of the jihad effort in Palestine so that operations such as these can continue, so that the people do not lose faith in Islam and its representatives…” he wrote. Four years earlier, he spoke at a fundraiser in Cleveland, introduced as the head of the “active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.”

Why, then, is a Jesuit university, albeit at a campus in Qatar, hosting a leader of a designated terrorist group’s “active arm”?

There’s a family bond between Georgetown University and the Al-Arians. Son Abdullah is an assistant professor at Georgetown’s Qatar campus, teaching history in its School of Foreign Service. He earned his Ph.D. at Georgetown, writing his dissertation about the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood during the 1970s, a time his father acknowledges being part of the global Islamist movement.

Jonathan Brown, Al-Arian’s son-in-law, also works at Georgetown, as the [Saudi] Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization. Brown recently drew criticism for a lecture in which he argued that slavery isn’t inherently “morally evil” if the slave is treated well. He also minimized sexual consent as a recent social more, arguing no one is really free enough to grant consent anyway.

Property records show Brown and his wife Laila Al-Arian bought a modest house just outside Tampa in 2015. Brown also owns a $1.1 million house in Mclean, Va.

Brown’s boss, Georgetown University Professor John Esposito, has been a staunch Al-Arian defender. Al-Arian is “an extraordinarily bright, articulate scholar and intellectual-activist, a man of conscience with a strong commitment to peace and social justice,” Esposito wrote in a letter to a federal judge.

Brown’s slavery and sexual consent lecture was hosted by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon, Va. The IIIT was a prime financial supporter of a think tank Al-Arian founded in Tampa called the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). It provided cover for at least three other members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Shura Council, including his brother-in-law Mazen Al-Najjar, an academic named Basheer Nafi and Ramadan Abdullah Shallah – the Islamic Jihad’s secretary general since late 1995.

Federal prosecutors wanted Al-Arian to tell a grand jury what he knew about the IIIT’s financial support for terrorists. He refused. Al-Arian was charged with criminal contempt after maintaining that stance even after a judge granted him immunity for his truthful testimony.

The case never went to trial. Al-Arian was deported to Turkey in 2015, pursuant to terms in his 2006 guilty plea connected to his Palestinian Islamic Jihad support. He now works as “director of the Center for Regional Politics at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University,” the Georgetown Middle East students group’s news release said.

Al-Arian is a computer scientist.

Sabahattin Zaim opened in 2010 and claims to have about 1,100 undergraduate students.

While the Georgetown University program is organized by a student group, promotional material lists Mehran Kamrava as moderator. Kamrava directs the Georgetown School of Foreign Service’s Center for International and Regional Studies.

His presence adds the university’s imprimatur to the Al-Arian event. In addition, the School of Foreign Service posted the news release promoting Al-Arian’s lecture.

Qatar has supported Hamas, the Islamic Jihad’s rival Palestinian terrorist group, providing money and refuge for Hamas leaders. In that light, Al-Arian’s invitation doesn’t seem out of place. But it is still an event hosted by a Georgetown University campus, moderated by one of its prominent faculty.

While Al-Arian has tried to deny his Islamic Jihad activities, or at least minimize them, his work to advance the group’s bloody ambitions is undeniable. He self-identified as the Shura Council’s secretary. In his plea agreement, he admits lying about Shallah’s prominent role in the Islamic Jihad.

During his 1991 remarks in Cleveland after his “active arm” introduction, Al-Arian urged donations for jihad. “Your brothers in Palestine are struggling with their beings,” he said, “so let us struggle here with our money.”

“This is the way of giving,” he said earlier. “This is the way of struggle. This is the way of battle. This is the way of jihad. This is the way of martyrdom. Thus is the way of blood, because this is the path to heaven.”

The student association’s news release failed to mention this background as a convicted felon, describing the former University of South Florida professor as a “civil rights advocate.” It fails to mention Al-Arian’s guilty plea, and whitewashes his resulting deportation to Turkey by saying “Al-Arian relocated.”

The federal judge who saw all the evidence against Al-Arian, who watched him lie about his true identity and violent ambitions, called him a “master manipulator.” Old habits die hard, apparently. The question in this case is whether Georgetown and its student groups are being duped or are witting accomplices in whitewashing a terrorist into a “human rights advocate.”

A Last, Desperate Plea to Excuse Hamas Support

hamas-pleaIPT NewsJanuary 12, 2017:

As President Obama’s tenure reaches its final days, Islamists in the United States are waging a furious lobbying campaign aimed at securing the freedom of five men convicted of illegally routing millions of dollars to Hamas.

An open campaign urges the president to pardon five former officials from the defunct, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), casting them as victims of “anti-Muslim hysteria” triggered by the 9/11 attacks. In 2008, a jury convicted the five – Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mezain, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader – of using a network of Palestinian charities controlled by Hamas to funneling money to the terrorist group.

It is not clear whether the requests to pardon the five, or to commute their sentences and release them from prison, is being considered seriously. Obama’s pardons thus far involved somewhat less serious crimes including fraud, embezzlement and non-violent drug offenses.

But advocates are pushing social media campaigns and online petitions aimed at securing a pardon, or, short of that, a commutation of the five men’s sentences to set them free. The campaign also has enlisted support from at least one member of Congress.

Left unspoken is an undeniable truth behind the pardon/commutation campaign, and behind any ongoing defense of the Holy Land Foundation: Advocates do not believe Hamas support is wrong.

The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is leading the charge, supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and pro-Palestinian groups.

CAIR’s appeal provided a White House switchboard number for supporters to call and request commutations. Some sites even include contact information for key members of Congress, urging supporters to emphasize the “cruelly disproportionate” length of sentences – from a low of 15 years for El-Mezain, to 65-year terms for Baker and Elashi.

CAIR’s Arizona director Imraan Siddiqi described the prosecution as “a political lynching of charity workers … Its effects still haunt American Muslims.”

After reviewing the entire record in 2011, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals saw it quite differently.

Pleas from the MLFA and Siddiqi ignore the exhibits – many of them internal HLF and related documents – showing the family ties between some defendants and Hamas leaders, a reliance on Hamas officials to speak at HLF fundraisers along with other, consistent pro-Hamas messages.

In addition, records show, HLF (formerly known as the Occupied Land Fund) was part of a network called the “Palestine Committee” in the United States. That committee answered to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s mandate that global chapters create “Palestine Committees” in their home countries. Their task was “to support Hamas from abroad,” the Fifth Circuit noted in upholding the convictions and sentences. In the United States, that task fell in part to Hamas political leader Mousa Abu Marzook, who helped create HLF and two other branches – a propaganda wing known as the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and a think-tank called the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR).

CAIR was added to the Palestine Committee after its 1994 founding.

“The evidence showed that the long-standing connection between HLF and Hamas began in the late 1980s when HLF arose as a fundraising arm for the Palestine Committee …” the appeals court ruling said. “This fact was notably evident from the … [internal Palestine Committee] documents, which showed that HLF was created along with the IAP.” In addition, Palestine Committee bylaws “specifically recognized HLF as ‘the official organization for fundraising.'”

HLF apologists claim the group was merely interested in helping needy widows and orphans. But, the court pointed out, the orphans included Yehia Ayyash’s children. Ayyash was Hamas’s top bomb maker, nicknamed “The Engineer,” before being killed by Israel.

“An audio tape from 1996 that was seized from HLF’s offices contained songs praising Hamas and discussions of suicide bombers as heroes,” the ruling said.

“We believe that a jury could not help but infer from the above evidence that the defendants had a close association with Hamas and that HLF acted to fund Hamas both before and after Hamas’s designation as a terrorist organization.”

Still, CAIR’s Texas chapter called the five convicted HLF officials “humanitarians,” and described their imprisonment as “an immense wrong.” It cited defense attorney Nancy Hollander’s claim that there was no evidence showing her client, HLF executive director Shukri Abu Baker, breaking the law. “Not a word from his lips that he hated Jews. Not a word from his lips that he supported Hamas. These were fictions,” Hollander said.

1933That cannot be said for Mufid Abdulqader, who performed and acted in a singing troupe that helped raise money for HLF at IAP events. In this video, admitted into evidence during the 2008 trial, he is shown wearing camouflage and a kaffiyeh as he sings, “I am Hamas, O dear ones … I swear to wipe out the name of the Zionist. And protect my land, Palestine.” Then, he pretends to strangle an actor portraying an Israeli.

Hollander failed to mention that Baker ran HLF and was responsible for who spoke and what was said at its fundraisers. Those events routinely featured Hamas leaders and activists. She also neglected to mention her client’s participation in a secret 1993 Philadelphia gathering of Hamas members and supporters who schemed about how to “derail” the U.S.-brokered Oslo peace accord without coming off looking like terror supporters.

It was Baker who set a key ground rule for the talks, which were secretly recorded and translated by the FBI: No one should mention Hamas by name, he instructed. Instead, call it “Sister Samah,” which is Hamas spelled backward.

The gathering, Baker said, was “a joint workshop between the Holy Land Foundation and the IAP.” Participants should not mention Hamas by name.

Hollander then compared the HLF case – brought against a handful of men with documented and recorded connections to Hamas – to the mass internment of 117,000 Japanese American men, women and children during World War II.

The current campaign would settle for a sentencing commutation, essentially freeing the men on time served. The sentences, from 15 to 65 years in prison, were overly harsh, advocates say.

But the Fifth Circuit had considered this, too, rejecting defense department arguments. Its ruling noted that the probation office’s presentence recommendations included significant terrorism enhancements because HLF gave money to Hamas “in order to rid Palestine of the Jewish people through violent jihad, HAMAS’ mission.”

It added that “the trial was replete with evidence to satisfy application of the terrorism enhancement because of the defendants’ intent to support Hamas. The Hamas charter clearly delineated the goal of meeting the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with violent jihad and the rejection of peace efforts and compromise solutions. The defendants knew that they were supporting Hamas, as there was voluminous evidence showing their close ties to the Hamas movement.”

Those claiming the HLF defendants suffered an injustice, or that they somehow deserve relief, lie about this record or pretend it does not exist. To acknowledge reality is to shatter their own argument, or to come clean about their true feelings about Hamas terrorism. They know that’s a losing hand. It’s something Shukri Abu Baker talked about in that 1993 Philadelphia meeting.

They need to mislead people if they are going to be successful, Baker said.

“War is deception,” he said. “Deceive, camouflage, pretend that you’re leaving while you’re walking that way … Deceive your enemy.”

Because Nothing Says ‘I CAIR’ Like a Pardon

cair-pleaNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, January 18, 2017:

Thinking about what else could happen in the next 48 hours?

The Investigative Project on Terrorism reports that CAIR (the Council on America-Islamic Relations) is leading a furious lobbying campaign by Islamists in the U.S. to persuade President Obama to free the five Hamas operatives convicted in the Holy Land Foundation case.

Isn’t that rich?

The HLF prosecution is the most significant terrorism financing case the Justice Department has ever done. Hamas, a designated terrorist organization under federal law, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the HLF case, the government proved not only that leading Islamist organizations in America were helping the Brotherhood transmit millions of dollars overseas to Hamas; prosecutors further demonstrated – using the Brotherhood’s own internal memoranda – that the Brotherhood saw its mission in the United States as “a grand jihad to eliminate and destroy Western civilization from within.”

In this grand jihad, the Brotherhood was in cahoots with these leading Islamist organizations, many of which had roots in the Brotherhood. One of these was … CAIR.

Indeed, Hamas and Brotherhood activists created CAIR in 1993-94 because they realized they needed an organization with legal know-how and media polish to advance the Islamist agenda. Having studied the United States (in a way that we resist studying radical Islam), they also realized that if they labeled their new creation a Muslim “civil rights” organization, the media would play along – CAIR would be lauded as a social justice warrior rather than revealed as a jihadist mouthpiece.

So CAIR was shown to be an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF case. After the convictions of the five HLF officials in 2008, however, the incoming Obama administration opted against prosecuting CAIR and the other Islamist organizations that had assisted the conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization. In fact, early in his administration, Obama proclaimed his commitment “to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.”

As I explained at the time, zakat is often misleadingly translated as “charitable giving” by commentators and government officials. Actually, it is the fortification of the ummah (the notional worldwide Muslim community). Under classic sharia, zakat may only be contributed to Muslims. There are eight categories of permissible zakat recipients; one is Muslims who are fighting in jihad operations. (See the ancient sharia manual Reliance of the Traveller, sec. h8.17: “Zakat: The seventh category is those fighting for Allah, meaning people engaged in Islamic military operations for whom no salary has been allotted in the army roster[.]”)

I assume the president was simply uninformed about Islamic law – although this is Obama we’re talking about, so maybe it’s that he figures he knows more about how it should be construed than anyone on earth, including those who’ve spent their lives immersed in it. But Islamists would interpret his stated commitment to “ensure that they can fulfill zakat” as ensuring that they could do what the HLF defendants were convicted of doing: providing material support to terrorists. To Islamists, the five HLF convicts have been stuck serving between 15- and 65-year prison sentences for something they believe Obama has said should not be a crime in the first place.

Following the HLF convictions, it was reported that the Obama Justice Department had blocked prosecutions against a top CAIR official and leaders of other Brotherhood-tied organizations.

And now CAIR is pushing for the HLF defendants to be released from their very lengthy sentences. The Islamists’ narrative, as the Investigative Project explains, is that these Hamas operatives are really victims of, yes, “anti-Muslim hysteria.”

It’s a shrewd campaign. The Obama administration has been wholesale onboard the anti-anti-jihad bandwagon since day-one, and it often spouts the anti-Muslim hysteria party line. The administration has championed the Muslim Brotherhood; worked with Islamist governments to restrict American free speech rights (regarding criticism of Islam); armed and trained militias in Libya and Syria that were threaded with jihadists; and colluded with the Islamist government of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan – a Muslim Brotherhood backer who is among the world’s leading supporters of Hamas. As illustrated by the administration’s shameful orchestration last month of an anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Security Council, Obama is sympathetic to the hard left’s view that Palestinian terrorists are not really terrorists – they are members of “political organizations” whose regrettable brutality is best understood as “resistance” to “occupation.”

If he were to release the Hamas convicts from the HLF case, Obama would (again) be a hero to both Islamists and leftists. He would simultaneously enrage national-security conservatives in the United States and the Israeli government.

In other words, he’d be doing what he’s done for eight years.

Also see:

A Last, Desperate Plea to Excuse Hamas Support

cair-plea

IPT News
January 12, 2017

As President Obama’s tenure reaches its final days, Islamists in the United States are waging a furious lobbying campaign aimed at securing the freedom of five men convicted of illegally routing millions of dollars to Hamas.

An open campaign urges the president to pardon five former officials from the defunct, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), casting them as victims of “anti-Muslim hysteria” triggered by the 9/11 attacks. In 2008, a jury convicted the five – Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mezain, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader – of using a network of Palestinian charities controlled by Hamas to funneling money to the terrorist group.

It is not clear whether the requests to pardon the five, or to commute their sentences and release them from prison, is being considered seriously. Obama’s pardons thus far involved somewhat less serious crimes including fraud, embezzlement and non-violent drug offenses.

But advocates are pushing social media campaigns and online petitions aimed at securing a pardon, or, short of that, a commutation of the five men’s sentences to set them free. The campaign also has enlisted support from at least one member of Congress.

Left unspoken is an undeniable truth behind the pardon/commutation campaign, and behind any ongoing defense of the Holy Land Foundation: Advocates do not believe Hamas support is wrong.

The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is leading the charge, supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and pro-Palestinian groups.

CAIR’s appeal provided a White House switchboard number for supporters to call and request commutations. Some sites even include contact information for key members of Congress, urging supporters to emphasize the “cruelly disproportionate” length of sentences – from a low of 15 years for El-Mezain, to 65-year terms for Baker and Elashi.

CAIR’s Arizona director Imraan Siddiqui described the prosecution as “a political lynching of charity workers … Its effects still haunt American Muslims.”

After reviewing the entire record in 2011, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals saw it quite differently.

Pleas from the MLFA and Siddiqi ignore the exhibits – many of them internal HLF and related documents – showing the family ties between some defendants and Hamas leaders, a reliance on Hamas officials to speak at HLF fundraisers along with other, consistent pro-Hamas messages.

In addition, records show, HLF (formerly known as the Occupied Land Fund) was part of a network called the “Palestine Committee” in the United States. That committee answered to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s mandate that global chapters create “Palestine Committees” in their home countries. Their task was “to support Hamas from abroad,” the Fifth Circuit noted in upholding the convictions and sentences. In the United States, that task fell in part to Hamas political leader Mousa Abu Marzook, who helped create HLF and two other branches – a propaganda wing known as the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and a think-tank called the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR).

CAIR was added to the Palestine Committee after its 1994 founding.

“The evidence showed that the long-standing connection between HLF and Hamas began in the late 1980s when HLF arose as a fundraising arm for the Palestine Committee …” the appeals court ruling said. “This fact was notably evident from the … [internal Palestine Committee] documents, which showed that HLF was created along with the IAP.” In addition, Palestine Committee bylaws “specifically recognized HLF as ‘the official organization for fundraising.'”

HLF apologists claim the group was merely interested in helping needy widows and orphans. But, the court pointed out, the orphans included Yehia Ayyash’s children. Ayyash was Hamas’s top bomb maker, nicknamed “The Engineer,” before being killed by Israel.

“An audio tape from 1996 that was seized from HLF’s offices contained songs praising Hamas and discussions of suicide bombers as heroes,” the ruling said.

“We believe that a jury could not help but infer from the above evidence that the defendants had a close association with Hamas and that HLF acted to fund Hamas both before and after Hamas’s designation as a terrorist organization.”

Still, CAIR’s Texas chapter called the five convicted HLF officials “humanitarians,” and described their imprisonment as “an immense wrong.” It cited defense attorney Nancy Hollander’s claim that there was no evidence showing her client, HLF executive director Shukri Abu Baker, breaking the law. “Not a word from his lips that he hated Jews. Not a word from his lips that he supported Hamas. These were fictions,” Hollander said.

That cannot be said for Mufid Abdulqader, who performed and acted in a singing troupe that helped raise money for HLF at IAP events. In this video, admitted into evidence during the 2008 trial, he is shown wearing camouflage and a kaffiyeh as he sings, “I am Hamas, O dear ones … I swear to wipe out the name of the Zionist. And protect my land, Palestine.” Then, he pretends to strangle an actor portraying an Israeli.

Hollander failed to mention that Baker ran HLF and was responsible for who spoke and what was said at its fundraisers. Those events routinely featured Hamas leaders and activists. She also neglected to mention her client’s participation in a secret 1993 Philadelphia gathering of Hamas members and supporters who schemed about how to “derail” the U.S.-brokered Oslo peace accord without coming off looking like terror supporters.

It was Baker who set a key ground rule for the talks, which were secretly recorded and translated by the FBI: No one should mention Hamas by name, he instructed. Instead, call it “Sister Samah,” which is Hamas spelled backward.

The gathering, Baker said, was “a joint workshop between the Holy Land Foundation and the IAP.” Participants should not mention Hamas by name.

Hollander then compared the HLF case – brought against a handful of men with documented and recorded connections to Hamas – to the mass internment of 117,000 Japanese American men, women and children during World War II.

The current campaign would settle for a sentencing commutation, essentially freeing the men on time served. The sentences, from 15 to 65 years in prison, were overly harsh, advocates say.

But the Fifth Circuit had considered this, too, rejecting defense department arguments. Its ruling noted that the probation office’s presentence recommendations included significant terrorism enhancements because HLF gave money to Hamas “in order to rid Palestine of the Jewish people through violent jihad, HAMAS’ mission.”

It added that “the trial was replete with evidence to satisfy application of the terrorism enhancement because of the defendants’ intent to support Hamas. The Hamas charter clearly delineated the goal of meeting the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with violent jihad and the rejection of peace efforts and compromise solutions. The defendants knew that they were supporting Hamas, as there was voluminous evidence showing their close ties to the Hamas movement.”

Those claiming the HLF defendants suffered an injustice, or that they somehow deserve relief, lie about this record or pretend it does not exist. To acknowledge reality is to shatter their own argument, or to come clean about their true feelings about Hamas terrorism. They know that’s a losing hand. It’s something Shukri Abu Baker talked about in that 1993 Philadelphia meeting.

They need to mislead people if they are going to be successful, Baker said.

“War is deception,” he said. “Deceive, camouflage, pretend that you’re leaving while you’re walking that way … Deceive your enemy.”

Funding Terrorism – The Buck Stops Here

funding-terrorism

by Patrick Dunleavy
IPT News
December 6, 2016

“Follow the money” – that fundamental rule for investigating organized crime – also holds true for uncovering terrorist organizations. But if the search leads to your own doorstep, immediate and decisive action must be taken.

This may be the case for the U.S. government in light of recent statements by Mahmoud Abbas, the current president of the Palestinian Authority. The 81-year-old Abbas, who has been president since 2005, is calling for unifying the Fatah party government with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. President Bill Clinton’s executive order first labeled Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in 1995.

Hamas was included among terrorist groups whose “grave acts of violence … disrupt the Middle East peace process [and] constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

The State Department followed that up by labeling Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. Those actions make it prohibited by law for any U.S. citizen to provide material support, including currency, to the organization. That means that if you or I gave a dollar to them or their pseudo charities, we can go to prison.

The U.S. provides approximately $400 million annually to the Palestinian Authority (PA). That support cannot continue legally if the PA unites with Hamas,  unless two critical conditions are met. First, Hamas would have to recognize “the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist.” And second, just as crucial, Hamas must accept all previously negotiated Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

Under its current charter – which calls for Israel’s destruction – this will never happen. Hamas is an Islamic organization, formed in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood by a group of men including radical Islamic cleric Sheik Ahmed Yassin.  Its very name is an acronym, Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah, for the Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas wants a fundamentalist Islamic state on the very land allotted to the nation of Israel by the United Nations in 1948.

Since its formation, Hamas has been responsible for suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and other heinous acts resulting in the deaths of innocent men, women, and children. It has also stolen (or re-directed) funds and support provided by the United Nations relief organizations and other charities intended to help the people of Gaza rebuild. Hamas has used the materials to build tunnels, buy weapons and construct military installations used to attack Israel.

Do we really think that they would not be able to siphon off money from the funds the U.S. provides to the Palestinian Authority if an alliance government is formed? That would be foolish naiveté and dangerous diplomacy.

In combating terrorist organizations like al-Qaida, ISIS, and Al Shabaab, counter terrorism experts strive to cut off funding to these groups. That’s because if you cut off the finances, the organizations will not be able to reconstitute or recruit. Giving them a handout or opening another spigot from which they could water the fertile soil of jihad is counter to the goal of eliminating the threat posed to Western democracies by radical Islam.

Having just gone through eight years of an administration that refused to use the term “radical Islamism” when discussing terrorism, the U.S. must say “NO” to the Palestinian Authority/Hamas alliance. Otherwise we will find ourselves, the U.S. taxpayers, providing material support to a radical Islamic terrorist organization. Enough with the handouts. The buck stops here.

IPT Senior Fellow Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad. He currently teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School.

Hamas Funding Sources Drying Up

f1by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
November 14, 2016

Hamas in Gaza is facing an acute financial crisis as its overseas cash sources dry up. This is forcing the Islamist regime and its armed terrorist wing, the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades, to resort to increasingly desperate measures, such as using international aid organizations to funnel cash away from Gazan civilians.

Hamas’s dire financial situation has multiple causes. Egypt has effectively blocked off many smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to Sinai, which previously were used to transfer money into Gaza from Hamas donors.

Additionally, Hamas finds itself without a clear international backer these days. Not only is Egypt under the rule of President Sisi decidedly hostile, but relations between Hamas and Iran are unstable, rising and falling periodically due to disagreement over conflict raging in Syria.

Iran provides Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad with military support through its own generals, and thousands of assistance fighters from its Lebanese terror proxy Hizballah. Palestinians generally oppose the Assad regime.

Nevertheless, Iran sometimes does try to smuggle money to Hamas, but this source of funding is unreliable.

Qatar’s financial aid to Gaza has, since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war, been limited to civilian reconstruction programs. Here, too, Hamas has gotten involved, seized apartment buildings to use as financial assets.

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee late last month that sources of outside funding for Hamas are drying up.

Recent revelations by Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, confirm this situation.

In August, the Shin Bet revealed that Hamas had been targeting international aid organization operating in Gaza, rerouting money intended for humanitarian assistance towards preparations for war with Israel.

For example, Hamas stole 60 percent of the annual budget of the World Vision international air organization, stealing 7.2 million dollars a year from it, according to the Shin Bet. Money intended to feed and help Gazan children instead went towards purchasing weapons, building bases, and digging attack tunnels.

The theft went as far as taking thousands of food packages intended for Gazan civilians and sending them to armed members of Hamas territorial battalions, according to the Shin Bet investigation.

World Vision responded by firing 120 Gaza employees.

Also in August, Israel charged an engineer from Gaza with exploiting his position in the United Nations Development Program, which rebuilds damaged residential buildings, for rerouting 300 tons of construction material to help build a Hamas naval terrorist base.

On Nov. 1, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) exposed a Hamas plan to smuggle money to its operatives in Israeli prisons, and to its West Bank terror cells, by forcing Palestinians who have travel papers allowing them into Israel to act as cash smugglers.

Two Hamas operatives targeted Gazan civilians at a border crossing on their way to Israel for business or medical treatment, said the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai.

In July, the Shin Bet arrested two Gazans with tens of thousands of dollars hidden in their shoes. They were under Hamas orders to transfer the cash to operatives in the West Bank to fund terrorist attacks. Hamas intelligence agents had been approaching Gazan civilians systematically for money smuggling purposes, Shin Bet said.

Hamas’s financial situation is part of a larger ticking bomb that is the Gazan economy. “The whole of the Gaza Strip is in economic-civilian distress,” Liberman told Knesset.

Noting that 95 percent of Gaza’s civilian economic funding come from the international community, Liberman said Israel faced a structural tension between its wish to improve the living conditions of ordinary Gazans and the attempts by Hamas to exploit Israel’s humanitarian steps. Hamas has stolen construction material, injected into Gaza by Israel for civilian reconstruction, to build itself up militarily, Liberman said.

According to Liberman, as part of its bid to keep money from the international community pouring into Gaza’s economy, Hamas also refuses to resolve crises. For example, it did not take link up Gaza’s purification plant, paid for by the World Bank (and costing $100 million), to the electric grid, despite the fact that Israel approved a unique electrical supply to it, Liberman added.

Meanwhile, more than 90 percent of Gaza’s water is unfit for consumption, and it will take at least two years for the international community to set up desalination plants on Gaza’s coastline. A water crisis will likely strike Gaza long before that, Liberman said. Israel is formulating a water crisis response policy.

The warning signs from Gaza’s economic situation continue to mount, driven by Hamas’s insistence of using the enclave as a fortress of jihadist hostility towards Israel and ignoring its peoples’ basic needs.

Hamas’s 26,000 armed members, and 40,000 government employees receive their salaries, and the regime is building up its armed forces despite the cash shortages. Ordinary Gazans, on the other hand, are on their own.

Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is
the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

Raids, Arrests Show 9/11’s Lessons Are Global

notre

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
September 12, 2016

They are known as “the 102 minutes that changed America.”  Fifteen years later, it is increasingly clear that the 102 minutes of the Sept. 11 attacks also reshaped and changed the world.

Indeed perhaps even more than Americans, Europeans now feel the strongest aftershocks, having been shaken by more than 10 Islamist terror strikes in the past 20 months alone.

Hence as America commemorates the 15th anniversary of 9/11, several European countries are intensifying their intelligence activity. In the process, they are discovering more and more terror cells, resulting in multiple arrests Europe-wide just this past week. More are likely to come, particularly in France and Belgium, judging from a recent CNN report which found that the plotters of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks had intended them “to be far worse, to occur in other European countries as well, and, investigators believe, had planned to follow them up with strikes in several locations.”

CNN also uncovered signs that ISIS was planning to increase its activity in the UK – which may explain the Sept. 8 arrests  of two West London men suspected of preparing an act of terrorism and funding terrorist activity. A third man arrested in East London the same day was also taken into custody on another terror-related charge. The arrests follow other raids in Birmingham and Stoke in late August, in which four men were taken into custody on charges of planning a terrorist attack.

But ISIS is doing more than planning attacks. It appears also to be exploring new strategies and weapons, according to the 17-year-old son of Belgian imam Shayh Alami. The boy has called for the death of Christians in the past.  After his arrest late last month, according to the Mirror, the youth (who has not been named) told police that the terrorist group has begun inciting a kind of Islamist chainsaw massacre, encouraging its European followers to take chainsaws to Christians in shopping centers.

And in France, four days after a car loaded with gas cylinders was spotted parked near Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, police arrested three women, ages 19, 23, and 39, also on charges of planning a terrorist attack. The arrests, which coincidentally also took place on Sept. 8, soon led to the arrests of four other suspected “radical Islamists,” according to the prosecutor’s office. At least one of the three women, Ines Madani, reportedly wrote a letter pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and spoke on the phone about plots to bomb Paris train stations. Hence, while the parked car appeared rigged to explode, the New York Times reports, officials clearly found its presence suspicious. In short time, they traced its ties to that phone conversation: the car belongs to Madani’s father.

Further investigation also showed that the group planned attacks on police in what French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve described as “new and, moreover, imminent violent actions.”

Apparently, they weren’t the only ones: On Sept. 11, French authorities also arrested a 15-year-old boy on suspicion of preparing “imminent and violent action.” Like the women arrested previously, the boy is believed to have had contact with suspected ISIS militant Rashid Kasheem, who is French. Kasheem is now in Syria, but has regularly called for attacks in France, LeMonde reports.

Not all the activity in Europe of late has been directly related to attacks, however. Among the lessons learned from 9/11 is the importance of terror finance and the insidious methods through which money is transferred to support terrorist groups worldwide.

Tracing those connections remains crucial to counterterrorist intelligence, which explains why Dutch officials last week raided two mosques and several private homes: the mosques and their imams are suspected of laundering money through at least 10 charities.  Those charities, the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) believes, help fund other organizations that, in turn, provide financial support to terrorist groups in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Ukraine. According to a FIOD statement, financial transfers to the mosques and the charitable organizations come not only from the Netherlands, but from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

In addition, FIOD asserts, “One of the suspect foundations has received a transfer of hundreds of thousands of euros from a charitable organization from the Middle East which is connected to a charity that the US has placed on a list of sanctioned groups.”

The suspects, believed to be Ahmad Salam, his son Suhayb Salam, another (unnamed) son and a fourth party, are also said to have connections to Kuwait’s Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), which the U.S. Treasury Department designated in 2008 “for providing financial and material support to Al Qaida and Al Qaida affiliates and supporting terrorism.”

Both mosques, the Al-Fitra mosque in Utrecht and As-Sunnah mosque in Tilburg, have come under fire in the past for preaching Salafism, the extremist form of Islam that some European countries – including the Netherlands – have discussed banning. Last December, Utrecht’s mayor also expressed concern about the influence the Al Fitra mosque and Suhayb Salam, its imam, were having on members, and the mosque’s alleged efforts to turn Dutch Muslim children against Dutch society. And in 2013, both As-Sunnah and Ahmad Salam were investigated on charges of abusing and beating children during Quran lessons – accusations Salam strongly denied.

But there is this that can be said about what has changed because of 9/11: we know more about radical Islam. We know more about what is needed to defend ourselves against it, and to fight it where it rises. The raids and plots of these past few weeks confirm that point. The threat may be greater now, but we are far better prepared than we were on that bright September day to fight it.  And we will.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.