The UK Charity Commission, which has twice investigated and twice cleared Interpal of involvement in funding terror is caught with its pants around its knees by this expose, and has now gone public with an admission that it will need to review its earlier decisions. In the words of the BBC's own press statement of 30th July 2006:
The Charity Commission admits that a recent investigation, which cleared a leading British Islamic charity of having links to the fundamentalist group Hamas, "wasn't in depth".(You may want to read just to understand what was not "in depth" about their investigation. )
What would prompt them to make such an embarrassing about-face? Perhaps the extensive ties between Hamas and Interpal revealed by the programme, as well as exchanges like this:
JOHN WARE (Panorama): You've taken Interpal's word for it, without going to the West Bank, that that kind of thing isn't going on, haven't you?The BBC's own press office has issued a pointed summary of what the Panorama programme uncovered. It makes compelling reading. Investigative journalism of this kind is why Brits pay their television license fee.
KENNETH DIBBLE Charity Commission: Well, I don't know whether we asked them specifically in terms, because I'm not aware that that sort of concern has actually been raised with us.
WARE: You are kidding! Sorry, surely you have, you've asked them, in a place like the West Bank you surely have said what else is going on in these organisations?
DIBBLE: I do not believe we have considered that, in terms.
WARE: Well that is exactly the point, and can you tell me why you haven't considered that, because it's pretty fundamental, isn't it?
DIBBLE: Well it is, but, as I said, it's only in recent times that the vulnerability of charities for use for these purposes has actually been recognised. But I think it's an issue that you are now raising now and, if I may say so, is quite a pertinent issue to raise.
Here's what Wikipedia says about Interpal:
Interpal, the informal name for the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund is a non-political, non-profit making British charity set up in 1994 to alleviate problems faced by Palestinians and focuses solely on the provision of relief and development aid to the poor and needy of Palestine the world over, primarily in the Israeli-occupied territories, Lebanon, Jordan and in Palestine. It is chaired by Mr. Ibrahim Hewitt, the other trustees being Mr. G Faour (also a trustee of the Palestinian Return Centre), Dr. E Mustafa, Mr. I Y Ginwala MBE, Mr. M Rafiq Vindhani and Dr. S Husain. Interpal is currently the largest British charity supplying humanitarian aid to Palestine and is "one of the largest Muslim-led charities in Europe". It is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales under the number 1040094.Our interest in this story is personal. Almost five years ago to the day, on 9th August 2001, Hamas murdered our fifteen year-old daughter.