|Interpal's Essam Yousef feted by arch-terrorist head of Hamas,|
Ismail Haniyeh, in June 2011 [Image Source]
Exactly six years and one week ago, we wrote here about a British charity called Interpal [see "31-Dec-06: Terror Sinks Roots in Even the Best of Neighbourhoods"] following an expose broadcast on the BBC investigative program, Panorama.
We pointed out at the time that Interpal (full name: Palestinian Relief and Development Fund) had been certified by the US authorities as a terrorist front organization - see this 2003 US Treasury announcement declaring several organizations including Interpal “Specially Designated Global TerroristBut we noted that Interpal was happily continuing to do business in the UK, riding above the storm. We referred to a transcript of the Panorama programme (here) and to an online streaming-video version of the entire one-hour program headlined "Faith, hate and charity".
That December 2006 posting of ours was triggered by a then-fresh BBC report that
...the Charity Commission has launched a formal investigation into the London-based Palestinian charity Interpal. The commission says there are "concerns about the potential for indirect and inappropriate links" between Interpal "and organisations or individuals who appear to support the militant or terrorist activities of Hamas".This change of stance by the UK's Charities Commission came
"after years of the British authorities refuting claims from Israeli and American sources about those "inappropriate links", while downplaying strong documentary evidence that Interpal plays a central role in the global jihadist enterprise. An earlier Charities Commission investigation stubbornly provided Interpal with a clean bill of health." [more]A lengthy article appears today on the Gatestone Institute's website under the title "Supporting our Own Demise: Part 1 - Terror Finance". The author, Samuel Westrop of the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy, revisits the issue of Interpal's astonishing resilience and asks
Successive British Governments continue to tolerate the existence of large charities that encourage and provide for Islamist terror groups. By failing to separate British Muslims from the Islamist charities that exploit them, we flatter and legitimize supporters of terrorism as humanitarians and community leaders. In the US, the charity Interpal is a proscribed organization: when you help terror groups build homes, you are also helping terror groups build bombs. In the UK, however, Interpal is a leading charity that provides support for terror groups. What is Interpal, and why isn't the British government shutting it down? [more]Westrop's article reviews what happened with the Charity Commission's investigation into Interpal's activities. It eventually concluded [quote] that the Interpal trustees had to end their association with a group called the Union for Good (in Arabic: Itilaf Al Khayr), including ceasing to provide it with any facilities or other resources.
Dr Essam Mustafa, known also as Essam Yusuf, is Interpal's Managing Trustee and Vice Chairman. The Westrop article says that Mustafa/Yusuf
publicly announced that he had severed all his ties with the UoG in 2009 [and] later that year, the Charity Commission informed Interpal that it was satisfied "that the trustees had complied" with the instructions to disassociate from the UoG [but others] have claimed that Yusuf and Interpal continue to play a pivotal role within the UoG. In 2011, Al-Quds al-Arabi, an Arabic newspaper published in London, described Essam Yusuf [source] as the person in charge of the Union of Good in Europe... Yusuf has granted interviews to a number of UoG websites. In one such interview, Yusuf both announced his resignation and his future plans for the UoG. Upon examining the text of this interview in English, some critics might well think that Yusuf's resignation was fraudulent.Westrop notes that just five months ago, Mustafa/Yusuf joined with key Hamas leaders [source] in paying courtesy calls on the families of Hamas 'martyrs' while visiting Hamas-controlled Gaza. Reflecting on the implications in light of the UK government's report, he writes
It seems clear that the Charity Commission has deliberately avoided properly examining the question of the trustees' personal meetings with Hamas leaders. This is despite the Commission's guidelines on trustee responsibilities, which instruct that trustees must "avoid undertaking activities that might place the charity's endowment, funds, assets or reputation at undue risk."[Source] Looking at Essam Yusuf, many rational observers might suggest that accompanying the leaders of a terrorist organization to celebrate the martyrdom of terrorist operatives is cause for concern, and would certainly place the charity's reputation "at undue risk".
However, the political cover of legitimacy provided by leading politicians... diminishes any incentive for the Charity Commission to investigate charities such as Interpal further. The pusillanimity of the political classes undermines the inquiries into terror finance and sanitizes charities' activities in a manner that will ensure a continuing lack of vigilance and accountability, and that encourages all those other organizations which - as with Interpal - are complicit with the financing of terrorism.
The disingenuous denials of both Government and the charities that support terror groups can only endure with the connivance of both. If both government and charities continue in the tacit collusion of burying the reality of terror finance, Interpal will continue its harmful work unchallenged. In return, the political classes convince themselves they remain appealing to a section of the population that is being deceived and exploited by champions of terrorism dressed as humanitarians and community leaders - violent voices of a hijacked group.
If everything we knew about this subject were reduced to rules and regulations, it would make unremarkable but fairly unambiguous reading: see the listing here.
The reality, unfortunately, has far more to do with disturbing maneuverings of the sort that Sam Westrop and the people from Panorama describe than with the dry letter of the law. Bottom line: the terrorists keep doing what ongoing funding [as we wrote in the Wall Street Journal Europe] allows them to do. And the people facilitating this get off blame-free.