ANALYSIS: Holy Land Documents Point to Hamas/Al Taqwa RelationshipBy
Buried in the avalanche of documents released by federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial are documents indicating a possible relationship between Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas entities in the U.S and the defunct Al Taqwa Bank, headed by Muslim Brotherhood figures Youssef Nada and Ghaleb Himmat. According to the documents, there were two sets of relevant transactions. The first transactions took place in September/October 1988 and consisted of $250,000 in five increments wired from Holy Land/North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) to an entity known as “K & A Overseas Trading.” NAIT is a the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organization that holds title to a large number of mosques in the U.S. The second set of transactions from March 1988-May 1991 consisted of approximately $1.35 million wired from K & A to a U.S. bank account in the name of Hamas political leader Musa Abu Marzook, then living in the U.S and his wife Nadia Elashi, a cousin of the Elashi brothers who were officers in the various organizations said to comprise the Hamas infrastructure in the U.S. including Holy Land.
Further documents reveal that K & A Overseas Trading was founded in June 1981 and registered to the ASAT Trust in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, the same trust company that registered many of the Youssef Nada and Ghaleb Himmat companies that were eventually subsumed within the Al Taqwa Bank and designated along with the bank as terrorist entities by the U.S government. The bank itself, based on principles of Islamic finance, had a shareholder list comprised of many Muslim Brotherhood figures including the family of global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi who also served as the bank’s Sharia advisor. At the time that Nada and Himmat were also designated in relation to financing Al Qaida, the ASAT Trust was associated with at least twenty companies, many related to Nada and Himmat but others involving individuals of Saudi and Egyptian nationality. The ASAT Trust itself was designated by the U.N in 2001 although the trust’s owner has denied any involvement with Al Taqwa beyond registering companies for Nada and HImmat. The principles of K & M Overseas Trading were identified in the documents as Saudi nationals Khairy H. Al-Agha and Saleh Kamel Jibreel and both K & M as well as Mr. Al-Agha were listed as part of the “Global Hamas Financing Mechanism” in additional court documents. The association of both Al Taqwa companies and Hamas-related structures with the same trust does not by itself imply a direct relationship but the link appears closer than has been identified to date. The Al-Taqwa bank was accused of financing Hamas in a 1997 Italian newspaper article, a charge which has been vehemently denied by Nada and one which has been the subject of an Italian defamation lawsuit. As discussed in an earlier post, Swiss and Italian prosecutions against Nada and Himmat in connection with terrorism financing have been recently dropped for lack of evidence but both remain on lists of terrorist entities.