The Israeli government has announced that it has banned 36 member organizations of the Union of Good, a worldwide coalition of charities led by Youssef Qaradawi, one of the most important leaders of the global Muslim Brotherhood. According to an Israeli governmental announcement :
Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently signed an order declaring 36 funds around the world, members of the “Union of Good” organization, to be banned associations in Israel since they are part of Hamas’s fundraising network, and both support and assist it. This order, the broadest and most comprehensive ever issued in Israel, joins a series of previous declarations against overseas charity organizations that belong to the “Union of Good” and Hamas, including Interpal in the UK, branches of the Al Aqsa Foundation in Europe, the Holy Land Foundation in the US, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) in Saudi Arabia, and additional foundations in Turkey, Qatar, South Africa, Austria, Jordan, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Sweden and other countries. This is a significant step against the global network which assists Hamas in raising funds. The order outlaws a great number of bodies that are active abroad and which are responsible for raising very large sums for Hamas activities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.The “Union of Good” is, in effect, a roof organization for foundations operated by Hamas around the world, especially in Europe and the Persian Gulf countries. It was outlawed by the Defense Minister in 2002 for its massive support of Hamas. The Union is composed of dozens of extremist Islamic foundations around the world. WAMY is especially active in the Persian Gulf countries and in Africa. The activity of Hamas foundations in Europe are led by Interpal in the UK, branches of the Al-Aqsa Foundation and the Committee for Welfare and Aid for the Palestinians (CBSP) in France. Dozens of foundations that are operated abroad by Hamas, most of which are members of the Union of Good, along with dozens of Hamas charitable associations active in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, form a well organized and coordinated support network, that includes Hamas’s fundraising arm abroad and the vital civilian and infrastructure networks in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. In this framework, tens of millions of dollars per annum are transferred from the overseas foundations to Hamas associations in the field. Recently, it has become clear that Union-affiliated foundations are trying to raise funds not only for Hamas charitable associations in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, but for the activities of the Hamas government as well. The Chairman of the Union of Good is the infamous Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Several steps have been taken so far, in Israel and abroad, against foundations, associations and activists connected to Hamas’s global fundraising network, including the banning of the Al-Aqsa Foundation in Germany and the Netherlands, the conviction of senior Islamic Movement officials over their links with the Union for Good and Hamas foundations, and the conviction of a Hamas-affiliated charity in A-Ram. There is no doubt that, in light of its scope, this significant declaration will require the Israeli and world banking and financial systems to prepare accordingly and act with caution in order to avoid criminal actions or civil lawsuits by victims of terrorism, such as that against the Arab Bank, in the US.
As previous posts have discussed, actions against Union of Good member organizations have been taken in many countries. The United States designated the Al-Aqsa Foundation and Interpal on May 2003 while Germany and the Netherlands acted to close the Al-Aqsa Foundations branches in those countries. In Denmark, the leaders of Al-Aqsa were charged but later acquitted of terrorism-financing charges. Other European countries such as the U.K., France, and Belgium have never acted against Union of Good members in those countries although the U.K. based Interpal has been the subject of several investigations by local charity regulators. The Union of Good itself has never have been banned or the subject of any other governmental actions, possibly because the organization does not appear to be formally registered anywhere although it maintains a website and solicits donations with a server located in the U.S., possibly in violation of U.S. terrorism-financing laws. The U.S. also has never acted against Qaradawi himself despite his support for suicide bombings and his role as the head of the Union of Good.