The Jamestown Foundation has issued a short report discussing some of the issues involved with recent acquittals in Sweden and Denmark of officers of the Al-Aqsa Foundation on charges of funding Hamas. According to the report summary:
As the international community gears up for reconstruction efforts in Gaza, a number of European Union members are grappling with the question of how to deal with the alleged funding of Hamas through a number of charities. A Swedish court’s February 17 acquittal of Khalid al-Yousef on charges of terrorist financing and violating EU sanctions is the latest in a series of actions attempting to target al-Aqsa Foundation, believed by many security services to be a conduit for funds from Europe to Hamas. Al-Yousef’s acquittal echoes a 2008 decision in Denmark in which two men charged with terrorist financing through al-Aqsa were narrowly acquitted by a divided court. In largely similar cases, EU members have taken a wide variety of legal and administrative actions against organizations carrying the al-Aqsa name. In Sweden and Denmark, lengthy criminal investigations followed by criminal prosecutions have both ended in acquittals. This is in part because of the high evidentiary standards applied by the courts, but mainly because much of the evidence provided by Israel was discarded. The reliance on evidence from Israel and lower evidentiary thresholds were important factors in several German and Dutch court decisions to uphold administrative bans on al-Aqsa organizations in those countries. By contrast, the Belgian government has not attempted to shutter the organization’s offices in Verviers and Brussels. Court cases over the legality of bans on al-Aqsa and the organization’s inclusion on the EU terror list have highlighted a number of the security challenges and humanitarian tradeoffs inherent in prosecuting suspected cases of terrorist financing. The Swedish and Danish trials showcase the most recent developments
The Union of Good is a coalition of Islamic charities that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities. It is headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, and most of the trustees and member organizations are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood. The Union of Good was banned by Israel in 2002 and was recently designated a terrorist entity by the United States, although neither Youssef Qaradawi nor any of the Trustees were similarly designated. Despite the fact that action has been taken against some of its member organizations in Europe, many of its other European member organizations continue to operate. Further, the Union of Good itself does not appear to be under investigation in Europe.
All branches of Al-Aqsa are designated by the U.S. as terrorist entities and the Union of Good was also recently designated.