South African media is reporting that the local Al-Aqsa Foundation has had its banking facilities with two South African banks suspended. According to a Daily Maverick report:
18 JANUARY 2013 03:05 (SOUTH AFRICA) The Al-Aqsa Foundation, a charity registered with the Department of Social Development focusing on providing aid to Palestinians has recently had its banking facilities with two South African banks suspended. The Foundation is suspected by the US government to be raising funds for Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement and governing authority of the Gaza strip. In December, First National Bank (FNB) issued Al-Aqsa Foundation with three months’ notice before completely shutting its account. In a statement, the CEO of FNB Commercial Banking Michael Vacy-Lyle explained, ‘It has come to the bank’s attention that the foundation is expressly listed by the US Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and other international sanctions lists.’ The move received widespread condemnation from the South African Muslim community, with at least one prominent cleric calling for a boycott of FNB. The Media Review Network, an organisation focused on the representation of Islam and Muslims in the media, deplored FNB heeding to the dictate of ‘foreign’ agents, despite the Foundation receiving a clean audit from the Department of Social Services. FNB, however, has sought to dismiss allegations that it has been bullied by the US government into closing the account. The listing is said to have come to the attention of the bank over a year ago during routine internal governance processes, and closing the account is an act of expedience that allows FNB to keep up its relationships with other financial institutions in the US. Vacy-Lyle said, ‘The international financial community imposes stringent obligations in respect of the maintenance of banking relationships with entities listed by OFAC and the decision by FNB to terminate its relationship with the foundation is a consequence of this fact alone.’ Annette Hübschle, a researcher focused on the organised crime-terror nexus, said the move to close the Foundation’s account in light of the US listing was revealing of who holds the greatest power in global politics. Last week it was revealed that another South African bank, Al-Baraka bank, had also frozen an account of the Al-Aqsa Foundation – this account had been opened after FNB had indicated it would be terminating the Foundation’s account.
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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.
A memo purporting to be a 1998 briefing document prepared for the South African President Thabo Mbeki has long been posted on the Internet and identifies an individual called Wahdan Abu Ahmed KHUNFUR who it says was a Trustee of the Al Aqsa Foundation in South Africa as well as a Hamas contact as well as the former Director-General of Al-Jazeera. The memo appears to be genuine, containing substantial detail and matching the time that Khanfar was known to be living in South Africa, but cannot be verified as genuine or that these are the same individuals. It should be noted, however, that a Jordanian newspaper reported recently that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave Qatari officials a file demonstrating Khanfar’s Hamas/Brotherhood connections. Past posts have discussed the Muslim Brotherhood and possible Hamas background of Wadah Khanfar (aka Waddah Khanfar).