UK media is reporting that Islamic Relief UK is the latest group to have its accounts closed by the HSBC bank over alleged fears of terrorist financing. According to an International Business Times report:
HSBC has snapped banking ties with UK’s largest government-funded Muslim charity, Islamic Relief, over alleged fears of terror funding. Although the bank has halted services for other Muslim groups in the past, the affected charity is one of the most high-profile ones with operations in over 40 countries.
Islamic Relief receives millions of pounds from the Department for International Development. It expressed surprise at the bank’s decision, but said that other partners are helping it maintain aid supplies in countries where it operates. The charity added that no other bank or financial institution had withdrawn facilities.
The charity said the following on its website:
‘We were in discussions with HSBC during 2014 through which we learned that the bank felt it would be difficult to continue its banking relationship with us due to the nature of our work. At this point they invited us to end the relationship – which they did themselves at the end of the year when we declined.
We were and remain extremely surprised at HSBC’s stance. Our mission is to alleviate poverty and suffering where most needed, and that means we are committed to operating in complex conflicts where proscribed organisations are sometimes active. It appears that this is deemed a risk too far by HSBC but we continue to be trusted to deliver aid in such places by governments and by other financial institutions, and lives depend on our being able to do so.
Not supporting a civilian population who happen to live in a war zone is inhumane and unjustifiable. We believe that the breadth and vagueness of counter-terrorism regulation has created a fog of uncertainty for both banks and charities that governments need to do more to help us navigate our way through’
According to The Sunday Times, HSBC may have ended ties with Islamic Relief because of the charity’s work in the Middle East, including projects in Gaza and Syria. Earlier, the Israeli government had banned Islamic Relief from the West Bank in 2014. It accused the organisation of laundering money to Hamas, a claim categorically denied by the charity.
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In July 2014, the GMBDW was the first to report on HSBC account closings when we reported that UK Muslim Brotherhood leader Anas Altikriti had said that HSBC Bank had closed his accounts and the accounts of all of his family. In July 2015, we reported that a UK journalist and supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood has complained that the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch (GMBDW) is being used as a source by a Reuters database to screen banking clients for links to terrorism.
Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) is registered as a charity in the UK where until recently its chairman of the board was Ibrahim El-Zayat, a leader in both the European and the German Muslim Brotherhood. Islamic Relief Worldwide is also registered as a company in the UK where records indicate that Mr. El-Zayat continues to serve as a director (he is also a a trustee of the UK charity branch of Islamic Relief.) Ahmed Al-Rawi, the former head of the Federation of islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) and former President of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) was a past director of the company and both FIOE and the MAB are part of the U.K. and European Muslim Brotherhood. Other past IRW company directors include Isam El-bashir, a Sudanese figure close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Essam El-Haddad, a longtime Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member a former adviser to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Islamic Relief was one of the founding members of the Union of Good, a “coalition of Islamic charities that provides financial support to both the Hamas ‘social’ infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities.” The Union of Good is headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi and most of the trustees and member organizations are associated with the Global Muslim Brotherhood.In May 2006, the Israeli government announced the arrest of an IRW worker for activities related to supporting Hamas and said that IRW activities in the Palestinian territories ” are carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives.” In June 2014 , the GMBDW reported that the Israeli Defense Minister had banned Islamic Relief Worldwide from operating in Israel saying that it is involved in sending cash to Hamas.