The Union of Good is a coalition of organisations that, according to the United States, was created to funnel funds and assistance to Hamas. For that reason, it has been designated as a supporter of terrorism, and proscribed in the United States.
Its constituent organisation in the United States was the Holy Land Foundation, whose officers were prosecuted and convicted of fundraising for Hamas in 2008. The documents disclosed during the trial indicated that the “charity”, along with various other organisations, were formed by Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood as a response to the prospect that Oslo might result in a settlement of the Israel Palestine conflict. Their intention was to ensure such an outcome did not happen.
Another member of the Union of Good, in Germany, is the IHH (Internationale Humanitaere Hilfsorganisation). Founded in Germany in 1992, it split to form the Turkish organisation which sent the Mavi Marmara to Gaza, and a separate German successor organisation. It has now been banned:
Germany has banned an organization it accuses of financing the Islamic militant group Hamas, the interior ministry said Monday.
The Frankfurt-based International Humanitarian Relief Organization (IHH) is believed to have collected money in mosques and to have sent about €6.6 million ($8.3 million) to relief organizations belonging to or supporting Hamas, which Germany considers a terrorist organization, the ministry said.
“Under the cover of humanitarian aid, the IHH has been supporting for a long time and with considerable financial resources so-called social groups which have to be seen as connected to Hamas,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.
“It exploits trusting donors’ willingness to help by using money that was given for a good purpose for supporting what is, in the final analysis, a terrorist organization,” de Maiziere said.
In the United Kingdom, the affiliate of the Union of Good was – until recently – Interpal. The Charity Commission were presented with evidence produced by Panorama that provided some support for the thesis that Interpal similarly channelled assistance to Hamas projects. You will gain a sense of quite how superficial the resultant investigation was by reading the Panorama account.
Nevertheless, the Charity Commission were clear that Interpal – like IHH and like the Holy Land Foundation – were part of the Union of Good. They ordered Interpal to sever its links with it.
Is Interpal a Hamas fundraising organisation, like these two other “charities”? We cannot say that it is. Why? Because, under British, German and European Union law, it is an offence to fundraise for Hamas. Interpal will sue anybody who suggests that this is what they have been doing.
Here is a case in point, from Friday’s Daily Express:
In an article published on this website on 27 December 2009 until 15 January 2010, entitled “Jet bomb ordered by 9/11 spiritual leader”, we incorrectly described the charity Interpal as “Hamas-supporting”.
As such the article would have wrongly been understood to mean that Interpal and its trustees provided support for Hamas notwithstanding that Hamas is deemed a terrorist organisation and thereby were aiding terrorism.
We accept that this is wrong and neither Interpal nor its Trustees support Hamas.
We wish to apologise to Interpal and its Trustees and are happy to set the record straight.
The truth about the Hamas-funding activities of the two other Union of Good “charities” only came out after police raids. In the case of the Holy Land Foundation trial, officers dug up the gardens of officials, recovered video and computer evidence, and took everything they could find away in black bin bags, which they then spent years analysing. This is what the German authorities did:
German authorities have been investigating the International Humanitarian Relief Organization in Frankfurt for a year, the ministry said. On Monday, authorities raided 29 places throughout the country and confiscated files, data, and real estate belonging to the organization.
Of course, nothing like that has happened in relation to Interpal. All we’ve had is a one hour TV special, made by the BBC, followed by a refusal by the Charity Commission to investigate those claims in any detail, with the very limited investigatory powers at their disposal:
A Commission spokeswoman has since made clear that they did not actually investigate Panorama’s material because the Commission had not seen its role as being to “prove or disprove” Panorama’s allegations: “The purpose of the inquiry was not to look at all the allegations made in the programme” she said.
Instead, as she explained to the Guardian: “The purpose of the inquiry was not to look at all the allegations made in the programme, but to look at the material supplied by the BBC to identify the specific regulatory issues for the commission. We looked at these specific issues and set out what our findings were and what, if any, action was required from the charity in response.”
Interpal Chairman Ibrahim Hewitt has claimed that Interpal has been “vindicated” by the Commission: “… after a most rigorous process, these accusations have been refuted by the inquiry.”
However, the Commission’s clarification that its Inquiry was “not to look at” Panorama’s allegations but to “identify specific regulatory issues” means that the Interpal Chairman has misrepresented the position and that the nub of the issue raised by Panorama remains unresolved, and effectively unregulated, despite a probe lasting over two years.
Indeed, the Commission, as regulator, appears to have absolved itself from the act of regulating, and seems content to pass that evidentiary responsibility completely to the regulated body, Interpal.
Therefore, it is unsafe for us form any conclusions at to why Majdi Aqil, a former (and possibly present) Hamas member, is working for Interpal. Similarly, we have no explanation at all for why he was carrying bags stuffed with money into the Gaza Strip:
That is because the United Kingdom is not Germany. We do things differently here.