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August 1997 THE HAMAS - BACKGROUND TALKING POINTS 1. The HAMAS - like its parent organization - the "Muslim Brotherhood" aims to create a religious-civic infrastructure in the following areas: aid to the poor, education, health, society and religion. Building this foundation has been the organization's goal since its founding in the territories, and this network of institutions is the source of the movement's strength, and provides the ability to recruit operatives, including suicide attackers. 2. Alongside its overt civic activity, HAMAS engages in covert terrorist activity. 3. HAMAS raises funds through a complex network of organizations. While the majority of these outwardly claim to support religious or civic activities, this charity ("zakath") is also awarded to operatives, the families of terrorists killed, and the terrorism apparatus. In effect, there is no distinction between HAMAS' civic and terrorist activities. 4. HAMAS' Islamic activity is conducted on several levels - according to a recently distributed manifesto. The movement calls increased efforts in two of these - "public activity" and "jihad" (i.e: terrorist attacks). 5. Since the implementation of Palestinian autonomy, HAMAS' civic activity has increased with the following goals in mind: a. short-term goal: to maintain its power and to hold its own opposite the institutions of the PA. b. long-term goal: to expand its power-base and to present a possible alternative to the PA government as part of its larger struggle against it and the peace process. 6. From the start, the PA has regarded HAMAS' civic infrastructure as a threat which could erode its own authority and influence. Accordingly, it has created systems of supervision, control and checks on HAMAS' civic institutions. 7. In trying to limit the organization's activity following the February-March 1996 attacks, the PA took several decisive steps against HAMAS's financial base. They shut down several important charitable organizations and confiscated documents, equipment and funds from others. Heads of charitable associations were arrested. 8. These measures, alongside the Israeli crackdown on the Islamic movement in Um al-Fahm and Nazareth, significantly crippled HAMAS' activity and the regular flow of its funds. 9. With the opening of new channels for the transfer of funds and an easing of the PA's restricitive measures from the middle of 1996 onwards, HAMAS' charitable associations renewed their activity and funds were transferred to them in greater amounts. 10. The PA's activity vis-a-vis HAMAS has followed a pattern of placing HAMAS activities under an official Palestinian rubric, subordinating them to the Palestinian Interior Ministry under the "Charitable Associations" Law (not yet ratified.) 11. HAMAS' community aid activity takes place through charity and welfare associations identified with the movement, whether founded by HAMAS or earlier by the "Muslim Brotherhood", or taken over by HAMAS from within. Today this activity is organized under the "Islamic National Salvation Party" which operates with the PA's permission. 12. HAMAS maintains charitable bodies in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip. 13. HAMAS community aid focuses primarily on providing assistance to the families of terrorists killed or injured, as well as prisoners and their families. Such aid is often described as "aid to orphans and the needy." 14. It is believed that some of the charitable funds have been diverted to financing terrorist attacks. 15. HAMAS' other activities include: an extensive education network, massive activity in institutions of higher education, distribution of basic foodstuffs "for the holidays," youth camps, sports, care for the elderly, scholarships, sponsorship of light industry, and religious services under HAMAS sponsorship. The mosques are used to disseminate HAMAS positions, recruit operatives and conceal weapons, etc. 16. Sources of funding - Estimating the amount of money reaching HAMAS is a complex task, but a modest estimate is several tens of millions of dollars per year. 17. Sources of funding abroad: a. Official sources: the government of Iran contributes approximately 3 million dollars per year for all HAMAS activities. b. There are four central HAMAS charity funds in the West: Great Britain: the Palestine Relief and Development Fund - "Interpal"; U.S.A. - the "Holy Land Foundation"; Germany - the "Al Aqsa Foundation" - with branches in Belgium and Holland; France - "Comite de Bienfaisance et Solidarite avec la Palestine". 18. Funding from other Islamic organizations: (not HAMAS) a. Non-governmental charitable organizations in the Gulf states - Generally, they collect charity for needy Muslims throughout the world, and as part of this effort they support HAMAS and its social and welfare institutions. b. Islamic aid agencies in the West - these rely on the Islamic community in the West, numbering about 15 million. Among these: Muslim Aid, and the Islamic Relief Agency - ISRA. c. The Muslim Brotherhood - In the late 80s the Brotherhood established the "Muslim Aid Committee to the Palestinian Nation" in order to aid HAMAS. 19. Independent sources of funding in the territories: a. A small portion of HAMAS funds come from a limited number of profitable economic projects: sewing and weaving centers, cattle farms, and symbolic payment for services. b. Fund-raising campaigns throughout the territories - heightnened supervision by the U.S. and Egypt of fund-raising in the Gulf states has encouraged this internal independent fund-raising method. 20. Israel - a. The Islamic Movement in Israel has served as a channel for transferring money from foundations in the West. Since Israel closed two central bodies - the Committee for Aid to Orphans and Prisoners (November 1996) and Islamic Aid (in 1995) - use of this channel has decreased considerably. b. Most of these foundations have representatives in the territories and operate under an umbrella organization established in 1995. 21. The battle against financing - Terrorist attacks and the uncovering of HAMAS' financial apparatus have led Western intelligence operatives to begin monitoring its funding activity. Several countries (principally the U.S. and Great Britain) have announced their intent to frustrate HAMAS fundraising efforts. a. U.S. - a legislation package intended to hinder fundraising for terrorist organizations within U.S. territory. The governement has yet to exercise its power to act against these organizations. b. Britain - Records of the "Interpal" relief foundation were examined, but "no concrete information was found linking it to terror organizations." It must be noted that the only material examined was that which the foundation itself submitted to the authorities. c. Israel - illegalization: In May of this year, the Minister of Defense declared the four major foundations operating in the West (17-b above) to be illegal associations, as part of the HAMAS activity outlawed in Israel. The movement's organ, "Falestin al-Muslima", was outlawed as well. Implication of declaring an organization illegal: - The basis for this authority is Regulation 84 in the Defense Regulations. - Any property held by an illegal association must be reported within 48 hours. A military commmander has the authority to confiscate such property. The property may be 'frozen' by a third party. The authorities have extensive rights to conduct a search where property of an illegal association is suspected. - It is illegal to contact, provide services to, aid or in any way take part in the activities of such an organization (as detailed in Regulation 85). - Funds belonging to such an organization may be confiscated, and anyone receiving these funds or acting in the name of the organization may be arrested. . ===================================================================== Information Division, Israel Foreign Ministry - Jerusalem Mail all Queries to [email protected] URL: http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il gopher://israel-info.gov.il =====================================================================