In revealing the funds of Hamas, Palestinian movement, the German newspaper Die Welt has published exclusive documents from Western security departments, stating that since the beginning of 2018, the Palestinian movement has had a secret international investment portfolio and assets estimated by Hamas itself at about 338 million dollars. However, its real value exceeds more than half a billion dollars.
According to the newspaper, the portfolio includes about 40 companies controlled internationally by Hamas. These companies are mainly active in the construction sector and located in several countries, but only a handful of Hamas officials know about these investments.
Die Welt has said that these documents were found by Western security departments on a Hamas’ computer, and they contain details of balance sheets from 2008 to early 2018, which Hamas allegedly used for internal financial control.
These documents, which are the most recent collected data to track movement’s budgets, have shown that investment proceeds totaling $ 49 million flowed together in Hamas with the intention of using it for military purposes.
In this context, “But rumors have been circulating for years about a large portfolio of Hamas-owned companies and properties,” Jonathan Schanzer, who previously worked as a cash flow analyst for terrorist organizations at the US Treasury.
“As for companies that generate continuous revenue, they will be very useful to a terrorist group as long as they are in able to operate openly and are not considered illegal,” he adds.
As for Matthew Levitt, who headed counter-terrorism and intelligence in a senior position at the US Treasury and now heads the Washington Institute’s counterterrorism program, does not want an assessment of the authenticity of the documents, but considers their content reasonable.
“It is no secret that Hamas has invested in foreign companies in throughout the region to support its activities, “Levitt tells Die Welt.
The documents have also revealed that Hamas has built its international corporate empire brick by brick over the past twenty years to be used as a cash reserve for times of need.
The newspaper has drawn attention to the fact that Hamas has increasingly shifted its business into Turkey, particularly in the past three years.
“Erdogan is deeply involved in Hamas’ activities in Turkey and meets regularly with Hamas leaders stationed there, “the newspaper says quoting Schanzer.
” I have received this from reliable sources who confirm that he is fully aware of all its activities, including those outside the political sphere, “he adds.
According to the analyzes obtained by Die Welt, the companies owned by Hamas show a normal face to the outside world, but in in reality they are controlled either by Hamas members whose connection with the movement is secret, or by local businessmen who are used as facades and often have good relations with the Palestinian movement.
In addition, and as the German newspaper has reported, aid money periodically flows to Hamas in Gaza Strip, including aids from Germany.
Qatar, Iran and Turkey have been generous donors to Hamas in the past, but also the United Nations, the European Union, Egypt, the United States, China, Germany and Great Britain have committed themselves of providing humanitarian aid for reconstruction this year. Nevertheless, what these countries and institutions fail to know is that “Hamas is a rich organization with great resources abroad.
It is currently rumored that the head of the investment portfolio is said to be Osama Abdel Karim, who lives in Lebanon, travels often in Turkey and works behind the scenes.
The member most involved in managing economic activities is Abdel Karim’s deputy, Hisham Younes Qafisha, who is a board member of several Hamas-controlled companies, including Turkey’s Trend Geo.
Furthermore, he is the director of the Hamas company in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, which specializes in constructing roads and bridges. Other Hamas actors also have multiple functions within the conglomerate.
According to Die Welt, one part of Hamas’s budget has baffled the experts at first. It is titled “The Economy” and has a total revenue of $49 million.
This part is divided into subcategories in which the term “economy” appears frequently with various combinations of Arabic letters, apparently, refer to the regional subdivisions of Hamas.
With 29 million, the highest amount of proceeds from the investment portfolio goes to Gaza itself, nine million to Hamas’ external activities. For example, in Lebanon, five million for the Jerusalem office, and at least four million for the Arabs in Israel.
According to Western security services, 30-40% of the funds are used to carry out military and terrorist operations.
Regarding transferring money to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and hiding the amounts from the tax authorities of the countries concerned, the movement also uses the same tools as the organized crime. The money is transferred with the money exchange offices’ help instead of the banking system.
“I expect countries, in which Hamas financial activities are stationed will take measures to dismantle them for fearing of sanctions might be imposed by Western countries, as well as increasing the risks associated with illegal financial activities within their borders,” Schanzer, an expert in the field of terrorism, says.