Turkey role as a hub from which Hamas handles its financial matters

Overview

– New designations published by the US Department of the Treasury on September 10, 2019, consist of new names of companies and individuals. The US designations include figures responsible for the transfer of Hamas’s funds to the Gaza Strip and to terrorist networks in Judea and Samaria (as well as basic information on them).

– The American designations also include the name of a senior operative in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force (IRGC-QF), who is based in Lebanon and is engaged in the transfer of funds to Hamas. In addition, a list of terrorists published by the US Department of State includes new names of 12 terrorist operatives, including three senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operatives residing in the Gaza Strip.

In the designations published by the US Department of the Treasury, Turkey occupies a prominent place as a hub in which and from which terrorist organizations, including Hamas, run their financial activities. According to the American report, Hamas operatives and facilitators in Turkey are engaged in fundraising and money transfer to Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza Strip, funding terrorist networks in Judea and Samaria, and operating currency exchange and wire transfer companies in Turkey, which launder terror funds. The information published by the US Department of the Treasury clearly indicates that the main source for the transfer of financial support to Hamas through Turkey (and sometimes Lebanon) is Iran. The transfer of the funds to Hamas is carried out by the IRGC-QF. Hamas operatives and facilitators as well as currency exchange companies based in Turkey are involved in the transfer process. It should be recalled that money transfers from Turkey to Hamas’s terrorist networks in Judea and Samaria have been exposed time and again by the Israeli Security Agency (see Appendix B).

Hamas operatives and companies handled by Hamas in Turkey

– On September 10, 2019, the US Department of the Treasury announced the imposition of sanctions on 15 terrorist operatives and companies of currency exchange and wire transfer supporting the terrorist organizations. Alongside operatives and companies involved in the transfer of funds to ISIS, the list also includes operatives and companies based in Turkey, engaging in the transfer of funds to Hamas.

– Following is basic information on Hamas operatives in Turkey and companies engaged in the transfer of funds to Hamas, as appeared in the announcement of the US Department of the Treasury (website of the Department of the Treasury, September 10, 2019):

Zaher Jabarin:

– According to the American report, Turkey-based Jabarin is the head of Hamas’s Finance Office. In this capacity, he manages Hamas’s yearly budget amounting to tens of millions of dollars and is in charge of all Hamas’s income from various elements around the world. He also seeks to obtain additional sources of funding for Hamas. In his capacity as head of Hamas’s Finance Department, Jabarin focused on developing a financial network in Turkey that would allow Hamas to raise, invest, and launder money prior to transferring it (to the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria).

– Jabarin has served as the primary point of contact between Hamas and the IRGC-QF. Since 2017, his relations with them were enhanced based on Hamas’s operatives’ efforts to increase funding from Iran.

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Zaher Jabarin, leading Hamas figure in Turkey, who was released in the Shalit prisoner exchange deal (Sarahah News, Jordan, May 8, 2018)

Ismail Tash: Deputy CEO of Redin Exchange (see below) and in charge of Redin Exchange’s foreign relations. He is also the owner of SMART (see below). Since at least 2017, Tash has had ongoing contact with Hamas facilitators for transferring funds from Iran to Hamas. Through Ismail Tash, funds were transferred from the IRGC-QF especially to the Hamas military wing in the Gaza Strip. In January 2019, Tash served as the primary contact in many fund transfers carried out from Iran to Hamas and was highly involved in Hamas facilitators’ [financial] activity. (The ITIC’s note: Ismail Tash is the codename of Ismail Salman).

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Ismail Salman (Ismail Tash) / (khalas-Hamas.info, September 19, 2019)

– The list of the US Department of the Treasury also includes names of companies engaged in the transfer of funds to Hamas and some basic information on these companies:

Redin Exchange: A company based in Turkey, serving as a channel for transferring funds to Hamas. As of mid-2018, Redin Exchange was identified as a key part of the network used to transfer money to Hamas. With the assistance of this company, tens of millions of dollars were transferred to Hamas. Throughout 2017, Zaher Jabarin (mentioned above) was involved in the transfer of millions of dollars to Hamas with the assistance of Redin Exchange. Muhammad Sarur, who is employed in the company, was involved in March 2019 in the transfer of $10 million to Hamas’s operational arm the Ez al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

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Right: Offices of Redin Exchange in Istanbul. Left: Business cards of the company / (Khalas-Hamas Facebook page, September 12, 2019)

SMART: An import/export limited company owned by the abovementioned Ismail Tash. Possibly a front company associated with Redin Exchange. Both SMART and Redin Exchange share the same Istanbul-based address.

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Right: Offices of SMART in Istanbul. Left: Business cards of the company / (Khalas-Hamas Facebook page, September 12, 2019)

Transferring funds to Hamas through Lebanon

– In addition to Hamas operatives based in Turkey, the Department of the Treasury’s list also includes the name of Mohammad Sa’id Izadi. Mohammad Sa’id Izadi, who is based in Lebanon, is a senior operative in the IRGC-Qods Force. He is the chief of the Palestinian Office of the IRGC-QF Lebanon Corps and engages in the transfer of financial, material and technological support to Hamas. Thus, for example, in late 2016, he required a Hamas political member to get permission from three senior Hamas leaders to receive money directly from him. The Hamas political member stated that Mohammad Sa’id Izadi would be sending him $1 million in addition to Mohammad Sa’id Izadi’s regular allocation [of funds from Iran to Hamas]. The extra $1 million was indeed transferred to the Hamas political member.

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Sa’id Izadi, senior Qods Force official based in Lebanon (in the photo, standing behind Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani) (Sa’id Izadi’s Twitter account)

Senior Hamas and PIJ operatives on the list of the US Department of State

– The US Department of State’s list includes the names of 12 terrorist operatives designated as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” (SDGT). Among those 12 operatives, there were three senior operatives residing in the Gaza Strip. Following is basic information on them (according to the statement of the Department of State’s spokesperson, September 10, 2019):

– Marwan Eissa: Deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

– Mohammad al-Hindi: Deputy secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

– Baha Abu al-Ata: Member of the PIJ Supreme Military Council, commander of the northern battalion of the PIJ Quds Brigades in the Gaza Strip.

– For PIJ and Hamas’s reactions to the American statement, see Appendix A.

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