British banking giant HSBC shut down accounts held by Islamic Relief Worldwide (“IRW”) last month. IRW has long been suspected of funneling money to terrorist organizations.
According to the Center for Security Policy:
[IRW is] the largest international Islamic charity in the world, with a $240 million operating budget, nearly 300 employees, chapters in more than 12 countries with their own multi-billion dollar budgets, and operations in over 30 countries, all based in Birmingham, England.
. . .
In 1999, the IRW accepted a $50,000 check from Osama Bin Laden. In 2006, Israel arrested its project coordinator in its Gaza office, Iyaz Ali, for funneling money to Hamas. In November 2012, the British Bank UBS closed the IRW’s account and blocked its customers from donating to the charity. In June 2014, Israel officially declared the organization to be illegal and banned it from operating in Israel and the Palestinian territories due to its financing of Hamas. In November 2014, the United Arab Emirates declared the IRW to be a terrorist group.
Money Jihad adds:
[IRW] had a Gaza program coordinator who aided Hamas from 2005-06, received over £60K from an Al Qaeda front group from 2003-08, has leaders who are closely aligned with the global Muslim Brotherhood, and had programs staffed by Hamas personnel in the Palestinian territories as recently as this year. Supporters of IRW have noted that the UK’s charitable regulator has not confirmed the evidence against IRW; however, a 2013 audit found that the Charity Commission is understaffed, too passive in its investigations, and is generally unfit for its regulatory duties.
Despite these ties to terror, IRW continues to receive funding from the United States government. IRW received $100,000 in fiscal 2016. Islamic Relief also “receives millions of pounds from the [British] Department for International Development.”
HSBC’s decision could have significant implications. IRW is headquartered in England and if other British banks follow suit and reject its business, IRW could be squeezed to find ways to move assets. In addition, HSBC’s move could prompt other banks to look more closely at IRW accounts as well.
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