Zahar Jabarin, the unofficial financial manager of Hamas, handles a portfolio of companies that provides annual income to the terrorist organization Hamas. According to American estimates, he oversees a financial empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars
When Zahar Jabarin commanded a Hamas cell in the 1980s, he borrowed money from his mother to purchase weapons. Today, he oversees a financial empire that, according to American estimates, is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and finances the activities of Hamas against Israel.
The 55-year-old Hamas operative manages the organization’s system of financial connections, along with its main supporter Iran and manages the means by which Tehran transfers money to the Gaza Strip, US and Israeli officials say. He handles a portfolio of companies that provide Hamas with annual income and manages a network of private donors and businessmen who make investments for the Islamist organization.
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Jabarin’s influence on the financial situation of Hamas is so significant that former and current senior officials in the security systems of Israel and the United States believe that he is the one who enabled the organization to pay for the weapons and salaries of the terrorists who participated in the invasion of Israel on October 7.
“Jabarin played a huge role because he manages all of Hamas’ finances outside of Gaza,” said Uzi Shaya, a former senior Israeli security official who investigates illegal financing. “Jabarin is the CEO of Hamas.”
Jabarin was close to Saleh al-Aruri, a senior Hamas official who was killed on Tuesday in an explosion attributed to Israel. Both helped found the military arm of Hamas in Judea and Samaria and both were considered close to Iran. Arori wrote the introduction to the book that Jabarin published after he was released from prison.
“The days have not weakened his decisiveness,” Arori wrote about his colleague. “He continues, with the help of Allah, his journey, which is the way of jihad.”
The fear: even if Hamas is destroyed, its financial empire will remain intact
Israel fears that even if it destroys the military arm of Hamas in Gaza, the organization’s financial empire will be left intact. Jabarin over many years circumvented layers of Western sanctions by using financial networks in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and, more recently, Turkey, to set up companies and funnel money to Gaza, Israeli and American security officials said, as well as past and present Palestinian financial officials.
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The continued flow of money demonstrates the difficulty the United States and Israel face in trying to block Hamas’ financing methods. The United States imposed sanctions on Hamas officials and related companies more than twenty years ago, but is unable to disrupt the organization’s ability to raise funds.
Hamas is defined by Washington as a terrorist organization but has managed to maintain support in the Arab and Muslim world as a representative of the aspirations of the Palestinians.
Under Jabarin’s management, the financial office is in a building with dark windows in Istanbul, where he manages his holdings in companies, including shares in a real estate company issued on the Turkish stock exchange, according to the American sanctions against Hamas and companies associated with the organization.
“Raising funds for Hamas is an honor,” Jabarin said in an interview, but he denies any personal involvement in raising the money. “This is an accusation, not a fact.”
Today, he is part of the political wing of Hamas, not the Az ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the organization’s military wing, he said. Hamas has ties with many countries, such as Iran, Russia, Algeria, Turkey and others, Jabarin said.
“Israel is trying to mix apples and oranges,” he said. “Al-Qassam has its own connections, far from the political arm of Hamas.”
Turkey said that for it Hamas is not a terrorist organization and it distinguishes between the political and military arms of the organization. Ankara said that legitimate Turkish companies do not finance the military activities of Hamas and the Turkish financial system has not been abused.
The Turkish government did not respond to a request for comment.
Jabarin: “Raising funds for Hamas is an honor”
Jabarin cultivated ties with people close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who Israeli officials claim helped Hamas acquire weapons and obtain funding. Jabarin helped strengthen Lebanon’s Hamas ties with the Shiite group Hezbollah, and worked with money changers in Lebanon, according to U.S. officials who tracked the flow of money.
Iran has transferred tens of millions of dollars to Hamas in recent years through money exchangers using the Khawala system, and recently also through crypto-currencies, Wall Street previously reported. The money was moved through exchanges in Beirut, Istanbul and other business centers before reaching Gaza, according to US officials and past and present Palestinian officials.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh / Photo: Associated Press, ASSOCIATED PRESS Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh / Photo: Associated Press, ASSOCIATED PRESS
American officials say that all parts of the Hamas organization finance the military activity and attacks against Israel.
Like Yahya Sinwar, the current Hamas leader in Gaza, Jabarin was released from prison in 2011 as part of a deal to release over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier Gilad Shalit. While Sinwar rose through the ranks of Hamas Inc.
January 4, 2024 Published by The Globes.