According to a senior official at the Ministry of Defense, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the like have been running crowdfunding campaigns under the guise of donating to humanitarian organizations and refugees in Gaza.
Under the keyword “with Gaza” 97 campaigns were located which were supported by 204.5 thousand people who raised 17.8 million dollars. He also added that the traditional Hawala system has also gained momentum.
“There is no ceasefire in the financing of terrorism, and crowd-funded campaigns to support terrorism, under the guise of donating to humanitarian organizations and refugees in Gaza, have raised their heads in the war.” So said today (Tuesday) the head of the operational countermeasures division at the National Headquarters for Economic Combating Terrorism (HMT) in the Ministry of Defense, in a webinar held on the fight against terrorist financing in the “Iron Swords” war. According to him: “Tens of millions of dollars were raised in this way by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and their ilk since the beginning of the war.”
“This crowdfunding campaign is fast and accessible and it’s easy to pick it up on social networks,” the official added in the discussion that dealt with various methods developed by terrorist organizations to bypass the global banking and financial system, which is under constant surveillance and supervision by anti-money laundering authorities around the world, in order to get their hands on the currency they need He has the most to finance the activity – US dollars.
Mass recruitment info for terrorist organizations
An example of a crowdfunding campaign
“It is very difficult to incriminate these campaigns, and to prove that it is money that goes to terrorism and not medicine,” says the official. “When we identify a campaign, it will be examined to see if it is possible to unravel it and understand who is behind it, to find out if it is a non-profit organization or an organization that has been declared internationally as supporting terrorism, and then we can try to incriminate it and stop the transfer of funds.”
In the online discussion, Gil Barak – Head of the Strategy, Analytics and Intelligence Division at the Authority for the Prohibition of Money Laundering and Terrorism – presented example campaigns. For example, under the keyword “with Gaza”, according to a presentation presented by Barak, about 97 campaigns were located in which 204.5 thousand people supported and through which 17,851,569 US dollars were raised. The common camp for all of them is that they claim that the funds are intended for “humanitarian needs of the Palestinians in Gaza”.
The examination of the campaigns is done behind the scenes with the help of the Israeli intelligence agencies – the Shin Bet, Aman and Mossad – with the help of foreign bodies. “We check where the money goes, who the body is, where it operates, what means of payment it offers and more,” he said. “Campaigns that we were able to incriminate, when we found out that there was a declared fund with ties to Hamas, we worked to block it. The Israel Defense Forces or the Israel Police, for example, turn to enforcement bodies in the world on the basis of treaties and cooperation to block them. Since the beginning of the war, we have blocked dozens of means used to transfer money – rechargeable cards, bank accounts or digital wallets.
Another method to act to block the campaigns is by blacking them out in public. “We are constantly updating our website with more and more campaigns that we identify and criminalize,” he said. “The goal is that financial entities in the world that receive the information from us – and this is actually what they are looking for – will drop it. We also reveal who the website or country that hosts the campaign is, so that there is a clear blacklist and they will be taken down.”
“There is an increase in crowdfunding because the war is covered all over the world and this brings exposure and more people’s desire to donate, and they increased donations that way,” said Dan, an expert in counter-terrorism from a security body whose full name, as well as the body he works for, has not been revealed. “We have suggested to many countries to say: We don’t transfer money. Buy what is needed with the money, and that it be passed as a product. This way we ensure that it is money for humanitarian aid, not for terrorism.”
“Havalot – banking that goes back in time”
Another method of financing terrorism that is currently flourishing in the war is the traditional channel: the Havalot. This is a method often used by foreign workers around the world who want to transfer money to their families, without the need to transfer the funds through official and supervised banks or financial institutions. This is essentially a trust method, in which a money exchanger in country A asks a money exchanger in country B to pay on behalf of a family member, when in the future the exchangers offset each other.
Info about the Hawala method for transferring funds
“There are a lot of foreign workers – Syrians, Palestinians, Lebanese – who work in the Western world and work according to the Hawala system,” says Dan. “They want to transfer the money to the family. And this is where the Hawala comes in. Innocent workers who earned money, transferred it through an offsetting mechanism. The Hawala are used in many places in the world and are not supervised. It’s literally going back in time in banking.”
Dan gives an example of a case that was exposed. “Syrian workers wanted to transfer money to their families in Syria. The Syrian government took the dollars that were intended for the families, and gave the families Syrian pounds instead. That way he has dollars that he can use for terrorism.”
“Only dollars in ‘Al-Qard Al-Hasan'”
The internet discussion did not pass over the northern front either – the terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon. “You need to understand the extent of the risk and its multiples in relation to the Hezbollah budget,” Dan said. “Hezbollah’s budget is a billion dollars a year. Now how will we deal when it is a billion dollars. It will be more operatives, more missiles, more support for the civilian population. Then think about 5 billion dollars. That’s why the preoccupation with damaging this budget is dramatic.”
According to Dan, despite the much involvement in transfers and the relatively new technological methods of money transfers such as crypto and digital wallets, in the end this is not the core. In terrorist financing, cash is king, with the US dollar being the almost exclusive currency that everyone wants to use.
Mass recruitment info for terrorist organizations
A campaign in the colors of the Palestinian flag
“Iran, which transfers funds in cash, is the majority of the support for terrorism, and is a country that finances terrorism in an industrial way in the Middle East,” says Dan. And to give them dollars, it’s a whole mechanism of exchangers that supports it.
The cash mechanisms through exchangers and non-banking organizations, says Dan, have a significant impact on the economy.
November 28, 2023 Published by The Calcalist News Israel.