A terrorist money-laundering plot involving a cast of Hamas militants and their affiliates in two different countries had managed to get almost $200,000 into the heart of Israel’s Judea and Samaria region (also known as the West Bank). That is, until Israeli security forces recently busted the ring.
Hamas used couriers who went to Turkey to obtain funding “under the guise of business trips,” said a press release last week from the Israel Security Agency (ISA). Once in Turkey, the couriers met up with a Hamas command center militant who provided the couriers with tens of thousands of dollars. These monies were then used to purchase goods in Turkey, which in turn were shipped to the Israeli city of Hebron. There, the goods would be sold and “the funds given to Hamas militants in Hebron, minus fees,” according to the ISA.
Noted the press release, “The uncovering of the infrastructure indicates the unrelenting motivation of Hamas militants in Turkey and the Gaza Strip to the increase of Hamas terrorism in Judea and Samaria.” With the investigation complete, the IDF military prosecutor was set to file indictments on the guilty partners soon.
The ISA press release implied that the terrorist organization was putting at risk everyday Palestinians in the laundering efforts. “Hamas elements in the Gaza Strip and abroad recruit couriers from among residents of Judea and Samaria who are traveling abroad in order to transfer terrorist funds and deliver them to militants in the field,” said the ISA.
“More than once Hamas abroad has recruited family members of the organization’s militants in the field or has been assisted by merchants and businessmen who pay a significant personal and commercial price for this activity.”
The money-laundering scheme was only planning to get more grand in scale. The ISA press release noted plans to build a cement factory with “millions of dollars in Hamas financing that would serve as a front for money laundering.”
In a not-so-unexpected twist, two of the Hamas militants involved in the plot had been released as part of the prisoner swap for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, as the released prisoners returned to organized terrorism.
Despite the challenge in dealing with recurrent militants and their complicated designs, Israel sounded ready to address them now and in the future. Said the press release, “The ISA, IDF and Israel Police will continue to uncover and thwart terrorist operations directed by Hamas elements in the Gaza Strip and abroad.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, August 6, 2017)