Britain's Largest Bank Cuts Off Islamic Relief UK Over Alleged Terror Connections

by JOHN ROSSOMANDO January 7, 2016

Britain's largest bank, HSBC, no longer will do business with the charity Islamic Relief UK due to worries over its alleged terror ties. The Sunday Times of London reportedlast weekend that the banking giant decided to cut off the Muslim charity a year ago, but the move went unreported until now.

Islamic Relief UK receives millions of pounds from the British Department of International Development, the Times reported. Israel banned the charity from the West Bank in 2014, accusing it of laundering money for Hamas. The Israel Ministry for Foreign Affairs designated the group's parent organization, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), as a terrorist front in 2006.

"The IRW provides support and assistance to Hamas's infrastructure. The IRW's activities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip are carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives. The intensive activities of these associations are designed to further Hamas's ideology among the Palestinian population," Israel's Ministry for Foreign Affairs wrote.

IRW also received a $50,000 check from Osama bin Laden in 1999 and received £60,000 - approximately $115,000 - from an Al-Qaida front group between 2003 and 2008.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) blacklisted Islamic Relief in November 2014.

This is not the first time the bank has targeted an Islamic institution accused of terror ties. HSBC ended its relationship with the Cordoba Foundation - another group listed by the UAE as a terrorist group - headed by British Muslim Brotherhood leader Anas Altakriti in July 2014.

The Guardian reported that UAE threatened to stop cooperating with the U.K. if it did not take action against the Muslim Brotherhood, which it labels a terrorist organization.

The Swiss bank UBS likewise closed Islamic Relief's accounts and barred donations in 2012 over similar concerns.

Islamic Relief UK denies the terror claims.

"We were and remain extremely surprised at HSBC's stance," it said in a statement. "... Not supporting a civilian population who happen to live in a warzone is inhumane and unjustifiable. We believe the breadth and vagueness of counter-terrorism regulation has created a fog of uncertainty for both banks and charities that governments need to help us navigate our way through."

HSBC itself has faced scrutiny for abetting money-laundering activities. U.S. Treasury officials ordered the bank to end its involvement with Iranian financial institutions in 2012. That same month, Treasury officials ordered the bank to pay $1.9 billion in fines because it allowed Mexican drug cartels to circulate hundreds of millions of dollars through accounts in the U.S.

John Rossomando writes for The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT)- a non-profit research group founded by Steven Emerson in 1995. It is recognized as the world's most comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist groups.

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