HAMAS receives funding from Palestinian expatriates, Iran, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states. Some fundraising and propaganda activities take place in Western Europe and North America. As of 2003 US intelligence sources estimated that the militant Palestinian group Hamas had an annual budget of 50 million dollars, raising much of that money through its reputation as a charity. Despite its notoriety worldwide as a terrorist group, many Palestinians see Hamas as a charitable organization that builds schools and hospitals and steps in where the Palestinian Authority has failed.
The Hamas organization is also operating in European countries and the United States, mainly among the Palestinian population, by conducting fundraising (through charity associations and foundations - Dawa activity). Some of the funds received are channeled to finance terrorist activity in Israel, and other monies are intended for the funding of Hamas civilian activity. The United States is seeking to bankrupt Hamas by undermining its reputation as a charity.
Syria serves as an important base of the Hamas organization, from a political, information and operational perspective. Officials in the Hamas leadership reside in Syria and conduct their operations from there. This applies particularly to the so-called political office of the Hamas, headed by Khaled Mashal. They are in regular daily contact with the Hamas leadership in the territories, headed by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and with the terrorist operatives of Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam (Hamas battalions) in the territories.
The Syrian Government enables the Hamas leadership and its terrorist commanders to conduct their various activities on its soil, including the formulation of the Hamas operational strategy, the training of terrorist operatives, the funding of terrorist activity against Israel and assistance in the purchase of arms and ammunition.
Consensus is lacking on the extent of Syrian influence over Hamas; some believe the landlord-tenant relationship gives Syria decisive leverage. Others see a Syrian-Iranian rivalry and give Iran with its financial resources an advantage. Syrian officials argue that they deal with Hamas as one of the region's "realities," and there would be no need for Hamas, i.e., armed resistance, after a comprehensive peace deal with Israel. Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood. Syria outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, and technically, Hamas should be outlawed in Syria. But the minority Alawite regime needs Hamas as a means of placating the Sunni majority in the country, particularly given its alliances with Shia Iran and Hizballah. Though Syria does not share Hamas's religious ideology, the SARG finds its association with the group useful in enhancing Syria's position in the Arab context, as a card in future negotiations with Israel, and in placating the majority Sunni Syrian population.
The Syrian relationship with Hamas is yet another of Syria's associations based on short-term objectives and long-term contradictions. With Hamas claiming victory after the December 2008 - January 2009 military operation in Gaza, and Syria pretending to agree, both parties have seen their regional positions dramatically improve, putting the moderate Arab leaders on the defensive. Though Syria reportedly counseled Hamas not to end the six-month tahdiya that expired in mid-December, when the bombing started, Syria's support for Hamas was not in question. Syria correctly calculated that Hamas's threshold for victory - mere survival - was a much easier bar to cross that Israel's stated goal of destroying Hamas's capability to launch rockets into Israel. The Syrian government in general, and President Bashar al-Asad in particular, calibrated their public reaction in terms that captured the sentiments on the Arab street, lending legitimacy to Syria's support for resistance at the expense of moderates in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
The Hamas is active in a number of other countries in the Middle East, including Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. These countries provide support and assistance in funding and operations training.
The Hamas has an extensive network of financial sources, operating within the framework of Dawa activity, with a total value of tens of millions of dollars a year.
- Gulf States - A considerable proportion of the aforementioned funds originate from various sources in the Gulf States (The Gulf Cooperation Council States). Most of the funding is from Saudi Arabian sources, with a total value of $12 million a year.
- Iran - Its contribution was once estimated at $3 million a year. Syria, a long-standing Iranian ally, serves as the main hub through which Tehran sends weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas. In August 2011, Western media reported that Iran had cut back or even stopped its funding of Hamas after the organization, which rules the Gaza Strip, failed to show public support for Assad.
- Charitable associations in the Territories - Funds are raised for the Hamas through the mosques (a convenient domain for fundraising and recruitment of members) and through charity associations and foundations.
- Charity associations overseas
- Fundraising abroad and in the territories
It is not possible to separate the Dawa activities conducted for humanitarian purposes from the direct and indirect funding of terrorism: All the monies flow into a common fund, and are then channeled to the relevant activities, in accordance with needs and in coordination with the functions of the organization in the territories and abroad. The monies are transferred using the following means: bank transfers, moneychangers, private money services, unofficial networks for the transfer of funds and "unsuspecting" assistants. Thus, in view of the great difficulty in tracing the source of the money, its address and the motives behind the transfer of funds, it is essential that a strict and vigilant approach be adopted towards the entire fundraising network, operating within the framework of Dawa activity.
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