UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

JustGiving removes Interpal fundraising pages

Just Giving, the crowdfunding platform, has removed more than a dozen pages raising funds for Interpal.  This was as a result of a letter to JustGiving from UK Lawyers for Israel, pointing out that they were contravening USA and Australian anti-terror legislation by participating in fundraising for a designated terror organisation.

The pages, which have now been taken down,  included Mohammed Mohsin Rehmani’s half marathon fundraising page, which had raised £1257.85, Arif Ismail’s Gaza Runners page which had raised £8,095 and Muhammed Ibrahim’s page had raised £703.50  for Interpal.

Interpal is designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US[1] and is also listed as a Terrorism Financing Entity in Canada[2] and included on Australia’s consolidated list[3] for its affiliation to terrorism.   It is not designated in the UK as a terror organisation, and indeed continues to run as a charity.

Interpal was described as follows by the US Department of the Treasury:

“Interpal, headquartered in the UK, has been a principal charity utilized to hide the flow of money to HAMAS.   Reporting indicates it is the conduit through which money flows to HAMAS from other charities, e.g., the Al Aqsa Foundation (designated under EO 13224 on May 29th) and oversees the activities of other charities.   For example, the Sanabil Association for Relief and Development (designated as part of this tranche), represents Interpal in Lebanon.   Reporting indicates that Interpal is the fundraising coordinator of HAMAS.   This role is of the type that includes supervising activities of charities, developing new charities in targeted areas, instructing how funds should be transferred from one charity to another, and even determining public relations policy.”

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the US Department of the Treasury, has listed Interpal[4]  as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).  As such all US entities and their subsidiaries must comply with the sanctions. Interpal is supposed to be denied access to the U.S. financial system and the benefits of trade, transactions, and services involving U.S. markets and businesses.  Fines for violations can be substantial. In many cases, civil and criminal penalties can exceed several million dollars.

US Citizens and local entities are prohibited from contributing funds, goods, or services to the designated entity; from transacting or dealing in property with the entity; and prohibited from providing the entity with any financial, material (including any service), or technological support.[5]

Just Giving has a US subsidiary, JG US, Inc., and also an Australian subsidiary, so would be affected by Australian and US sanctions, even though Interpal is allowed to operate legally in the UK.

Just Giving said that they closed the account that Interpal had with JustGiving in 2009, although some of the pages, which were accessible until last week, had also been closed in 2009.  However, several crowdfunding pages, where individuals were raising money on behalf of Interpal, had not been closed down, and indeed had been posted quite recently and were still actively fundraising.

Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI commented: “We are pleased that Just Giving acted so swiftly in removing the  pages which breached the US and Australian anti-terror regulations.”

[1] https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/js672.aspx

[2] http://www.osfi-bsif.gc.ca/Eng/fi-if/amlc-clrpc/atf-fat/Pages/default.aspx?pedisable=true

[3] http://dfat.gov.au/international-relations/security/sanctions/Pages/consolidated-list.aspx#list

[4] https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/js672.aspx

[5] https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=5eae22affe2e3675b6deaa3fb796eb7a&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title31/31cfr594_main_02.tpl