Taxes on tunnel-smuggled goods and international donors make Hamas the second-richest terror group in the world after the Islamic State
(Written by the National Post Staff. Originally printed here, reposted with permission.)
A recent social media post shared by Israel’s Embassy in the U.S. underscores the vast reserves of wealth in the hands of the Hamas terror group, and the disparity between its leaders and the Palestinian people they claim to represent.
The 65-second video notes that, with a turnover of $1 billion annually, Hamas is among terrorist organizations second only to the Islamic State, which has an estimated two to three times as large a turnover.
It notes that Hamas uses its funds for tunnel-building rather than basic infrastructure such as wells and water treatment, with the result that 12 per cent of childhood deaths in Gaza are due to contaminated water.
It also estimates the net worth of several Hamas leaders — all of whom, it notes, live hundreds of kilometres from Gaza, in Qatar. Abu Marzuk, deputy chair of the Hamas Political Bureau is worth $3 billion, while senior leaders Khaled Mashal and Ismail Haniyeh are each worth about $4 billion.
The website i24news goes even further, giving a recent estimate for Mashal’s worth of $5 billion, with an investment portfolio that includes banks in Egypt and real estate projects in the Arabian Gulf countries.
It suggests that hundreds of mid- to high-level Hamas leaders have become millionaires, often due to the 20 per cent tax on all smuggled goods brought through the organization’s network of underground tunnels, and through international donors, primarily Qatar.
A report by MSN notes that, in addition to creating personal wealth, Hamas assets are often used to compensate jailed terrorists or their families, with payments ranging from $400 per month for those serving up to three years, to $3,400 per month for those serving 30 years or more. This in a region where 60 per cent of Palestinians live under the international poverty line of $60 per month.
Organizations and nations are doing what they can to crack down on Hamas’s assets, but enforcement can be complicated. Last month, CNN reported on an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Justice Department into the group’s use of cryptocurrency, stemming from the seizure three years ago of several such accounts that were linked to Hamas.
The group’s military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, had announced in April that it would stop fundraising in bitcoin, after several donors had been found out and charged by U.S. authorities. But at least some accounts still exist, as evidenced by Israel finding and freezing several after the Oct. 7 attacks.
On Oct. 18, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against what it called “Hamas operatives and financial facilitators.” These included eight individuals based in Sudan, Turkey, Qatar, the West Bank and elsewhere, as well as a virtual currency company called Buy Cash.
“The United States is taking swift and decisive action to target Hamas’s financiers and facilitators following its brutal and unconscionable massacre of Israeli civilians, including children,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen said at the time. “The U.S. Treasury has a long history of effectively disrupting terror finance, and we will not hesitate to use our tools against Hamas. We will continue to take all steps necessary to deny Hamas terrorists the ability to raise and use funds to carry out atrocities and terrorize the people of Israel. That includes by imposing sanctions and co-ordinating with allies and partners to track, freeze, and seize any Hamas-related assets in their jurisdictions.”