Terrorist groups, like Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, are enterprises like businesses, non-profits, and government agencies. Hamas, in fact, is a government, controlling the 141 square miles and 1.7 million people of the Gaza Strip.
Human enterprises are organisms with systems for sustenance, logistics, command and control, etc. They also have ideologies, and that of Hamas calls for violent jihad against the Jewish state. Its usual tactic is murderous terrorism against Jewish civilians. So, in 2008, a Hamas terrorist entered the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem and murdered eight students, seven of them teenagers, and wounded many others.
Enterprises can’t survive without nourishment. Hamas is nourished by a worldwide network of governments, Islamic charities and individuals that support its goal of killing or dispersing the Jews.
But the existence of the sources of nourishment isn’t enough. Since Hamas is a recognized as a terrorist organization and sanctioned by the US and other nations, there are impediments to transferring funds to it which can be translated into weapons, ammunition and jihadist expenses.
Sometimes this is facilitated by ‘respectable’ enterprises that are officially opposed to terrorism and murder, but in fact do whatever makes them a buck.
Like the Bank of China, according to the Israel Law Center — Shurat HaDin, which has filed a $1 billion lawsuit in a New York court accusing the bank of materially supporting Hamas terrorism.
The plaintiffs allege that starting in 2003, the national Chinese bank executed dozens of wire transfers for Hamas totaling several million dollars. These transfers were initiated by the Hamas leadership in Iran and Syria, processed through BOC branches in the United States and sent on to a BOC account in China operated by a senior militant. From there, the funds were transferred to Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
In April 2005, Israeli counterterrorism officers met with officials from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and China’s Central Bank. The Israelis demanded that the Chinese officials take action to prevent the BOC from making any further such wire transfers. “Despite these warnings the state-owned bank, with Beijing’s approval, continued to wire funds for terrorism, all while declaring that they did not consider Hamas a terrorist group,” stressed [Shurat HaDin director Nitsana] Darshan-Leitner. [my emphasis]
According to the complaint: “Most of these wire transfers were made to account #4750401-0188-150882-6 at a Bank of China branch in Guangzhou, China, in the name of ‘S.Z.R Al-Shurafa.’ The owner of the account, Said al-Shurafa, is a senior officer and agent of both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.”
The Bank of China has released a statement saying, in effect, that they would never dream of doing anything to help terrorists. But the complaint is persuasive in its argument that the bank’s officials had plenty of information about what Hamas was doing with the money it was transferring.
This would not be the first time that Shurat HaDin — a private legal organization — has struck a blow for victims of terrorism. In May, it obtained a $330 million judgment against Syria for its part in a 2006 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed a 16-year old American. Although Bashar al-Assad is unlikely to pay it, it can be enforced against Syrian assets like bank accounts and real estate in the US.
Will the families of the Mercaz HaRav massacre victims be compensated? Maybe or maybe not, but if Israeli officials were unable to get the Bank of China’s attention in 2005, they have it now.