Israeli Secret Service Believes Citibank Serving as Conduit for Hamas, Islamic Jihad Funds
The leading American bank, Citibank, has served as a channel for funds going to Palestinian organizations, and particularly Hamas and Islamic Jihad, said Haaretz, citing Israeli intelligence reports.
According to the Israeli daily, these agencies fear that the bank's recent establishment of its first branch in Israel is likely to further facilitate such fund transfers.
It added that the local intelligence apparatus believes that an Arab charitable agency “Al Aqsa” is the media for transferring these funds through the bank; meanwhile, it has asked the Bank of Israel for a permit to start a bank of its own.
Citing a report on Wednesday in the Israeli business daily Globes, a delegation from the government's Counter terrorism Agency met in New York last weekend with the heads of Citibank. The delegation warned Citibank executives that over the last year, more than $1 million collected by Muslim charitable associations in the US, which was in fact meant for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, was deposited in the bank. Some of this money has already made its way to Israel, and from there to the terrorist organizations; the rest is still in the bank. According to the Counter terrorism Agency, the establishment of a Citibank branch in Tel Aviv will greatly facilitate such transfers.
A bank spokesman was quoted as saying that the bank has “never done business with a terrorist organization." But he said that the Al Aqsa association is not on the US Department of Treasury's blacklist of organizations that serve as fronts for terrorist groups. Before meeting with the Citibank executives, the Israeli delegation also met with State Department officials to brief them on the findings, according to Haaretz.
Citibank is the first American bank to receive a license to operate in Israel.
The Counter-terrorism Agency is a unit of the Prime Minister's Office. One of its goals is to stop the flow of funds to terrorist organizations through Israeli charitable associations. There are at least 10 organizations in Israel which are thought to give all or part of their money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. One such organization, the Holy Land Fund in Umm al Fahm, has been declared illegal, the paper said.
According to a 1995 executive order by former US President Bill Clinton, the American administration prohibited any transaction or dealing by US citizens or persons within the country in property or interests in property of the persons designated by the Treasury, including the making or receiving of any contribution of funds, goods, or services to or for the benefit of such persons.
Citibank, a member of Citigroup, is one of the first international banks and was one of the first to establish significant representation in emerging markets. It has operations in over 77 emerging market countries – Albawaba.com
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