Hamas has secret foreign investments worth hundreds of millions - report

If the West cracked down on investments and the countries facilitating them, the Gaza-based terrorist group’s destructive activities could be impaired.

YAHYA SINWAR, leader of Hamas in Gaza, gestures on stage during a rally in Gaza City on May 24 (photo credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90)
YAHYA SINWAR, leader of Hamas in Gaza, gestures on stage during a rally in Gaza City on May 24
(photo credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90)

Hamas is concealing secret foreign investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars in seemingly legitimate businesses, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Furthermore, if the West cracked down on these investments and the countries facilitating them, some of the Gaza-based terrorist group’s destructive activities could be impaired, according to the Double Cheque website and former Mossad officials.

Intelligence information indicates that from the early 2000s until 2018, Hamas controlled some 40 commercial companies in Turkey, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Algeria and Sudan, Double Cheque reported.

Most of the companies involved are in the real-estate and infrastructure sectors. Through the companies, Hamas manages huge projects and has a reliable way to conceal around $500 million in assets, the article said.

Palestinian Hamas militants take part in an anti-Israel rally in Gaza City May 22, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Palestinian Hamas militants take part in an anti-Israel rally in Gaza City May 22, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

Double Cheque was established to “provide a service for business and intelligence companies as well as financial and regulatory bodies interested in maintaining legitimate business activities and avoiding illegal deals,” its website says.

Although there is little information about the personnel who run the website, much of its information is based on intelligence sources, the Post understands.

Prior to 2015, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan and other Gulf states allowed their business and banking sectors to be used by Hamas to raise funds that could later be used for its terrorist activities.

But from 2015-2016, the Saudis shifted their position, leading Hamas to move the bulk of its investment operations to Turkey.

Algeria continues to be a major source of foreign investment revenue for Hamas, the report said.

Sudan appears to have cut back much of its support for these activities since the warming of relations between Jerusalem and Khartoum in 2020.

“Hamas has chosen to manage its secret investment portfolio in Turkey because of the weak financial system in Turkey, which enables Hamas to hide its money-laundering activity and tax violations from the regulatory bodies,” Double Cheque reported.

“The details of the Hamas operatives mentioned in the documents of the portfolio’s companies prove that this is a false portfolio,” the report said. “In total, there are nine Hamas operatives who are members of more than 18 companies. One operative holds key positions in as many as 13 different companies, all controlled by Hamas’s secret investment portfolio.”

Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization in the US, EU and many other countries.

The Double Cheque investigation unmasked how Hamas “succeeded in systematically deceiving tax authorities, institutions, and clients in Europe and the Middle East for two decades by establishing its financial investment portfolio.”

Although the information from Double Cheque only runs through 2018 for purposes of declassifying and publicizing the information, similar Hamas activities are ongoing to the present day, the Post has learned.

Among the banks that have facilitated this Hamas scheme are Al Ahli Bank, Abu Dhabi Bank, Al Masri Bank and Qatar Bank. Regarding Abu Dhabi Bank, the Post understands that even as Israel and the UAE have normalized relations, it does not mean the Emirates has cut all ties with Israel’s adversaries.

Hamas uses these assets to finance its terrorist activity and military buildup, including procurement of weapons.

The companies use deception to “ostensibly carry out legitimate, innocent activity,” Double Cheque reported. “They have business ties with leading international companies and banks in Europe, report to the tax authorities, manage their accounting records, and work with banks, insurance companies, suppliers, and clients on a regular basis.”

However, the entities “are actually controlled by members of Hamas,” which skillfully “exploits the lenient regulations in the countries in which it operates and jeopardizes the banks, insurance companies, accounting firms, and other financial service providers by pouring funds used to support terror into their systems without their knowledge,” the report said.

“Trend Gyo, controlled by Hamas, has five subsidiaries in Turkey,” it said. “Senior officials in the investment portfolio hold dual, high-ranking positions in all five companies.”

Trend Gyo is a public Turkish real-estate investment and development company that is traded on the Istanbul stock exchange and is also known by its previous name, Anda-Turk/Anda Gayrimenkul, the report said.

It is a subsidiary of the Saudi company Anda, which is owned by Hamas.

Anda has ties with the Saudi company Asyaf, which was designated by the US Treasury in September 2015 under Executive Order 13324 for involvement in funding Hamas’s terrorism, Double Cheque said.

The leader of Hamas’s global foreign-investment efforts is Ahed Sharif Abdullah Odeh, who was born in Jordan.

Odeh is one of six Hamas operatives who are partners in the Turkish company Uzmanlar Co. and serve on its board of directors.

Uzmanlar Co. is a construction company and subsidiary of Anda Gayrimenkul Co., which was established in 2001 and with Ahmad Jahleb, another Hamas operative, as its CEO.

This company established two subsidiaries in 2014. One of them imports and exports air conditioners and elevators, and the other is in the tourism sector.

In the past, Uzmanlar Co. had not only operated in Turkey, but also in Jordan, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

Odeh is said to be a key official in about nine Hamas front companies.

The next most important figure in Hamas’s global fundraising operations is Hisham Yunis Ichiyeh Qafisheh, who serves as the accounting architect or brains of the operation, the report said.

Qafisheh has long held both Palestinian and Jordanian citizenship and more recently also obtained Turkish citizenship. He is the chairman of the board of directors of IYS Yapi Co., a contracting company in Turkey.

Its CEO is Hamas operative Walid Jadallah, and the company is also a subsidiary of Trend Gyo.

Qafisheh also figures as a director or key shareholder in another dozen or so Hamas front companies.

Ibrahim Jaber is a key figure for the global scheme, but he is not mentioned in the Double Cheque documents because he resides in Gaza and is the point person for coordinating much of its logistical and operational issues there.

Documents that Double Cheque obtained from intelligence sources reveal Hamas reports and accounting balances for companies in the secret portfolio.

According to these documents, some of which are displayed on Double Cheque’s website, Hamas’s balance sheet contains the names of the companies under Hamas control, with the names of its “operatives” and “facilitators.”

“Operatives” refer to long-standing Hamas members, whereas “facilitators” refer to individuals who are not members of Hamas but are routinely used in the foreign-investment scheme, some knowingly aiding Hamas and some unwittingly.

“The trial balance sheet includes accounts receivable and accounts payable, and accounts that are financially managed with the company,” the report said. “This proves the financial involvement of leading Hamas members in the investment portfolio.”

Hamas views its secret portfolio as a strategic asset and financial insurance policy, providing it with access to hundreds of millions of dollars when necessary, without the scale or source of the funds being exposed.

Having such funds gives Hamas some independence from its benefactors, such as Iran. This helps Hamas make its own decisions without too many conditions tied to foreign financial support.

Despite this, “Hamas continues to rely mainly on terror funding from Iran” for ongoing military operations and in the meantime “rarely uses the money from the investment portfolio, preferring to save it for emergencies,” Double Cheque said.

According to Uzi Shaya, a former senior financial-warfare officer in the Israeli intelligence community, in recent years, “one of the most powerful tools for Israel to combat terrorists, and harm their finances, has been weakened. From an issue that was given strategic importance, it has been neglected to the point of being, at best, a tactical consideration.”

“The climax of this process has been the transfer of millions of dollars in cash by the State of Israel to the organization Hamas,” he said.

“The financial arm of Hamas was established in the early 2000s and has laundered millions of dollars,” Shaya said, adding that this financial plot and mechanism recently “has not only not been reduced, but has rather grown significantly over the years.”

“The State of Israel needs to act and return to the basics in which financially harming various terrorist organizations is a significant part of harming those organizations themselves,” he said.

If the US and the West would increase financial pressure on Hamas’s foreign investments, it could significantly harm the organization’s potential for terrorism and extended rounds of conflict with Israel, Shaya said.

The Defense Ministry declined to respond to a request for comment from the Post.