Openly supporting Hamas and not being ashamed of the fact that you are indeed the most notorious fundraiser in the Netherlands: until a week ago, Amin Abou Rashed lived his life quietly and proudly in the suburbs of The Hague, while raising money for Hamas through the foundation of his daughter, the Israa Foundation. Their arrest turned his life upside down.
Last week, Abou Rashed and his daughter Israa were arrested by the Financial Investigation Unit (FUI) on suspicion of transferring 5.5 million euro to Hamas and other related terror groups. Abou Rashed was previously sanctioned in 2003, when a Dutch court demanded the freeze of all credits of his previous foundation, named Al Aqsa Netherlands. He appealed to the highest court, but the verdict remained intact, and Abou Rashed had no other option than to find a new way to channel money to his beloved Hamas. His daughter was the solution.
Israa Abou Rashed had also started a foundation to support the Palestinian people. This ‘support’ can be interpreted rather broadly because, according to the FUI, the funds from her foundation were transferred to organizations connected to Hamas. Her father was part of the board until 2009. Then his name was removed from their website, a trick that also happened very quickly with Israa’s name last week after her arrest. Both of them are in custody awaiting their trial.
These activities are a dangerous threat to the democratic values on which European society is built. It is unacceptable that individuals in the Netherlands are funding war and terror, thus ultimately funding the death of innocent Israelis. Their arrest was long due (rumors of Abou Rashed’s alleged involvement in fundraising for Hamas first surfaced over 15 years ago), but finally understood as necessary. This just might open the door towards other arrests in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.
Unfortunately, Amin Abou Rashed and his daughter are just small fish in a pond full of people who think terrorism is sexy. Members of the European Union are negotiating with the Iranian Ayatollah regime in Qatar about Iran’s nuclear program and the possible lifting of financial restrictions laid upon them by the international community. Iran is known as a significant supporter of terror groups, and it is not difficult to imagine that Hamas will be funded even more when the financial restrictions for Iran are lifted.
When that happens, the arrest of Amin Abou Rashed and his daughter Israa will just be a drop in the ocean, since Iran funds Hamas with amounts far greater than the 5.5 million euros that father and daughter Abu Rashed passed on. The time has come for European leaders to understand that the Ayatollah regime of Iran is the number one sponsor of terror. And this is not only the case in the Middle East, but also in other parts of the world where the foreign forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Gard (IRCG) are trying to win influence by getting involved in civil society projects.
Europe should stop approaching the regime as a regular partner in negotiations. Iran is not a regular partner; it is a terror force trying to expand its tentacles across the Middle East and the rest of the world. Lifting financial restrictions would only mean more terror, and not only in Israel. Just last week, we saw how a terrorist plot by the regime was thwarted by the Mossad and Cypriote security services. It is time to approach the Ayatollah regime for what it is: a danger to Israel and the West.
The FUI in the Netherlands did their work well and dealt Hamas a serious blow by cutting off a large money tap from the Netherlands. Now it’s up to other European leaders to act as well: lifting Iran’s financial restrictions will not contain terrorism; it will only stimulate it, and Hamas will receive even more means to kill innocent Israelis. FUI gave a good example, and Macron and his colleagues must understand that supporting terrorism is not sexy anymore!
Raouf Leeraar is a policy advisor on Israel and the Middle East for the Centre for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI) in the Netherlands
This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world. Read the previous article by Rebekah Mann