Aid organizations around the world are collecting donations for the suffering population in Gaza. Hamas, which has ruled the Strip since 2007, has bulging bank accounts. Hundreds of millions of US dollars, which the heads of the terrorist organization do not spend on their population, but on attacks against Israel – and their luxurious lifestyle abroad. The so-called Shura Council is Hamas’ higher-level political body that makes the terrorist organization’s strategic decisions. The council has committees that manage Hamas’s various activities, including the Office of Investment. This monitors foreign trading assets, the extent of which only a few high-ranking officials know. The Hamas bosses call it the “secret portfolio.”
According to documents on Hamas assets and information from a former senior Israeli intelligence official who investigates the financial flows of terrorist organizations, Hamas higher-ups have built a financial empire outside the Gaza Strip with a total value of around $700 million. Accordingly, the secret terrorist portfolio includes between 30 and 40 companies that are primarily active in the construction and real estate sectors. These Hamas-controlled companies are located in Turkey, Qatar, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan. “This is the golden safety net for Hamas leadership and their families,” says a European financial investigator. “Not a cent of it went to the Gaza Strip.” While the population in the sealed-off area is suffering from the consequences of the Hamas attack on Israel, water, gasoline and bread are rationed, the Hamas bosses such as Ismail Haniyeh, Khaled Mashal, Saleh al-Arouri and others in luxury hotels abroad and have bank accounts around the world.
According to further secret documents, the Hamas leadership has access to dozens of accounts at Turkish banks such as Türkiye Finans, Albaraka, Kuveyt Türk, Vakif Katilim and the state-owned bank Ziraat Katilim, which are denominated in euros and US dollars. Correspondent banks that make transfers to Europe for the Turkish branches include the Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftsbank in Düsseldorf, the Unicredit Bank in Munich, and the Frankfurt branches of Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and Citibank Europe.
Around two decades ago, Hamas began investing donations in foreign companies instead of in the civilian infrastructure of the Gaza Strip. “They have deliberately set up a financial security umbrella for the day that Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey stop their financial support for Hamas,” says a money laundering expert. Accordingly, the Hamas bosses initially began building up their secret company portfolio in Saudi Arabia. But when the Gulf monarchy began cracking down on Hamas’ operations, they moved their financial office to Turkey.
The boss of Hamas’ financial apparatus is Zaher Ali Moussa Jabarin. Jabarin was one of more than a thousand convicted Palestinian terrorists that Israel exchanged for Hamas-kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011. He later relocated to Turkey along with several other released terrorists. Jabarin lives there but makes frequent visits to Lebanon, Qatar and Iran. He holds a Qatari passport and is Hamas’s liaison with Iran. Jabarin helps Hamas leaders set up businesses, obtain visas and acquire commercial real estate in Turkey. Some, like Hamas leader Haniyeh, who once vowed to live solely on olive oil and za’atar spice, have retreated to luxury hotels in Turkey and Qatar, leaving lower ranks and ordinary Palestinians to deal with the consequences of their terror -Strategy to cope.
Jabarin manages the finances for this. He reports to Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political office in Lebanon. Al-Arouri founded the terrorist organization’s armed wing, which invaded southern Israel on October 7 and murdered 1,400 people. In a telephone interview with Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s television channel, Al-Arouri said that Hamas was in constant contact with Hezbollah’s leadership. The Hamas leader boasted that the war against Israel “hasn’t even really started yet” – implying further Hezbollah attacks from Lebanon in parallel with Hamas rockets from Gaza. And any intervention by Iran.
As a result, the US Treasury Department sanctioned the actors and companies exposed at the time, such as the Turkish real estate investment company Trend Gayrimenkul Yatırım Ortaklığı A.Ş (Trend GYO). According to U.S. officials, Trend GYO was used to conceal and launder Hamas funds. Despite the sanctions imposed by the world’s most important financial authority, the Hamas company can apparently continue to do business unhindered in Turkey. The Hamas-run company reports a net profit of 57.8 million Turkish lira (around two million euros) for 2022. This emerges from a statement it submitted to the Istanbul Stock Exchange on February 13, 2023. The Hamas company’s shares are traded on the Turkish stock exchange. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has taken no action against the company or its representatives since the U.S. sanctioned it. Trend GYO continues to generate income from construction and real estate investments in Istanbul.
All publishing rights and copyrights reserved to MENA Research Center.