What do ya call 10000 corrupt Islamic “charities” at the bottom of the sea? A good start. One more sinks to the bottom today with an US Treasury Department announcement that they’ve frozen the assets of KindHearts, one of dozens of Holy Land Foundation front groups.
I’m going to close my eyes, cross my fingers and hope beyond hope that this is part of a coordinated effort with FBI and State to cut funding to Hamas. And that more arrests and frozen assets will soon follow. Earlier this week the State Department announced that the PA has agreed to return money originally sent to their to support the development of a responsible state. Our leaders also say that we’re halting all new funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA). It would be foolish to end the “official” funding for PA/Hamas activity and not attempt to cut unofficial flow from “charitable” non-profits. Shutting down KindHearts is a good start, but I don’t see this as “progress” in our war against terrorist financing.
This is a disaster. I know I keep saying this, but Hamas’ win last month shattered all hope of “peace” in the region. The whole idea of "peace" is based on 20th century assumptions of self-interest and political maneuvering. The image we had was of secular Arab states at peace with Israel as a way of achieving their own self-interested goals. Right now that idea seems quaint. It resembles something concocted in a think tank report dated 1988. It's no longer possible to hope that the PA would become a new Jordan or even Lebanon, because it has chosen a path toward hardline, sharia-governance. Secular Arab states are a thing of the 20th century. The only new pathseems to leads us toward Islamist states based on the ideology of the Ihkwan and hell-bent on global domination. A possible third way -- the experiments in Iraq and Afghanistan -- is our only hope for positive change in the region.
Shutting down KindHearts (and hopefully others) is good, but it's too little, too late. It appears to be a decision made out of desperation rather than strategy, like a diplomatic “signal” to Hamas leadership: “See, we’re serious.” We should have shut down KindHearts and all the others years ago. Even if such activity only disrupted the flow of money, it would have caused enough stress on the group to keep it weak. Instead we spent years collecting evidence for criminal cases, even as money continued to flow into the group, permitting it to establish social institutions (including schools, health centers, and an excellent PR service) and credibility.
I suspect we permitted Hamas to gain legitimacy because our analysts, pundits and policy-makers still saw the possibility of a secular Arab state at peace with Israel. Hamas was seen as a fringe group that targeted Israelis, when in fact it's a regional branch of the enduring, worldwide Muslim Brotherhood (a group that takes itself very seriously). There was a failure here to take Hamas and its goals seriously.
Shutting down charities is a good start, but I doubt that any of this activity matters now. Hamas has seized control of this strategically significant real estate; they’ll be able to bribe and blackmail other governments to fund their activities. They have control of a currency and a banking system. They have control of security forces and an intelligence apparatus. And yet 20th century analysts continue to hope to see a secular state at peace with Israel. They continue to talk about moderating factors and speak of hope and expectation when it comes to Hamas leadership.
21st century analyst need to take a different view. They should see the war on terror as a long term offensive (and to a lesser extent a defensive war) against a global enemy bent on domination.
We need to start taking Hamas – and other Islamist groups -- seriously. One charity isn’t enough.