A bill to combat fund raising in Illinois to support terrorist activities abroad – the first bill of its kind in the nation – is heading to Gov. Jim Edgar’s desk.
The measure, which unanimously passed both the state Senate and House this month, was initiated by the Jewish Community Relations council of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago in response to reports that the militant Islamic group Hamas was receiving support in the Chicago area.
“The General Assembly is to be praised for passing this extremely important piece of legislation,” said Edward Fox, chairman of the JCRC. “Governor Edgar has already expressed support for the bill, so we look forward to this measure’s becoming law and helping to combat the scourge of international terrorism.”
Illinois, and in particular the Chicago area, has frequently been cited as a center of fund-raising for Hamas, which has carried out numerous terrorist attacks in Israel.
On May 8, in the decision to extradite suspected Hamas leader Abu Marzook to Israel, a federal Judge cited evidence describing the collection of “an enormous amount of money” in Chicago for Hamas.
“This measure empowers Illinois law enforcement to counter support for terrorist activities,” said Michael Kotzin, director of the JCRC.
“Its passage sends the strong message that the citizens of Illinois are appalled by the barbarism of international terrorism and that we will do our part in confronting the threat it poses to our nation and to others.”
The JCRC has established a Terrorism Awareness Project, which creates educational programming on international terrorism.
Other states, including Maryland and Wisconsin, have used the Illinois bill as a model for their own legislative initiatives, but those state legislatures have not yet acted.
“The bill complements the recently-enacted federal counter-terrorism legislation.” Kotzin said. “I provides effective way for state authorities to confront a problem that though international in scope is manifest locally.”