An Australian charity has been funneling funds to the Gaza Strip.
Muslim Aid Australia has ben sending the funds via Interpal, a British-based organization accused by the United States government of being the “fundraising co-ordinator of Hamas” and which has been banned by Australia and the U.S. for its alleged links to terrorism, according to a report in The Australian newspaper.
The organization recently sent almost $1 million for medical aid in Gaza, the paper reported.
Interpal, also known as the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, is based in Britain and, despite investigations in 1996 and 2003, is not proscribed there.
But the U.S. Treasury accused it in 2003 of being “part of a web of charities” raising funds for Hamas. Months later the Australian Government also proscribed it. The penalty for breaching the Australian law is a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and fines of up to $1 million.
Muslim Aid Australia is headquartered in Lakemba, a Sydney suburb home to the controversial Sheikh Tajeddin al-Hilaly, who in 2004 lauded suicide bombers while visiting Lebanon and in 2007 was cleared by police of channeling funds to Hezbollah.
Iman Partoredjo, the executive director of Muslim Aid Australia, this week issued a statement confirming it used Interpal to channel aid to Palestinians.
Muslim Aid Australia was established in 1989 to “alleviate the pain of those suffering and in need of relief in the accordance to the obligations imposed by the Qur’an,” according to its Web site.