NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE www.nationalreview.com
June 2, 2014 4:00 AM
Tax Dollars for Terrorists
Will Congress stop Obama’s lawless material support to Hamas?
By Andrew C. McCarthy
The problem with writing a book about President Obama’s lawlessness, as I have just done in Faithless Execution (which will officially be published Tuesday), is that eventually the author has to stop writing so the book can be printed. The administration’s illegal conduct, by contrast, rolls right along — so by the time the book comes out, I find myself several impeachable offenses behind.
At the moment, we are still processing the latest executive malfeasance: the president’s release this weekend of five senior Taliban jihadists in exchange for a U.S. soldier who is alleged to have abandoned his post in 2009 after complaining that “the horror that is America is disgusting” (and whose father is on a campaign to free all anti-American terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay).
Some lawmakers have pointed out that the release, which flouts American policy against negotiating with terrorists (Obama is a recidivist offender on that score), also violates federal law. Specifically, the president must give Congress 30 days’ notice before transferring detainees out of Gitmo, in addition to explaining how the threat to the United States has been mitigated so that the release is justified. Obviously, the president disregarded the law because complying would have made it clear that the transfer exacerbates the threat to the United States, sparking public and congressional protests that would have scotched the deal. It is a swap that the administration, which is delusionally courting the Taliban in hopes of an Afghan peace settlement, has been trying to make for years. So Obama did what Obama does when the law is against him: He ignored it, claiming not to be bound by it if he concludes the circumstances are “unique and exigent,” as a White House spokesman put it.
The swap, it should be noted, also violates federal laws prohibiting material support to terrorism. The Obama administration may think it can sidestep this inconvenience by its longstanding refusal to designate the Afghan Taliban as a terrorist organization. Federal law, however, bars giving support — including providing personnel, as Obama has done here — not only to formally designated terrorist organizations but to groups known to engage in terrorist activity, whether the State Department gets around to designating them or not. (See Sections 2339A and 2339B of Title 18, U.S. Code.) There is no doubt that the U.S. government knows the Taliban and its confederates engage in terrorist activity — it has been telling us for 13 years that this is why we must have thousands of American troops in Afghanistan.
Even as we come to grips with the administration’s newest outrage, though, it is necessary to look ahead to the next one — actually, an ongoing one that is about to get even worse: our government’s material support to the Hamas terrorist organization.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, announced Saturday that a “unity government” has been formed between his faction, Fatah, and Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law. It is pledged by charter to the destruction of Israel.
As noted above, federal law makes it a felony to provide material support to a terrorist organization. When the organization in question has been formally designated as a terrorist group, as Hamas has, the relevant penal statute (section 2339B of Title 18, U.S. Code) is crystal clear:
Whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life. To violate this paragraph, a person must have knowledge that the organization is a designated terrorist organization . . . , that the organization has engaged or engages in terrorist activity . . . , or that the organization has engaged or engages in terrorism.
The federal government has convicted numerous people in the United States for providing material support to Hamas. Not only is the law explicit; the government has made a compelling public case that Hamas is dedicated to violent jihad. Indeed, here is just some of what the Justice Department alleged (and later proved) about Hamas, as set forth in the 2004 Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing indictment:
1. The Harakat al-Muqawamah al-lslamiyya is Arabic for “The Islamic Resistance Movement” and is known by the acronym HAMAS. HAMAS, which is sometimes referred to by its followers as “The Movement,” is a terrorist organization based in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Gaza). HAMAS was founded in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is an international Islamic organization founded in Egypt in 1928 and is committed to the globalization of Islam through social engineering and violent jihad (holy war). HAMAS’ published charter states that HAMAS’ purpose is to create an Islamic Palestinian state throughout Israel by eliminating the State of Israel through violent jihad.
2. HAMAS achieves its goals through a militant wing, known as the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and a social wing, known as Dawa (“preaching” or “calling”). Although these two components have separate responsibilities, the organization operates seamlessly, with each component working to achieve the overall objectives of the terrorist group.
3. HAMAS’ military wing is responsible for carrying out suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks within Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. These attacks have targeted civilians and have resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of individuals, including American citizens. HAMAS’ social wing operates as a social welfare agency, providing food, medical care and education to Palestinians in order to generate loyalty and support for the organization and its overall goals. HAMAS supports religious and academic institutions that facilitate the teachings of HAMAS and introduce its radical and violent ideology at the earliest stages of spiritual and educational development. This social engineering is critical to winning the hearts and minds of the Palestinian people and to creating a military and operational recruitment pool for HAMAS. Additionally, HAMAS rewards past terrorist acts, and provides incentive for future acts, by financially subsidizing family members of HAMAS operatives who are killed, injured or imprisoned, and ensuring that the families are revered in the community.
4. HAMAS’ social services are, in large part, administered by local HAMAS affiliated zakat committees and other ostensibly charitable organizations. “Zakat” or “alms giving,” is one of the pillars of Islam and is an act incumbent on all practicing Muslims. The membership of these committees and organizations consists of HAMAS members, operatives and activists. HAMAS’ social infrastructure is supported by numerous financial sources located around the world, including individuals and entities in the United States. Additionally, due to HAMAS’ substantial expenditures and the fungible nature of money, some of the money collected externally under humanitarian banners is routed to military and operational use, in addition to freeing up other funds for specific terrorist acts. Such uses include the provision of weapons, explosives, transportation services, safehouses, and job salaries for operatives.
The indictment goes on to explain that President Clinton designated Hamas as a terrorist organization in 1995. Moreover, under powers conferred by Congress in the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, President Clinton issued executive orders that make it unlawful to engage in financial transactions with Hamas, including providing it with funds, goods, or services.
After the aforementioned material-support-to-terrorism statutes were added to federal law in 1996, Hamas was among the first groups to be formally designated as a terrorist organization. It is, as the indictment asserts, “unlawful to provide material support and resources, to include currency or monetary instruments, financial services, personnel, transportation and other provisions, to any component of HAMAS.”
There is no exemption in federal law for government officials who provide material support to Hamas. It is just as illegal for them to fund Hamas as it would be for you.
It is already an abomination that $400 million per year in American taxpayer dollars have been going to the Palestinian Authority under circumstances where we are well aware that (a) plenty of it finds its way to HAMAS, which controls Gaza; (b) the “moderates” of Fatah maintain their own terrorist wing; and (c) the Palestinians would already have a sovereign state and peace if they would convincingly recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, convincingly renounce terrorism, and drop their absurd demand for a refugee “right of return” that would destroy Israel from within.
Now, however, the emperor truly has no clothes. Hamas is formally going to be a part of the Palestinian government that the president is pressuring Israel to negotiate with — even though Hamas does not merely deny Israel’s right to exist but is actively working to annihilate the Jewish state.
Is Congress going to continue standing by while the Obama administration supports violent, anti-American jihadists? Caterwauling is not a response, it is an exercise in fecklessness. As I’ve argued in Faithless Execution, the Constitution provides our representatives with powerful tools to counter presidential lawlessness. If they won’t cut off the funding for terrorists and they won’t even utter the word “impeachment,” what exactly do they propose to do?
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His new book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, will be released by Encounter Books on June 3.