Security Forces Bust $200,000 Hamas Smuggling Ring
The Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police announced Thursday that they have uncovered a Hamas finance ring running from the Gaza Strip to Turkey to Hebron. The ring, which officials said successfully provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hamas cells in Hebron, was planning to build a cement factory with millions of dollars in Hamas financing that would serve as a front for money laundering.
The security forces said in a joint release that the axis began operation in early 2016 at the initiative of Muhammad Maher Bader, a senior Hamas activist in Hebron and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council who recruited two couriers for transferring funds. One man, Muasseb Hashalmon, is a Hamas activist from Hebron who travelled to Turkey under the guise of business trips. There he was joined by an additional recruit, Taha Othman, also a resident of Hebron.
Muasseb Hashalmon was asked to transfer funds from Turkey to Hebron in order to finance the activities of Hamas’ Hebron command center. He was also asked to transfer funds for Hamas terrorists who had been released from prison.
At the same time, two of Muasseb Hashalmon’s partners – Yusri Hashalmon (his brother) and Omar Kimri – were in contact with Majad Jaba, a Hamas terrorist from Hebron who was released in the Gilad Shalit exchange and who assisted in coordinating the transfer of funds from Turkey.
Officials said that Hashalmon and Uthman met several times in Turkey with a Hamas commander named Haroun Nasser Al-din, also from Hebron. Al-din was released in the Shalit exchange.
Al-din would allegedly gave the couriers tens of thousands of dollars, who would in turn buy goods in Turkey and mail them to Hebron via international delivery companies. The goods would then be sold and the funds given to Hamas cells in Hebron.
Almost $200,000 was transferred to the Hamas command center in Hebron before the the ring was busted.
IDF military prosecutors are expected to file indictments against those involved soon.