The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated the Elehssan Society, including all its branches, as a charitable front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). A deadly Palestinian terrorist group, PIJ has been named a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the U.S. Government and is also named on the European Union's list of terrorist entities.
"Elehssan masquerades as a charity, while actually helping to finance Palestinian Islamic Jihad's acts of terror against the Israeli people and other innocents," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury's Under Secretary for the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI). "We will not hesitate to act against those who enable murderers, regardless of how they disguise themselves."
Today's action marks the 400th individual or entity designated under Executive Order 13224, President Bush's Order aimed at freezing the assets of terrorists and their support networks.
On February 25, 2005, PIJ, claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in Tel-Aviv that killed five and wounded over 50. Evidence available to the U.S. Government corroborates that PIJ, based in Damascus, Syria, was implicated in planning the attacks. According to a significant volume of information available to the U.S. Government, PIJ leadership in Damascus, Syria controls all PIJ officials, activists and terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza.
According to a fifty-three count indictment filed in February 2003 in the United States District Court in the Middle District of Florida, beginning in the early 1990s, the Elehssan Society served as the fund-raising arm of PIJ in Gaza and the West Bank, soliciting, collecting and distributing donations. According to the indictment, PIJ and Elehssan's objectives include murder, extortion, money laundering, fraud and misuse of visas.
Elehssan also utilized Internet websites for the solicitation of funds, according to the Federal indictment. These sites featured PIJ claims of responsibility for terrorist acts and material on PIJ leaders, such as PIJ's Secretary General, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah. Shallah has been named a Specially Designated Terrorist by the U.S. Government.
According to a signed declaration filed in open court in the U.S. in October 2000, PIJ runs or supports a number of organizations, including Elehssan. As of 2004, information available to the U.S. indicates that Elehssan Society's leader played a primary role in PIJ's financial council. Notably, he coordinated with PIJ Secretary General Ramadan Shallah on organizational and operational issues.
As of late 2003, Elehssan cooperated with PIJ to distribute funds to the families of PIJ prisoners and deceased members, and was informed by PIJ when entitlements were sent. Information available to the U.S. shows that Elehssan maintains lists of PIJ-associated families who are to receive compensation � including the families of PIJ suicide bombers. For example, details of early 2004 financial transfers from PIJ entities outside the Palestinian territories to PIJ members and supporters in the West Bank included a payment of $900 to benefit the family of a deceased PIJ operative, who died conducting a suicide attack.
Information available to the U.S. shows that to move money, select PIJ members serve as links between PIJ headquarters and members in the Palestinian territories. PIJ funds were deposited directly into PIJ members' accounts and into PIJ "charitable" accounts, including the Elehssan Society. PIJ funds for the Elehssan Society primarily came from outside the West Bank and Gaza.
In late 2001 and early 2002, the Palestinian Authority closed several offices belonging to PIJ in the Palestinian territories, including Elehssan. Despite this apparent set back, in 2003 PIJ initiated efforts to expand Elehssan's activities, notably making plans to open a branch in Ramallah.
As of 2005, information available to the U.S. Government shows that PIJ continues to fund activities via the Elehssan Society. Notably, in 2005 PIJ funds were provided to Elehssan Bethlehem and in 2004, information shows that PIJ provided funds to Elehssan in Gaza and Lebanon. In mid-2002, Elehssan received hundreds of thousands of dollars from abroad that were deposited into accounts in the West Bank.
In addition to its use as a financial conduit, Elehssan is used by PIJ to recruit for its operational cadre. In early 2003, Elehssan planned to open a youth center to support PIJ activity and conduct PIJ-related recruitment and training. Information available to the U.S. indicates that the absence of a PIJ youth center in that location was regarded as one reason behind a lack of PIJ activity in the area.
Also to support its recruitment efforts, in mid-2002, PIJ provided money to a run a summer camp project in the West Bank. In 2003, a PIJ leader, also identified as a senior official for Elehssan, reportedly said that PIJ summer camps emphasize, "culture, Islam and fun, with a marginal political dimension." Yet according to another source, the aim of at least one PIJ-run summer camp is reportedly the recruitment of suicide bombers.
Today's designation includes the entire Elehssan organization including its headquarters, believed to be in Gaza City, and all its branch offices including in Janin, Ramallah, Tulkaram, Hebron and Bethlehem, as well as in Lebanon.
AKAs: ELEHSSAN SOCIETY
ELEHSSAN SOCIETY AND BIRR
ELEHSSAN SOCIETY WA BIRR
BIRR AND ELEHSSAN SOCIETY
BIR WA ELEHSSAN SOCIETY
JAMI'A AL-AHSAN AL-KHAYRIYYAH
AL-AHSAN CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION
AL-IHSAN CHARITABLE SOCIETY
AL-BIR AND AL-IHSAN ORGANIZATION
AL-BAR AND AL-IHSAN SOCIETIES
AL-BAR AND AL-IHSAN SOCIETY
AL-BIRR WA AL-IHSAN WA AL-NAQA
AL-BIRR WA AL-IHSAN CHARITY ASSOCIATION
THE BENEVOLENT CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION
Addresses: Al-Muzannar St, Al-Nasir area
Gaza City, Gaza (Headquarters)
P.O. Box 398 Hebron
Elehssan was designated today pursuant to Executive Order 13224 chiefly pursuant to paragraphs (d)(i) and (d)(ii) based on a determination that the organization assists in, sponsors or provides financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, or is otherwise associated with, persons listed as subject to E.O. 13224.
Blocking actions are critical to combating the financing of terrorism. When an action is put into place, any assets existing in the formal financial system at the time of the order are to be frozen. Blocking actions serve additional functions as well, acting as a deterrent for non-designated parties who might otherwise be willing to finance terrorist activity; exposing terrorist financing "money trails" that may generate leads to previously unknown terrorist cells and financiers; disrupting terrorist financing networks by encouraging designated terrorist supporters to disassociate themselves from terrorist activity and renounce their affiliation with terrorist groups; terminating terrorist cash flows by shutting down the pipelines used to move terrorist-related assets; forcing terrorists to use alternative and more costly and higher-risk means of financing their activities.