Thursday, September 28, 2006

Did I fund terrorism?

I read some shocking news this morning about National Westminster Bank.

Apparently, a court in Brooklyn has ruled that victims of suicide bombers in Isreal are allowed to sue the bank for funding the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, through a UK Charity called Interpal.

I was horrified. I've been a customer of Nat West for 21 years. Does that mean I've been supporting terrorism myself?

T and I discussed it this morning and we were all set to close our accounts and move to a different bank. I have always thought very highly of Nat West, received fantastic customer service and feel that we get great value for money.

But they gave money to Interpal, a charity group that was declared by the US Government a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" in 2003. This group apparently directly funded the terrorists of Hamas.

Just before we picked up the phone, though, I decided to dig a little deeper. And I found out some equally surprising things.

Yes, National Westminster Bank did give money to Interpal. Interpal is a UK Charity which raises money for relief and development in Palestine. It has been the focus of intense media scrutiny regarding it's links to Hamas. Their reputation isn't helped by the fact that one of Interpal's supporters is sleazy, self promoting, immoral crook George Galloway.

In 2003, the United States Government published a list of charities with alleged links to terrorism. The publication of this list led to Interpal's assets being frozen and the UK Charity Commision launching the first of two five week investigations into the conduct of Interpal. The United States government was requested to provide the evidence which had led them to including Interpal on this list.

What evidence did the US Government provide? None whatsoever.

As a result, Interpal was cleared of any wrong doing and allowed to continue fundraising.

Which kind of takes legitimacy out of the court case in America. National Westminster bank is being held liable for 15 suicide bombings but the crux of the case - whether Interpal is linked to Hamas or not - has not been supported by any actual evidence. It's simply being taken as established fact without having to be backed up by anything.

The US Government stamps a folder and says: "This is the truth. Accept it."

That dog won't hunt, Monsiegner. I make opinions based on evidence, not blind alligence.

So because there is such a gaping hole in the allegations being made against Nat West, T and I will not be moving our bank account.

That doesn't mean I'm happy about my bank donating money to Interpal, though. The fact they've got a windbag like Galloway supporting them, and the BBC declared them supporters of a "jihad ideology" means they're written out of my list of deserving causes.

I will write a VERY firm letter suggesting they donate the money to Battersea Dogs Home instead.

No comments: