Israeli investigators indicted a major Hamas operative Thursday after an extended interrogation exposed his ties to the terrorist organization, as well as Hamas’ various methods of funding its activities.
(Israel Security Agency, IDF Spokesperson)
In April 2014, agents from the Israel Security Agency (ISA) arrested a senior Hamas terrorist, Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Tuama, at the Allenby Bridge crossing on Israel’s border with Jordan. During a subsequent ISA interrogation, Tuama admitted to serving as a member of Hamas’ General Shura Council under the direction of Hamas chief Khaled Meshal. The council contains Hamas’ senior leadership and shapes the organization’s overall policy, including aspects of its military activities.
Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Tuama was born in 1951. He is originally from Kafin, near Tul Karem and has been residing in Saudi Arabia since the 1970s. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1983 and joined Hamas in 1987, upon the founding of the organization. Hamas defines itself as the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to Tuama, the Hamas council includes eight representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood, who contribute to Hamas policy and make key decisions for the organization.
Tuama headed the council’s auditing committee, and in that role was deeply involved in its financial decision making.
He admitted that, until recently, the organization received most of its funding from the government of Iran, which is known to fund terror activities throughout the globe. In the past year, Iran stopped its funding to Hamas, which created economic distress within the terrorist organization.
During the interrogation, Tuama provided Israel with information on a series of international entities which are part of the Hamas global funding array, including organizations in Saudi Arabia that receive donations from all over the world. These include the Al Quds International Institution and Union of Good, headed by Yousef al Qardawi. Tuama also stated that Turkey and Qatar host Hamas’ headquarters and its senior members and provide Hamas with political, public and financial support. These countries have also received most of the prisoners relocated as part of the Gilad Shalit deal.
Tuama also confessed to advising the Hamas central leadership on ways to transfer funds for Hamas activity in the field without detection, including the buying and selling of real estate. He admitted to transfering about 750,000 Rial (nearly $200,000 in today’s terms) a few years ago under the guise of constructing a mosque in Tul Karem. Most of the Hamas-operated companies dealing with real estate are located in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
Tuama also gave information on the Palestinian Business Forum (PBF), used by Hamas to promote its economic interests. The Forum was founded by Hamas members and many of the Forum’s members are Hamas activists or identified with Hamas.
Hamas’ involvement in escalating tensions at the Temple Mount
In recent months there has been an increase in violent activity on the Temple Mount, and in some cases Israeli police have had to close the Mount to visits by Jews. Tuama revealed that Hamas is behind the projects of the Islamic Movement institution, Omara al Aqsa, which, under the guise of religious studies, pays youths a monthly salary of NIS 4,000-5,000 (approximately USD 1,140-1,430) to maintain a constant presence on the Mount and prevent visits by Jews.
In late 2013, the ISA and the Israel Police administratively closed down Omara al Aqsa after discovering its links to Hamas and the Islamic Movement, sometimes for violent purposes.
Tuama’s file was transferred to the Military Prosecution Service and on Thursday (May 29) his indictment was submitted to the Military Court.