Germany shuts down Islamic charity
- Germany bans Palestinian charity with Hamas links
BERLIN, Aug. 5 Germany banned on Monday a Palestinian charity accused of
having close links to Islamic group Hamas and of supporting the families
of suicide bombers in Israel.
Interior Minister Otto Schily said the Al-Aqsa charity, based in
the western city of Aachen, had promoted the idea of a ''Holy War''
against Israel and was incompatible with new anti-terror legislation
adopted in Germany since September 11.
The charity denied the allegations and said it would appeal the
''Al-Aqsa encourages the use of violence in the Middle East,''
Schily told a news conference shortly after police raided the
organisation's headquarters and homes of its staff.
''It offered financial support to families of suicide
bombers...allaying the fear of potential bombers about the future
wellbeing of their families,'' Schily said.
Schily said the charity also provided support to Hamas.
''The goal of this organisation is the destruction of the state of
Israel,'' he said, noting that Hamas had claimed responsibility for many
attacks, including Sunday's bus bombing in northern Israel that killed
Mahmoud Amr, the head of the charity in Aachen, said he would
appeal against the ban.
''We don't understand it. We have invited both the state and the
federal interior ministries for talks so that we could explain our work
and to prove that it is purely humanitarian work,'' he said.
Asked if humanitarian help included money to families of suicide
bombers, he said: ''They definitely do not get any help from us.'' The
group helps jobless, orphans and others, he said.
''We will contact our lawyers and take the necessary steps to lift
the ban to ensure that the organisation may continue its work.''
In a statement, the Interior Ministry said Al-Aqsa was created in
1991 and collected donations at mosques and Islamic centres across
Schily said Al-Aqsa was the first organisation to be banned since
Germany toughened its anti-terror legislation following the September 11
attacks in the United States blamed on Osama bin-Laden's al Qaeda network.
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