A U.S. designated terrorist group plays a key role in dispatching convoys to the Gaza Strip, according to a report released by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel.
Interpal is a British-based charity named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2003 for its support for Hamas. Interpal is also a member of the Union of the Good, designated by the U.S. in 2008 under Executive Order 13224 for supporting and transferring funds to Hamas.
Interpal has sent its officials to the Gaza Strip through its Miles of Smiles convoys over the past two years. In June, Miles of Smiles 3 was greeted by Hamas leader and designated terrorist Ahmad al-Kurd. Interpal Vice Chairman Essam Mustafa (also known as "Essam Yousef") met with Hamas Prime Minster Ismail Haniyeh during the trip. Mustafa was referred to as the "general coordinator" of Miles of Smiles 2 and 4 by articles in the Arab media. He is "a key personality in the Hamas-supporting financial system in the Western world," according to the Israeli center's report. He is also the co-founder and executive director of the Union of the Good.
The most recent Interpal convoy, Miles of Smiles 4, entered the Gaza Strip via Egypt on July 31. "Resistance is our strategic choice and it will go on. We won't recognize Israel and we won't make any concessions on any of our people's legitimate rights, mainly the right of return," Haniyeh told representatives of the group at his office. Participants included Essam Mustafa and Ibrahim Hewitt, the chairman of Interpal and senior editor of the Islamist publication Middle East Monitor.
Interpal's participation in convoys to Gaza is not limited to Miles of Smiles. In March 2009, Interpal activists participated in the first Viva Palestina (VP) convoy to the Gaza Strip. Viva Palestina is a UK-based organization which has delivered millions of dollars to the Hamas-regime in Gaza through its convoys. Interpal has also helped raise money for VP's convoys.
A fifth Miles of Smiles convoy is scheduled to reach Gaza late this month, and two more are scheduled to arrive by November. Also, a South African aid convoy comprised of organizations and individuals that are members of the Union of Good expects to arrive in Gaza in late August, according to the Israeli report.