Terror financing trial underway in Malmö

Security was tight at a Malmö courthouse as proceedings began on Monday to determine whether or not donations to the Swedish chapter of a Palestinian foundation were being used to support Hamas.

Terror financing trial underway in Malmö

All visitors were subject to a search as they entered the Malmö District Court for the trial of Khalid al-Yousef, the 44-year-old head of the al-Aqsa Spannmål, the Swedish branch of the al-Aqsa Foundation.

The foundation has collected more than 4 million kronor ($476,000) which it contends is used to help support Palestinian orphans and other humanitarian efforts. But prosecutors allege that al-Aqsa funds were sent to Hamas.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnström explained that everything related to the Palestinian question is politically explosive, referencing the recent escalation between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

“The case isn’t about taking a stance in the conflict, but about the fact that Hamas has been labeled a terrorist organization by the EU,” she said.

She then began reviewing the history of Hamas, its bylaws, and leadership, arguing that Hamas had established itself through violence and that the organization had “suicide bombers as a trademark”.

In her case, Hilding Qvarnström will attempt to show that al-Aqsa spannmål sent money to organizations with ties to Hamas and in so doing contributed to the deaths of innocent people in Israel.

“I assert that they have ties to Hamas and that’s what I intend to prove,” she told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

As a part of her case, Hilding Qvarnström plans to call a witness from Interpal, a UK-based organization which directs aid to Palestinians.

The witness is expected to confirm that Interpal and al-Aqsa spannmål are both part of the Union of Good, an umbrella organization the US claims was created by Hamas leaders to facilitate financial transactions for Hamas.

Back in 2003, the United States requested that Swedish authorities freeze al-Aqsa Spannmål’s assets because it suspected the group was funneling money to Hamas.

The group’s accounts were frozen in 2006 and Al-Yousef was arrested on suspicions of preparing acts of terrorism and general destruction.

However, he was later released due to lack of evidence.

He now stands charged with crimes against Sweden’s terror financing and sanctions laws. If convicted for the first crime, al-Yousef faces a penalty of six months to six years in prison.

One of those in attendance at the trial said that she had sent thousands of kronor to al-Aqsa spannmål, and is very upset about the charges against al-Yousef.

“I’ve sent money to children who don’t have any parents, they have no place to live; they’re starving. I’ve sent it to the children, not to Hamas,” she told the TT news agency.


Swede among ‘terror’ suspects arrested in the Netherlands

Dutch police have arrested four men including a Swedish citizen suspected of being involved in terror-related activities, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Swede among 'terror' suspects arrested in the Netherlands
Stock image/Depositphotos

“Rotterdam police detained four men early on Sunday evening on suspicion of being involved in terrorism,” the public prosecution's office said in a statement.

One of the men, aged 29, arrived on a flight from Stockholm earlier on Sunday while the other three aged 21, 23 and 30 come from the cities of Vlaardingen, Delft and Gouda in southwest Netherlands.

Dutch police raided three homes in the three cities and seized data but found no weapons or explosives, the statement said.

Although “there is no concrete information to indicate a terror attack, police and the public prosecution's office are not taking any chances,” prosecutors said without giving further information.

The suspects remain in custody pending a court appearance.

A Dutch citizen was sentenced to four years in November for preparing a terror attack following his arrest in Rotterdam last year, when police discovered an assault rifle and a large amount of fireworks.

In another scare, Dutch military police shot and wounded a man armed with a knife at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport earlier this month, but authorities said the incident was not terror-related.

The Netherlands has so far been spared from the slew of terror attacks to have rocked its closest European neighbours in recent years.