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Discover Card Cuts Ties With Palestinian Terror-Linked Organization

Will no longer process donations to left-wing advocacy group that works to free Palestinians from Israeli prisons

Palestinian protesters burn the US flag during a demonstration organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. / Getty Images
and • September 16, 2021 5:00 am

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A major credit card company severed ties late last month with an organization accused of abetting Palestinian terrorism and backing economic boycotts against Israel.

Discover Card will no longer process donations to the Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ), a left-wing advocacy organization that provides funding to the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, a group that works to free Palestinians from the Israeli prison system. Discover Card froze donations after Israel designated Samidoun as a terror group earlier this year for its alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), according to information provided to the Washington Free Beacon by the Zachor Legal Institute, which has been pressing companies to cut ties with these organizations for several months.

Discover’s decision to cut ties with an organization accused of financially supporting Palestinian terrorism comes as online donation portals have increasingly come under scrutiny. In January, the online donation processing company Stripe cut ties with President Donald Trump’s campaign. Last month, ActBlue, the Democrats’ online fundraising platform, booted former New York Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo days before he resigned office in the wake of a sex scandal.

ActBlue, in particular, has come under criticism for facilitating donations to terror-tied groups that back the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which wages economic warfare on Israel. Rep. Tim Burchett (R., Tenn.) petitioned the Justice and Treasury Departments in March to investigate ActBlue for its work with these anti-Israel groups.

While Discover has not stated its reasons for booting AFGJ, its decision came after the Zachor Legal Institute pressured the credit card company to remove the group for its relationship with known terrorist organizations. Discover did not respond to a request for comment, but communications reviewed by the Free Beacon confirm that the company will no longer process donations made to AFGJ, and, by proxy, Samidoun. Israel’s designation of Samidoun as a terrorist organization tied to the PFLP came as part of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s campaign against the PFLP and its affiliates.

The Zachor Legal Institute praised Discover’s decision, telling the Free Beacon that processing donations to terrorist-tied entities is a "clear violation of federal law."

"We hope that all credit card processing companies terminate services for these organizations, as there is a clear violation of federal laws that prohibit providing financial services for designated terror groups like the PFLP," Marc Greendorfer, the founder of the Zachor Legal Institute, told the Free Beacon. "Using third parties such as the Alliance for Global Justice or ActBlue to facilitate payments does not change the fact that the payments are going to Islamic terror groups, and now the credit card companies have been fully informed of this fact."

As part of its campaign, the Zachor Legal Institute wrote to Discover and other major credit card companies outlining how AFGJ works to fund terrorism, and Discover ultimately decided to cut ties with AFGJ and Samidoun.

While all major credit card companies cut direct donations to Samidoun last year, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express still process donations to Samidoun through AFGJ—generating concerns these corporations may be violating U.S. anti-terrorism laws by aiding these Palestinian groups.

Pro-Israel advocates are warning other major credit card companies that they need to follow suit, lest they have blood on their hands. "If the credit card companies refuse to act within the law, hopefully the federal government will take action to protect well-intentioned people from donating to organizations that purport to be civil rights groups when, in fact, they are financing bloodshed and terror," Greendorfer said.

Burchett told the Free Beacon that Discover’s decision should prompt other payment processors like ActBlue to follow their lead. Earlier this year, Burchett demanded the Department of Justice investigate ActBlue for allowing its services to finance the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) over its close ties to Palestinian terrorism.

"Israel is the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East," Burchett said. "Unfortunately, when Americans donate to activist groups like Samidoun and PACBI, they potentially finance anti-Israel terror cells that have close ties to these advocacy organizations. Discover just prevented its service from being used to fund sinister violence against Israel, and ActBlue needs to do the same by kicking PACBI off its platform."

Israel designated Samidoun a terrorist organization earlier this year, claiming the group is "part of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and was founded by members of the PFLP in 2012." AFGJ funnels donations directly to Samidoun through its website.

"Representatives of [Samidoun] are active in many countries in Europe and North America, led by Khaled Barakat, who is part of the leadership of PFLP abroad," according to Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing.

Samidoun’s latest work advocating for Palestinian terrorists comes after six notorious members of Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad staged an elaborate escape from an Israeli maximum security prison. Samidoun refers to the escapees as "the freedom brigade," urging supporters to "take action" and "stand for Palestinian freedom." Among the escaped terrorists supported by Samidoun are Fatah commander Zakaria Zubeidi, who oversaw suicide bombings during the second intifada, and Eham Kamamji, who kidnapped and murdered an Israeli teenager.

Kamamji was proud of murdering the Jewish teen. "The teen I murdered was not a boy. He studied in an Israeli Air Force military college," he said in his 2007 sentencing hearing. "I will not be the first nor the last, so long as the occupation continues."

In addition to their active support for the escaped Palestinian terrorists, Samidoun and the PFLP share multiple organizational links, according to a review of the groups' leadership structure. Mohammed Khatib, Samidoun’s European coordinator, is a member of the PFLP. Samidoun called for the release of Mustafa Awad, a Hezbollah-trained PFLP member, after he was sentenced to prison in Israel.

Israeli authorities say Samidoun’s leadership is "involved with establishing militant cells and motivating terrorist activity in Judea & Samaria and abroad," adding that while "the formal goal of Samidoun is to assist Palestinian prisoners in their struggle to be released from prison … it serves as a front for the PFLP abroad."

Samidoun has been banned from online payment processors in the past. In 2019, for instance, online payment vendors PayPal, DonorBox, and Plaid shut off direct donations to Samidoun after they were informed of the organization’s ties to the PFLP. At the time, Samidoun blasted PayPal and Israel. "The Israeli state and the Zionist movement are continuing their attacks on the Palestinian prisoners and the Palestine solidarity movement," the organization wrote. "One of the most recent effects of these attacks was the closing of Samidoun’s PayPal account."