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Germany bans 'pro-Hamas' charity

AACHEN, Germany (CNN) -- Germany has shut down a charity it says supported the radical Islamic group Hamas and sent money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

German Interior Minister Otto Schilly announced the closure of the offices of Al-Aqsa in the city of Aachen on Monday, and the freezing of the group's assets.

"The Al-Aqsa supports violence as a means to push through politics. It supports an organisation outside Germany which is responsible for many murder attacks, and it is against the idea of understanding among nations," Schilly said.

"Under the cover of legal humanitarian aims, the Al-Aqsa supports violence and terror in the Middle East.

"It has promised so-called 'martyr families' in Palestine, especially the families of suicide bombers, financial support. This is aimed at taking away financial worries from suicide bombers regarding their families.

"At times, the charity has sent money via other innocent seeming organisations to the terror organisation Hamas," Schilly said.

The organisation collects money from across Germany, mainly from mosques and Islamic centres but also at public demonstrations.

The charity has denied supporting radical groups. It says it sponsors humanitarian projects for needy Palestinians as well as supporting educational projects.


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