A charity praised by Gordon Brown and the Prince of Wales has been placed under investigation by the Charity Commission following claims it had channelled hundreds of thousands of pounds to groups linked to a banned terrorist organisation
According to its own accounts, Muslim Aid paid £325,000 to the Islamic University of Gaza, where leading Hamas figures teach, and £13,998 to the al-Ihsan Charitable Society, designated by the US government as a "sponsor of terrorism" and a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group.
Security sources also claim that Muslim Aid has helped channel a further £210,600 to six other organisations in the Gaza Strip since July 2009, all of which they say are also linked to Hamas.
Despite repeated approaches for comment over more than a week, Muslim Aid has refused to deny these claims.
In a statement, the Charity Commission said: "We take very seriously allegations of links between charities and terrorist activity, and consider funding of terrorist organisations to be a 'zero tolerance' issue.
The Commission has opened an investigation into Muslim Aid in light of these allegations and is working with the charity to address the issues raised."
Muslim Aid is banned from the West Bank by the Israeli government, which says it is a member of the Union of Good, an alliance of charities that raise money for Hamas. Hamas is banned throughout the EU as a designated terrorist organisation.
In a video address to Muslim Aid's 25th anniversary dinner last month, Mr Brown praised the charity's "valuable work".
He said: "I wish Muslim Aid and its passionate and committed staff and supporters the very best for another 25 years of achievement."
The Prince sent a message saying that "our country is incredibly fortunate to be able to count on organisations like Muslim Aid, who bring not only help, but hope to those most in need".
Muslim Aid, based at the hardline East London Mosque, has close links to the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), a fundamentalist Muslim group based in the same offices.
Muslim Aid raised more than £24 million last year and has been given at least £830,000 of public money. It claims to serve humanity "regardless of political affiliation" and only supports lawful organisations.
However, one foreign security source said: "We are opening our eyes on them. In the past they were supporting the outer rim of Hamas societies in Gaza. Now they are supporting the core."
The accounts also show that Muslim Aid, which calls itself an "international development" charity, paid nearly £175,000, which according to the charity's aims would be intended for "disaster relief", to the UK-based lobbying group, the Muslim Council of Britain, another body closely influenced by the IFE. The MCB has no role in disaster relief.
Muslim Aid was unavailable for comment but has previously said that it works only with "lawful and legitimate" partners.
Please write: COMMENT in this box to verify that you are human