Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Egyptian media are reporting that the government has announced that it is revoking the passports of 800 Palestinians*, who received their passports during the former Morsi Administration. The grounds listed are fraud and forgery; no further details have been made available.

Those whose passports are being revoked reportedly include Hamas co-founder and current Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, who is an ethnic Egyptian, so you can assume that other senior Hamas officers are in the group whose Egyptian identity documents are being cancelled. The President of Egypt is said to have ordered the opening of an investigation into the issuance of over 13,000 passports to Palestinians, by the Morsi Government. The possibilities presented by these passports, for terrorist financing, are disturbing.

Should you, as a compliance officer at a bank with a larger number  of international customers, be approached by a prospective, obviously affluent bank client, bearing an Egyptian passport, ask yourself these questions:

(1) Was the passport issued during the term of the Morsi Government, between June12, 2012, and July 3, 2013 ?
(2) Does the client have a verifiable residential address in Egypt ? With the closing of Hamas offices by the Egyptian Government, front or cover offices probably no longer exist for Hamas in Cairo.
(3) Does your new client's Arabic contain typical Egyptian slang or terms ?
(4) In what city, town or village was the customer born, according to the passport ? Is it within the current borders of Israel or the West Bank ?

You can, alternatively, ask the Egyptian Embassy to validate a prospective customer's identity; they will probably tell you if the passport is no longer in good standing. It would be prudent to onboard any clients that you identify as Palestinians holding Egyptian passports, as they are most likely Hamas members from Gaza. The passport below is for illustrative purposes only, Note that place of birth & date of birth appear on the photo page. Was he born before 1948 ? Before 1967 ? Where ?

* It is probable that a large number of the passports were issued, based upon fraudulent representations that the applicants were of Egyptian ancestry or origin, and/or that they had no criminal records. Remember, "al-Masri," a common suffix in Palestinian family names, means literally , "the Egyptian."  

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