Matthew Levitt , Senior Fellow and Director of Terrorism Studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and who has served since 2005 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the U.S. Department of Treasury has placed the hot-button issue of Hamas into perspective with his exhaustive exposé Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism In the Service of Jihad.
It should also be noted that Levitt has also served as FBI analyst providing tactical and strategic analysis in support of counterterrorism operations. He has specialized on fundraising and logistical support networks for Middle East terrorist groups.
This is a particularly daunting task where there is a multitude of ideological minefields behind much of the rhetoric that often characterizes the discussion. Levitt devoted three years of research, including several trips to the Middle East and Europe and his information was drawn from newly declassified intelligence, seized Hamas documents, and dozens of interviews on three continents with experts and officials, as well as imprisoned Hamas operatives. The result is a serious study analyzing how Hamas attracts and retains it base of operations and supporters and how it radicalizes, recruits, and dispatches Palestinian suicide bombers while at the same time succeeding in wooing Palestinians to vote it into power as the ruling political power.
Levitt also goes to great lengths in elucidating the political, charitable, and terrorist activities of Hamas and how they are reconciled. Commencing with the theme that there is no difference between Hamas' social arm and its terrorist operations, Levitt points out that what Hamas is endeavoring to accomplish is a "muddying of the waters" when they maintain that they are in fact separate entities- as nothing could be father than the truth. From an extensive list of documentation, we are shown how inside the Palestinian territories the battery of mosques, schools, orphanages, summer camps, and sports leagues sponsored by Hamas are all an integral part of its overarching apparatus of terror. These institutions are in the main breeding grounds for the recruitment of future suicide bombers, as well as serving Hamas in incitement and radicalizing Palestinian society.
Readers are then taken on an extensive journey where Levitt delves into the origins of Hamas, its relation to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and how the exploitation of the dawa tradition has most influenced the movement in a twisted manner. It should be noted that dawa in Islamic tradition is the obligation on the part of all Muslims to submit themselves to God (ibadah) and to preach or propagate (dawa, literally mean "a call to God) true Islam. The dawa that is manipulated in a cynical fashion provides Hamas with strong popular support as well as opportunities to carry out suicide attacks.
From here we learn about the many well-organized charitable foundations found in every corner of the world finances terror with their laundering, recruiting, employing, and hiding Hamas militants, providing administrative support to terrorist cells, engendering popular Palestinian (and broader Muslim) support for terrorism.
What was quite disturbing to read is how the dawa teaches terror and radicalizes Palestinian society. As pointed out, the key to their success is based on the fact that Palestinians live in an environment that by its nature creates social preconditions that Hamas is able to easily exploit.
The final chapter of the book suggests various ways in which Hamas can be replaced and even destroyed. According to Levitt, "denying Hamas the logistical, financial, and recruitment networks provided by the dawa infrastructure would go far toward disrupting its ability to carry out suicide bombings and other attacks that are its hall mark." One of the keys to success is the undermining the underlying support for Hamas targeting its base of social and political support. Levitt is keenly aware of the complexity of the problem. Moreover, his are words that are of insightful experience, that, if listened to could bring about possible change.