Switzerland has lifted travel restrictions on an Egyptian-Italian banker once suspected by the United States of having links to al-Qaeda. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) says it has also unblocked bank accounts belonging to Youssef Nada. Nada was banned from leaving his home in the tiny Italian exclave of Campione for almost eight years. Because of its location Campione has significant economic and administrative integration with Switzerland. Nada and his associates have denied links to terrorism and accused Swiss authorities of taking part in a US-led anti-Muslim campaign.Swiss senator Dick Marty is a long-standing critic of the Security Council blacklisting procedure and the inclusion of Nada in particular. Marty, who was appointed by the Council of Europe in November 2005 to investigate claims that the CIA had set up secret prisons in eastern Europe, pointed out that a four-year inquiry by Swiss prosecutors had failed to find any evidence against Nada.
A German language report also indicates that Mr. Nada has been removed from the U.N. sanctions list as well. Another report says that sanctions had been lifted in August against Ghaleb Ali Himmat, Nada’s business partner.
Nada and Himmat are best known for their role in establishing the infamous and now-defunct Al Taqwa Bank located “offshore” in the Bahamas. Numerous Muslim Brotherhood luminaries held shares in the bank, including the bank’s Sharia supervisor Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi and his family, which was supposed to conduct business in accord with Islamic principles. The bank was closed in 2000 after what Nada said were unforeseen developments related to the Asian financial crisis and a run on the bank caused by unfavorable publicity generated by accusations that the bank was funding Hamas. No documentation of the bank’s activities has ever been produced and Nada has refused to hand over the bank records which he said were moved to Saudi Arabia. Nada has claimed to be the acting “foreign minister” for the Muslim Brotherhood and is known to have met with Saddam Hussein. Himmat had also been a leader of the German Muslim Brotherhood.