The coalition behind the “Freedom Flotilla”, involved today in a military confrontation with Israeli naval forces, is primarily composed of organizations and individuals tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood. At the end of April, a web site representing the Union of Good, discussed later, identified the elements of the coalition behind the flotilla:
Gaza Free Movement had announced few days ago its intention to lead a sea convoy under the name of “ Liberty Flotilla “ to the Gaza Strip with the participation of many Turkish and European humanitarian institutions…The Popular Committee for Confronting the Siege announced its intention to organize a media campaign and a series of accompanying events to welcome the arrival of the convoy and to exert pressures on the Israeli side in case of obstructing the seaway of the convoy. In a statement received by Humanitvoice from the chairman of the popular committee, Jamal Al-Khudary reaffirmed that preparations are continued to organize the biggest celebration in the Gaza sea through the sailing of around 100 boats to welcome the arrival of the “ Liberty Flotilla”. He added that the number of coming supporters so far, has reached 500 persons including prominent European and American figures , besides a number of journalists, physicians, academics , and political figures. Mr.Arafat Madi, chairman of the European campaign to lift the siege of Gaza, has recently announced that the coalition that was formed and launched in Istanbul includes several organizations and institutions which will participate in breaking the Gaza siege. He explained that the coalition includes the European campaign, the Turkish Humanitarian Relief (IHH), the Greek vessel campaign, the Swedish vessel, and the Gaza Free Movement as they will all participate in launching the Liberty Flotilla .
1. Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH)
Insani Yardim Vakfi (aka IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief) was the sponsor of the ship involved in today’s military confrontation with Israel. Although the IHH web site has described a wide variety of charitable activities, Israel banned the organization in July 2008 as a member of the the Union of Good. Four months later, the US designated the Union of Good as a terrorist entity stating:
The leadership of Hamas created the Union of Good in late-2000, shortly after the start of the second Intifada, in order to facilitate the transfer of funds to Hamas. The Union of Good acts as a broker for Hamas by facilitating financial transfers between a web of charitable organizations–including several organizations previously designated under E.O. 13224 for providing support to Hamas–and Hamas-controlled organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. The primary purpose of this activity is to strengthen Hamas’ political and military position in the West Bank and Gaza, including by: (i) diverting charitable donations to support Hamas members and the families of terrorist operatives; and (ii) dispensing social welfare and other charitable services on behalf of Hamas.
A NEFA Foundation report noted that the Union of Good ” is headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, and most of the trustees and member organizations are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood. One of those trustees is Abd-al-Majid Al-Zindani, a Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood leader that was also designated by the US in 2004.
A report by a web site close to Israeli military intelligence further describes the IHH as close to Hamas:
In recent years, especially since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, IHH has supported Hamas’ propaganda campaigns by organizing public support conferences in Turkey. At those conferences, which featured the participation of senior IHH figures, the heads of IHH expressed their support for Hamas and its strategy (including the armed struggle it favors), in defiance of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ rival.
The report also states that IHH operates widely throughout Gaza and has transferred significant sums of money to support the Hamas infrastructure.
Another earlier report by the Danish Institute for International Studies suggests that IHH was also involved in “jihadist” activities around the world stating IHH:
…played “an important role” in the failed Al-Qaida Millenium bomb plot targeting Los Angeles International Airport. Turkish authorities began their own domestic criminal investigation of IHH as early as December 1997, when sources revealed that leaders of IHH were purchasing automatic weapons from other regional Islamic militant groups. IHH’s bureau in Istanbul was thoroughly searched, and its local officers were arrested. Security forces uncovered an array of disturbing items, including firearms, explosives, bomb-making instructions, and a “jihad flag.” After analyzing seized IHH documents, Turkish authorities concluded that “detained members of IHH were going to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya.”
The report goes to on to say that “the IHH is now active—and outspoken—in providing “charitable donations” to rebel-dominated areas of restive central Iraq..”
Interestingly, in 2002 correspondence from IHH was also found in the offices of the Success Foundation, an organization tied to the US Muslim Brotherhood. According to the deposition of a US Customs agent:
I have reviewed several pieces of correspondence on the letterhead of Insan Hak ve Hurrhyetleri Insani Yardim Vakfi, aka The Foundation for Human Rights & Humanitarian Relief and commonly referred to by the initials on it logo “I.H.H.” This correspondence was seized from the offices of Success Foundation at 3606B Forest Drive, Alexandria, VA in March 2002. The first letter, on IHH letterhead is dated August 1999 and states that IHH accounts have been closed by the Turkish government. It states that °we are only accepting cash/in-kind donations.¢ It is signed by Mehmet Kose, Director. This, and each of the other documents from IHH described hereafter, bears an Istanbul address.
2. The European Campaign to End the Siege On Gaza (ECESG)
A NEFA Foundation report documents the numerous ties between the ECESG and the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), essentially the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. In addition to his role as charman of the ECESG, Arafat Madi (aka Arafat Madi Shoukri) is the executive director of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) which has also strong ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood. Two PRC directors are also directors of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), generally regarded as part of the UK. Muslim Brotherhood. The PRC is also listed as an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) dominated by UK. Muslim Brotherhood groups. PRC activities are frequently promoted by the MAB, MCB, and other U.K Brotherhood organizations. PRC director Ghassan Four is also a Trustee of INTERPAL, a key member of the Union of Good and part of the Muslim Brotherhood Hamas fund-raising network . PRC director Zaher Birawi is a Trustee of Education Aid for Palestine (EAP), also a part of the Union of Good. Mr. Birawi is also head of programming for Al-Hiwar TV which frequently features MB/Hamas individuals and organizations and was founded by Azzam Al-Tamimi, a U.K Muslim Brotherhood leader and close to Hamas. An Israeli web site, known to be close to Israeli military intelligence, has reported that Mr. Birawi, along with another PRC Trustee, are “past Hamas operatives who found refuge in Britain in the early nineties.” The PRC has also been the co-sponsor of several conferences in Europe associated with Hamas. For example, the PRC was the co-sponsor of the Sixth Palestinians In Europe Conference which featured Nihad Awad of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), former US. Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Akram Al-Adlouni, and Raed Salah, a leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel and close to Hamas. The 2009 conference was addressed via video link by Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Another report from the Union of Good web site identifies Anouar Gharbi, a member of the European Campaign, as one of the founders of the freedom fleet’s coalition. Mr Gharbi is known to have been an officer of the Association de Secours Palestinien in Switzerland, the Swiss member of the Union of Good.
3. Viva Palestina
In addition to ECESG and IHH, the Union of Good web site also reported that Viva Palestina, founded by ex-British MP George Galloway, was to take part in the flotilla:
A delegation from British “ Viva Palestina “ headed by its executive manager Keiven Ofenden has arrived in Istanbul to participate in the sea convoy “ Freedom Flotilla” to break the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. Under the coordination of the Free Gaza Movement, numerous human rights organizations, including the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH), the Perdana Global Peace Organization from Malaysia, the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, and the Swedish and Greek Boat to Gaza initiatives will send three cargo ships loaded with reconstruction, medical and educational supplies. The Viva Palestina spokesman Zuhair Al-Barawi said that the participation of his organization comes within the framework of supporting the efforts aiming at breaking the oppressive siege on Gaza , and to reflect our solidarity and continued efforts to achieve the objectives of Viva Palestina to supply Gaza with lifeline. He also explained that the organization’s delegation will meet with the officials in Gaza Strip, as well as with those public parties and concerned people to discuss financing a number of long term projects , in the field of education, health care, and others. Meanwhile, Al-Barawi described the latest Israeli threats to the vessels of Freedom Flotilla, as baseless and reflect the bankruptcy and weakness of the occupation authorities. He also reaffirmed that such threats will not deter the leadership of the humanitarian see convoy, or other participants from realizing their target to deliver the relief material to the people of Gaza Strip. It’s worth to mention that “ Viva Palestina “ had already organized three land convoys to assist and relief Gaza, in an attempt to break its siege, besides the famous convoy that succeeded under the leadership of its founder, the British MP George Galloway, in delivering hundreds of vehicles that carried humanitarian relief to Gaza Strip.
Viva Palestina is a UK registered charity associated which is currently under investigation by U.K. authorities. The organization has organized several convoys of humanitarian aid to Gaza including the first convoy where Galloway was reported to have handed cash and three cars to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah and the second convoy where Galloway met again with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah. Previous posts have discussed Galloway’s trips to the U.S. in conjunction with the convoys including a trip in March 2009 where he participated in a Northern Virginia fund-raising event in which Muslim American Society leader Mahdi Bray was also scheduled to appear. Also, as noted above, Viva Palestina spokesman Zuhair Al-Barawi is also the Director of the Palestine Return Centre discussed above in connection with the European Campaign and tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood.
4. Other Global Muslim Brotherhood
In addition to the above three organizations, Al-Jazeera identifies the “International Committee to Break the Siege of Gaza” as one of the flotilla organizers as well as identifying Mohammad Sawalha as its Vice-President:
The biggest attempt by international aid groups to break the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip has gotten underway. Nine ships under the banner, Freedom Flotilla, began their journey to Gaza on Saturday, despite warnings from Israel that they will be stopped for “breaching Israeli law”. Mohammad Sawalha, the vice president of the international committee to break the siege of Gaza, one of the organisers of the mission, told Al Jazeera that a global movement, made up of people who want to send the message that the situation in Gaza is unacceptable, was growing.
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) has published a profile of Hamas activist and U.K. Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Kazem Sawalha, describing him as follows:
Muhammad Kazem Sawalha is a senior Hamas activist who publicly supports jihad and was formerly involved in both political and operational Hamas activities in Judea and Samaria, including running the terrorist operative infrastructure. He was wanted by the Israeli security services but in October 1990 used forced documents to escape to Jordan, and from there went to Britain. In Britain he has been involved in intensive anti-Israeli activities within the Islamic community, with the Muslim Brotherhood and with British organizations providing support for the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip.
The ITIC report goes on to discuss Mr. Sawlha’s numerous ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood.
Israeli media also reports that Sheikh Raed Salah was expected to take part in the flotilla. Sheikh Salah is the head of the Northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, considered to be the most extreme wing of the movement that essentially comprises the Muslim Brotherhood in Israel. In May 2003, Salah was arrested along with other Northern Islamic Movement officials on suspicion of transferring funds to Hamas under the pretense of humanitarian aid. He was released after two years under the terms of a plea bargain. In August 2007, Salah was indicted for “inciting racism and violence” for calling for a “third Intifada,” or uprising, to defend the mosque and in 2008 Israeli security forces raided the offices of the Islamic Movement in northern Israel accusing it of aiding Hamas. In May of this year, Salah said that Israel has a ‘diabolical plan” to cause the Al–Aqsa Mosque to collapse “in a way that would appear as is happening as a result of natural causes, such an earthquake.”
Numerous posts have documented the global campaign against the Israeli blockade of Gaza conducted by the Global Muslim Brotherhood.