EXCLUSIVE: Syrian Opposition Conference Organized By Muslim Brotherhood Leader


AFP has reported on a conference of “Syrian opposition” groups held Saturday in Brussels and cited an an organizer of the conference who is known to be a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Belgium as well as the son of an important Syrian Muslim Brotherhood figure. According to the AFP report:

Syrian opposition groups took their campaign to Belgium on Saturday where they demanded an end to the crackdown led by President Bachar al-Assad. Around 200 activists gathered at a Brussels hotel for a two-day conference after Turkey hosted a similar meeting earlier this week. The aim of the conference, said organiser Bassem Hatahet, was to send al-Assad the message that “if he is really a leader, he should stop his crimes, and that if his forces continue to imprison and torture protesters, there must be a regime change.” Hatahet said several different opposition groups and representatives from Syrian society were taking part in the conference. A statement would be issued at the close of the meeting on Sunday. Following the conference in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya on Wednesday and Thursday, opposition groups urged al-Assad’s immediate resignation and the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections within a year. Large crowds attended on Saturday the funerals of 50 people killed by security forces during anti-regime protests in Hama the previous day, human rights activists said. More than 1,100 civilians have been killed and at least 10,000 arrested in a brutal crackdown on almost daily demonstrations in Syria since March 15, rights organisations say.

A 2008 Belgian newspaper (see source below) report provided biographical information on Bassem Hatahet:

Brussels resident Bassem Hatahet, 43 years old , is the son of a big shot of the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brothers, whose attempt at coup d’etat was embedded in blood, in Hama, in 1982. After his arrival in Belgium, in 1985, via Germany, he started studying dentistry. He is behind the origin of a series of associations, dedicated to the collection of funds (for example Foundation Al aqsa), and many mosques, like Khalil (last in the hands of the Moroccan Brothers Justice and Development Party), in Molenbeek, or Assahaba, in Verviers. Presenting the profile of “financier”, he is active today in the European headquarters of the Brothers (Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe), located in Brussels. However, he never succeeded in obtaining Belgian citizenship.

Bassem Hatahet was first identified as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Belgium by a 2008 NEFA Foundation report which provided the following biographical details:

A January 2007 article posted on the Internet describes a Bassem Hatahet as a member of the FIOE.144 He is 43 years old and was born in Damascus, Syria where he likely still has relatives. Various sources list a residential address for Mr. Hatahet in northwest central Brussels.145 Security sources in Belgium describe Mr. Hatahet as the most important Muslim Brotherhood figure in Belgium, and a Bassem Hatahet was listed in a 1999 phonebook belonging to Youssef Nada, a self-described leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was designated by the U.S. in 2002 as a terrorist financier.146 147 Mr. Hatahet is an executive in at least two real-estate related businesses in Brussels, and a March 2007 announcement published by the city of Brussels indicates that he was constructing an apartment building with eleven apartments at that time.148 One of the businesses, Eurocim European Capital Investment Management, lists Monsieur Mohamed Rachad Hatahet with an address in Damascus as the other officer.149 The other business, Nitro EU Consulting, lists Karim Chemlal as Manager.150

The NEFA Foundation report also cites Hatahet’s connection to the Al-Aqsa Foundation, a part of Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi’s Hamas fundraising coalition known as the Union of Good. Both the Al-Aqsa Foundation and the Union of Good are designated by the U.S. as terrorist entities.

(Source: “L’homme clé” Le Vif/L’Express 25 Avril 2008, software translation)

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