The Conflicts Forum has posted a new article by Ismail Patel, head of the U.K. based Friends of Al-Aqsa, that identifies Mr. Patel as a member of the organization’s advisory board. The article celebrates what it believes to be the developments in the Middle East in favor of Hamas:
In the post Arab Spring milieu, the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people, Hamas, has found an ear from quarters once viewed by them as conspirators. Egypt, which gave Israel the green light in 2008 for its operation Cast Lead, resulting in over fourteen hundred deaths, is today playing the honest broker. Turkey, once an ally of Israel, having remained silent in Operation Cast Lead, had its Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, label Israel ‘a terrorist State’. Tunisia, which previously never registered on the radar of concern for Israelis under Ben Ali, sent a delegation headed by its Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem on November 17, while Israel continued pounding Gaza from the air, sea and land. Even the impotent OIC was roused into action and dispatched a delegation to Gaza, while once the rhetoric capital of North Africa, a Gaddafi-led Libya , marshalled doctors and medical supplies accompanied by its vice-president Salah Makhzoun and Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Hakor. Of what significance and impact are these developments? They do not simply represent a realignment of nations away from Israel, but bear several considerable repercussions which could affect how and who conducts politics in the Middle East. The free nations of the Arab Spring, including Turkey, have demonstrated in their stances against ‘Operation Pillar of Defence’, the right to exercise their people’s views – independent of the positions held by the US, EU or Israel. This newly-asserted democracy has emboldened them to directly input into the Palestine-Israel conflict. Meanwhile, the Gulf States and neighbouring Jordan, despite their vast amount of capital and US reliance, have become subsumed to insignificance. Further, the present leaders’ irrelevance amongst their populations heightened, which is likely to shift the already disgruntled public, from an agitated, towards a more revolutionary state.
Read the rest here.
The Israeli Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) has published a profile of the U.K group Friends of Al-Aqsa. The profile begins:
August 31, 2011 Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA): a pro-Hamas British organization based in Leicester which advocates Israel’s elimination. The organization takes part in all aspects of the campaign to delegitimize Israel in Britain: boycotts of Israel, dissemination of anti-Israel propaganda, involvement in convoys and flotillas for the Gaza Strip, and anti-Israel demonstrations in London.
1. Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) is an anti-Israeli NGO established in Britain in 1997. The organization is based in the city of Leicester (home to a large Muslim population) and has branches in London and other British cities. Self-described as anti-Zionist, the FOA qualifies Israel’s policy as “apartheid”, supports Hamas and the “resistance” (i.e., terrorism), and seeks to put an end to Israel’s existence as the state of the Jewish people under the title of “liberation of Palestine”. Similarly to other organizations taking part in the delegitimization effort, the FOA t attempts to conceal and play down its real objectives by fine-tuning its rhetoric for Western ears and using such terms as “peace in Palestine”, “respect for international law”, “respect for human rights”, and “implementation of UN resolutions”.
Read the rest here.
The FOA frequently acts in coalitions with the U.K. Muslim Brotherhood and the presence of Mr. Patel on the Conflicts Forum Advisory Board further reinforces that organization’s ties to Haas and the Global Muslim Brotherhood.
The Beirut-based Conflicts Forum is head by former MI-6 agent Alistair Cooke and its advisory board in the past has included
- Azzam Tamimi, a leader in the U.K. Muslim Brotherhood and often described as a Hamas spokesman
- Milt Bearden, a former CIA agent who played a leading role in the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
- Lord John Thomas Alderdice, one of the two organizers of a proposed video link-up in the British Parliament with Khaled Meshaal, then head of Hamas’ Political Bureau.
- Graham Fuller, a former Vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA.
- Moazzam Begg, former Afghan militant and Guantanamo Bay inmate
A New York Time report provides some background on Mr. Crooke that may, in part, explain some of his beliefs:
Mr. Crooke has spent much of his career talking to Islamists. In the 1980s, as a young undercover agent in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he helped funnel weapons to jihadists fighting the Soviets. Later, he spent years working with Hamas and Fatah as a negotiator for the European Union, and helped broker a number of cease-fires with Israel between 2001 and 2003… He is a little evasive about his own life and career, perhaps by training. Born in Ireland, he grew up mostly in Rhodesia, today Zimbabwe, and was educated at a Swiss boarding school and at St. Andrew’s in Scotland, obtaining a degree in economics. Before joining MI6, he worked in finance in London. “It’s a dangerous area to work in,” he said of his years as a banker, without apparent irony, “because it’s so easy to get caught up in enrichment.” He is barred by law from discussing his service with MI6, which included years of diplomatic work on the Israel-Palestine issue. As a negotiator in the Palestinian territories, he is said to have traveled alone, by taxi, eschewing the armed security convoys of many Western diplomats. Colleagues who worked with him say Yasir Arafat and the leaders of Hamas trusted Mr. Crooke completely, as did some high-level Israeli officials. Some Israelis, however, apparently complained that he was too close to Hamas. In late 2003, he was recalled to London — he had reached retirement age — and quietly ushered out of government service, with a commendation. He says he has no regrets, but some of his colleagues in Conflicts Forum say he retains some bitterness about the way he was treated. In 2005, he moved to Beirut, where he lives with his partner, Aisling Byrne, and their 1-year-old child, Amistis, in an elegant, old French mandate-era apartment, working out of a home office.
Another media report describes a March 2005 meeting in Beirut attended by Crooke that included the Muslim Brotherhood as well as Musa Abu Marzuq, deputy leader of Hamas, and two of his senior colleagues, leaders of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and representatives of Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami party.
An earlier post discussed a book by Mr. Crooke titled “Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution” that, like the above piece, treated Hamas and Hezbollah so favorably and the West so critically, it raises legitimate questions about Mr. Crooke’s religious and political loyalties. The central thesis of the work, that Hamas and Hezbollah are at the forefront of “resistance” to Western “hegemony”, places the two Islamist organizations squarely at the center of a “clash of civilizations” as opposed to the nationalist struggle so often identified by supporters as being at the core of the groups’ identity. Another post discussed a second glowing tribute to Hamas and Hezbollah as well as to Islamism in general where Mr. Crooke wrote that, Islamism is “an attempt to shape a new consciousness.”
Another post discussed another of Mr. Crooke’s defense and tribute to Islamism this time characterizing Islamism, particular Shiite Islamism, as the “emergence of an ‘resistance axis’ to that very that very élite dominated ‘world order’ and its systems of control imposed upon societies.”