Shoddy & Irresponsible “Journalism”- The Middle East Eye On The Union of Good

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The Middle East Eye (MEE) has published a report titled “A Very British Witch Hunt: The Truth Behind the Muslim Charities Extremism Scandal” that among other things, attacks the credibility and veracity of a report on the Hamas fundraising group the Union of Good authored by the GMBDW editor. The most relevant portion of the MEE report is as follows:

It cites the Nine Eleven Finding Answers Foundation (NEFA), a highly partisan, right-wing think tank set up in the United States in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to probe groups allegedly funding terror. NEFA’s website displays almost no information about it.

We approached Islamic Relief, Muslim Hands, Muslim Aid, Human Relief Foundation and Human Appeal. They all strongly denied that they had links to the Union of Good and say they were wrongly listed by the organisation as participants or members.

They said that some charities’ logos were reproduced without consent on Union of Good marketing material. Even though their names were removed when the error was flagged up, NEFA appears to have seized on it and linked all five charities to the Union of Good.

Read the entire piece here.

To begin with, it appears that MEE based its characterization of the NEFA Foundation as “a highly partisan, right-wing think tank” on what it called “NEFA’s website.” The problem is that the NEFA Foundation discussed in the article actually has no website because it ceased operations for all intents and purposes in 2010. It appears that the domain has since been acquired and now used by a group describing itself as “an alt-right news hub for politics, election results, terrorism, and finding the truth in a world of lies and deceit.” This new group also, and for unknown reasons, has chosen to adopt the former NEFA Foundation’s tagline “Nine Eleven Finding Answers.” However, the GMBDW editor worked closely with the original NEFA Foundation as a former analyst and we can assure you that the group currently hosting this domain has no connection whatsoever to the group he worked with from 2007-2010. MEE could have ascertained this information had it chosen to do the minimum of diligence and reached out to any of the former individuals associated with the original NEFA Foundation (unfortunately the former head of that NEFA has been severely ill with a life-threatening disease and cannot speak for himself at the current time.)

Furthermore, we can assure you that the original NEFA Foundation was in no way a “a highly partisan, right-wing think tank” as the MEE article alleges. In fact, the NEFA personnel represented a wide variety of political viewpoints linked together with a common purpose which was to develop new information useful in the fight against terrorism. The extent to which it was successful in doing that is another discussion, but the GMBDW editor can state with 100% certainty that no political pressure or influence of any kind was ever at anytime brought to bear in relation to his work with NEFA nor is he aware of any connection between NEFA and “rightwing” political groups in the US or elsewhere.

Given the irresponsible manner in which the MEE article treated the subject of the NEFA Foundation, it is no surprise that its comments on the NEFA Union of Good report are equally shoddy and irresponsible and we doubt that the MEE authors have even read the original report which is freely and publicly available. The MEE article implies that the NEFA report “seized” on the original listings by the UOG of the UK organizations in question as the sole means to links them to the UOG. However even if it is true as the MEE article claims that the names of these groups were removed from the UOG “marketing material”, and we see no evidence other than the statements of the group themselves for this, the NEFA report documents that the UOG appeared to have been associated with at least three different Internet domains and websites with only the original clearly disclosing that association. Had the MEE authors actually read the report, or honestly reported on it, surely they would have noticed the following on p. 12:

A 2007 UG website contained an Arabic list of 54 participating organizations in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, while another UG site had similar listings in English, which is attached as Appendix 4.

As late as 2007, and just before the US designation of the UOG, two of those domains continued to list all of the UK organizations in question complete with contact information and sometimes banking details. One such page was posted using the page title “e2telaf-alkhir”, roughly translated as “Coalition of the Good” and a known “Aka” for the group. This page also featured a photo of UOG head Essam Yusuf aka  Essam Mustafa), captioned “The Union on the Threshold of a New Stage” which pointed to a report where Yusuf discusses the UOG. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that the website in question is in fact a UOG website and that in 2007, long after the 2001 founding of the UOG first known as the 101 Days Campaign, it was listing the UK organizations as either UOG members, affiliates, points of donation, or in some other way tied to the UOG. It also constitutes far more than the “fleeting link” between the UK groups and the UOG as characterized in the MEE report as well as contradicting Essam Mustafa’s own statement in the MEE article where he tries to cast doubt on those ties, albeit with what appears to be carefully chosen language:

Essam Mustafa, a trustee of the large British Muslim charity Interpal and a founder of the Union of Good, said that there was no formal engagement or membership agreement between these charities.

The GMBDW does not find it credible that the UK groups in question were unaware of their listings on these other UOG sites, given their long standing duration as well as the prominent role played by Essam Mustafa in the UK Palestinian charity scene nor does there appear to be any evidence that these listings were in any way objected to prior to the US designation of the UOG. (The GMBDW would also like to point out that there was a second NEFA report where each of the UK organizations was extensively reviewed and where both their ties to the UOG and their alleged connections to terrorism were discussed.)

Finally, the GMBDW finds it ironic that the MEE authors attempted to discredit the NEFA UOG report on the unfounded and irresponsible accusation that NEFA had unsavory ties when it is MEE itself that should be called into question. In June 2014, we reported on a series of articles in the UAE-based The National that among other things noted the following with regard to INTERPAL, intimately involved with the establishment of the UOG:

Also involved in the launch of Middle East Eye is Adlin Adnan, who registered its website and was previously head of policy development at Interpal, a British charity whose stated aim is to raise money to aid Palestinian causes. Ms Adnan declined to answer questions from The National.

The National Report also discusses the background of former MEE journalist Rori Donaghy who, as we reported in 2014 has his own ties to UK Muslim Brotherhood figure Anas Altikriti and who once worked with a Hamas think-tank in Gaza.

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