Yesterday, the GMBDW posted an analysis of the shoddy and irresponsible “journalism” by the Middle East Eye with respect to a report on the Hamas fundraising group the Union Good (UOG) authored by the GMBDW editor. In that analysis, we examined the credibility of the claim that links between a group of UK charities were “fleeting” and severed completely shortly after the founding of the UOG in 2001. Contrary to that claim, we noted that the same UK groups were listed on a UOG website as late as 2007, shortly before the US designation of the UOG as a terrorist entity in 2008. As we noted, that page appears closely related to Essam Yusuf (aka Essam Mustafa), the head of the UOG at that time, and that:
The GMBDW does not find it credible that the UK groups in question were unaware of their listings on these other UOG sites, particularly given 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 like to further point to the following on p. 6 of the NEFA Foundation report:
In June 2001, the Arabic language UG site also listed the names of 29 individuals comprising the original UG “Board of trustees”, while in November 2001, the English language site identified 20 individuals as members or potential members of the UG Supervisory Board. This list is attached as Appendix 2. It should be noted that two prominent members from the U.K. were listed on the Arabic pages, but not on the English-language pages:
- Ahmed Al-Rawi: Former President of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe.
- Iqbal Sacranie: Former Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.
A recent UG website contains an English list of twenty-seven UG Trustees that appears identical to an Arabic list posted on another UG site and is attached as Appendix 3 of this report.
What was referred to as the “recent UG website” was in fact the same website that also featured the page listing the UK organizations that were the focus of the MEE article and that yesterday’s post identified as one of three known UOG websites.
While Iqbal Sacranie has denied ever being a UOG Trustee, it has never been explained why his name appears in 2001 on the “official” UOG website as a UOG Trustee and as late as 2007 on another UOG website along with Ahmed Al-Rawi as a “Union Member”. It is important to understand that Ahmed Al-Rawi and Iqbal Sacranie are two of the most prominent Muslim leaders in the UK and both have played important roles in UK charities. In fact, Sacranie was a long time trustee of Muslim Aid, one of the UK charities under discussion and served as its Chairman including during 2008. He was also the Founding Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in 1997 and served as the MCB leader until 2005. MCB affiliates include INTERPAL, headed by former UOG leader Essam Yusuf and the original host of the UOG, as well as all four of the UK charities under discussion that were identified in the NEFA report as UOG members in 2007:
- Muslim Hands
- Human Appeal International
- Human Relief Foundation
- Muslim Aid
As was the case with the UOG web page listing the UK groups, the GMBDW does not find it credible that UK charity leaders, and particularly Iqbal Sacranie, could have been unaware that as late as 2007 UOG websites were listing these four UK charities, as well as their names, as associated with the UOG. Furthermore, surely if he was aware Sacranie would have taken action to have them and his name removed from the sites or at least publicly disclaimed the affiliation, particularly with respect to Muslim Aid where he was the Chairman. Yet, the GMBDW sees no evidence that any such action or disclaimer was ever made, thus further refuting the MEE claims that links between the UK charities and the UOG were “fleeting.”
Of course, it goes without saying that the MEE report did not choose to include any of the above evidence in its highly selective portrayal of the NEFA Foundation report.