The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has been seeking legitimacy and money in Europe by leveraging networks affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, its parent organization, Avi Issacharoff reported Tuesday in The Times of Israel.
One of the goals of this campaign, which is ongoing in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, is to replace the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominating faction Fatah as the sole legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people. “Hamas, in this way, is slowly but surely establishing a global infrastructure of supporters who are providing not only encouragement and legitimacy, but also quite a bit of financial assistance,” Issacharoff wrote.
More of these “semi-official” events for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are hosted in the United Kingdom than anywhere else in Europe. Many of them are carried out under the cover of the innocuous sounding “Global Anti-Aggression Campaign.”
According to Dr. Ehud Rosen and Steven Merley, experts on political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood, the campaign began in Saudi Arabia in 2003 by two former al-Qaeda members who sought to portray the new group as “non-violent.” The organization was moved to Qatar in 2005 following objections from the Saudi government. “Its founding group from 2005 includes high-ranking Hamas officials, including political leader Khaled Mashaal, alongside representatives of other groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s global organization, Salafists and Salafi jihadists,” Rosen said.
After making the Gaza Strip its focus in 2009, the group issued its Istanbul Declaration, which was signed by 90 Muslim clerics and claimed that the “elected government of Hamas,” and not the Palestinian Authority, was the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
The group also called the Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace Initiative, which proposed Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from territories claimed by Palestinians, “a proven betrayal of the Islamic Nation and the Palestinian cause, and a blatant betrayal of the Palestinian people.”
While many of these Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations do not acknowledge their ties with the Egyptian group, they nonetheless “operate according to the long-established model of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas,” according to Issacharoff.
In each country there is a network of civil society organizations — in other words, dawa, a word in Arabic meaning proselytizing or preaching of Islam. These organizations are run by well-known figures who head madrasas, or Muslim schools; mosques; charitable organizations that raise money not only for Muslims in Europe but also for Hamas; and even student associations in every well-known university in Europe. Recently, Muslim “human rights” groups have been established that work to strengthen support for the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
According to Rosen, the Muslim Brotherhood-related groups in Europe lack “a centralized command structure or a prominent commander,” but “there are definite networks here, with major nexuses, such as London or Germany. They cooperate with the official Muslim Brotherhood and with Hamas.”
“Hamas’s place in the enormous organization known as the global Muslim Brotherhood is growing right now,” Rosen explained. “Hamas is the movement’s own flesh and blood, and it wants to take control of the PLO. This is why its global activity has taken on a new importance. The Palestinian organization is trying to re-invent itself, with a new platform and a supposedly more moderate direction, but they are still the same organization.”
Rosen added that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel “benefits from this Islamist infrastructure and receives assistance from organizations that are identified with Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood.” He noted that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal is even being discussed as a possible replacement for Ibrahim Munir, who heads the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Hamas’ activities with global Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated networks appear to contradict the terrorist group’s latest attempt to present a more moderate face to the world. According to recent reports, Hamas is considering rewriting its charter to implicitly accept a Palestinian state based on the 1949 armistice lines, erase explicitly anti-Semitic references to Jews and Judaism, and mask its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the new charter — which has yet to be accepted — still won’t include recognition of Israel.
In February, Hamas elected Yahya Sinwar, who spent two decades in an Israeli prison on multiple murder charges, to lead its political activities in Gaza. Sinwar has been described as “an extreme hardliner even for Hamas.”
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