As is known, one of the reasons for the unplanned lethal outcome of last year's flotilla was the fact that Israel's armed forces and intelligence had based their plans upon the premise that the 2010 flotilla would, like its predecessors, be made up of Western 'peace activists' who were expected, at worst, to engage in sit down strikes and maybe a bit of name-calling.
Indeed, that premise proved to be correct with regard to all the other boats in the flotilla which were stopped and towed to port without incident. Things only went horribly wrong aboard one ship – the Mavi Marmara – because of the presence on board of members of the IHH and other extremist Islamist organisations. With that lesson in mind, two recent pieces of news demand particular attention.
The first is the announcement that a Jordanian ship may take part in the flotilla. According to the official flotilla website, the chairman of the Jordanian Lifeline Committee, Wa'el al Saqa, revealed on Sunday that a "small ship" has been purchased for a sum of 560,000 Euros and registered to a company called 'Nour' which was specially set up for the flotilla. Around 35 Jordanians are expected to sail on board that ship, together with 35 passengers from other Arab countries.
Mr. Wa'el Akram Assa'ad al Saqa is no stranger to the high seas. In fact he was aboard the Mavi Marmara as head of its Jordanian delegation when elements among its passengers viciously attacked the Israeli soldiers trying to prevent it from breaching the naval blockade. He was later deported back to Jordan, but the experience appears not to have deterred him from trying to reach Gaza again in October 2010 when he took part in the Jordanian contingent of George Galloway's 'Viva Palestina' convoy. That attempt failed too: al Saqa – along with Galloway himself and some 15 others – was banned by the Egyptian authorities from entering their country. That could well have something to do with the fact that Mr. al Saqa is a known Islamist activist and a long-standing member of the Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to the involvement of members of a prior convoy in violent attacks on members of the Egyptian security forces.
The second news item worth considering is a report by Israeli intelligence which suggests that two other well-known figures may also be aboard the current flotilla. Dutch citizen Amin Abu Rashed (aka Abou Rashid, Abou Ibrahim) was also deported from Israel in June 2010 as he too took part in last year's flotilla aboard the Sfendoni. Rashed has a rich history as a fundraiser for Hamas having been a member of the now defunct Al Aqsa Foundation in the Netherlands.
" In the U.S. government's prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation, a Texas-based charity charged with funding HAMAS, an exhibit provided a description of the HAMAS support network in Europe. The writer of the document was Amin Abou Ibrahim of the Foundation al-Aqsa in Rotterdam. Since the de facto closure of Foundation al-Aqsa, Amin Abou Ibrahim, whose real name is Amin Rashid, moved on to the Foundation Palestinian Platform for Human Rights and Solidarity (PPMS)."
He is also a founder and prominent member of the 'European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza' – one of the organisations behind the whole flotilla project – which was established in 2007 by the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe; the Muslim Brotherhood's European arm and accordingly has received funding from the Al Aqsa Foundation.
The other possible passenger is Mohammed Ahmed Hanoun from Genoa in Italy. He is president of an organisation called the ABSPP – Associazone Benefica di Solidarieta con il Popolo Palestinese. He is also head of the API – the Association of Palestinians in Italy; in fact the two organisations are indistinguishable and both are members of the Union of Good. The Union of Good, or 'Itilaf al Khair' is an umbrella organisation of charities which was proscribed by Israel in 2002 and designated as a terrorist organisation by the USA in 2008 because of the fact that it provides financial and material support for Hamas. It is headed by the notorious Muslim Brotherhood hate preacher and endorser of Palestinian suicide bombings Yusuf al Qaradawi and the Turkish organisation known as the IHH whose members were responsible for the violence aboard the Mavi Marmara is also a member.
The British charity 'Interpal' was ordered by the Charity Commission in 2009 to sever its ties with the Union of Good if it wished to retain its charitable status. One man who has long-standing ties to Interpal – which also organised and carried out the recent 'Miles of Smiles' convoy to Gaza – is Mohammed Sawalha. Sawalha was recently named as one of the organisers of the current flotilla and his well-known Hamas links once more brought to public attention. Of course long-time CiF Watch readers will doubtless remember that we reported on Sawalha's organisational connections to the 2010 flotilla eight days before the violent events took place, including the fact that in January 2010 he had stated that "the confrontation will be directly with the Zionist enemy itself on the high seas". Here is Sawalha speaking at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event in London in January of this year.
Following the violent outcome of the last flotilla in 2010 some Western activists and journalists tried to continue to claim that the IHH members involved were innocent 'humanitarian aid workers' but evidence gathered from the flotilla boats themselves shows that the violent actions of the Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood-linked activists were in fact pre-planned. Paul Larudee, a founder of one of the flotilla's organising bodies – the 'Free Gaza' movement – even went so far as to express his admiration for their violent actions into writing, invoking something akin to cultural relativism along the way.
"I practice nonviolence, so that is the way I resist, but it's not necessarily for everyone. A number of passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara, who were from thirty-two different nations, responded with their hands, feet, and whatever objects were at hand. I admire them for doing so; they knew that Israel has a reputation for disproportionate response."
The emerging picture of the 'Freedom Flotilla 2′ is of a repeat of last year's scenario in which a minority of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamist activists turned the flotilla organisers' claims to being a 'non-violent' mission of transportation of humanitarian aid into a mockery. This should deeply worry those flotilla passengers who really do believe in 'passive resistance' and those members of the press currently writing and tweeting that line of defence on behalf of the flotilla. It is perfectly clear that the remaining two main organisations behind the flotilla – the ECESG and 'Free Gaza' - actually condone and support violent acts against Israeli soldiers.
The IDF has what it termed in a briefing this afternoon "solid intelligence" that some passengers aboard the flotilla may be carrying sulphuric acid with the aim of causing burns and other injuries to Israeli soldiers charged with halting the boats. It is the responsibility of any other passengers who do not condone such actions to ensure that they do not take place. If they fail to stop them, they will also be complicit – not only in criminal violence, but in knowingly allowing themselves to be used as 'non-violent' fig leaves for sympathisers and members of a terrorist organisation and its mentors.
· 'Freedom Flotilla 2′ – Staying Pointless. (cifwatch.com)
· Flotilla 'Publicity Stunt' Update, 2 (cifwatch.com)
· Flotilla Publicity Stunt Update (cifwatch.com)