A New Jihad Flotilla initiative to Gaza
by Jonathan Fighel
International Institute for Counter-Terrorism
July 4, 2010
The Palestinian-Italian news website (InfoPal) has reported on a meeting between the acting Turkish Ambassador to Italy and representatives of the Italian Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support organization in Italy. According to the report, on June 30th a meeting was held at the Embassy of the Turkish Republic between the acting ambassador, Lutfu Semih Turgut, Mohammad Hannoun (the president of API ( Association of Palestinians in Italy), Iz a-din el-Zir the (president of Union Islamic Communities in Italy),representatives of the House of Islamic culture and other Italian Muslim associations, journalists as well as Angela Lano and Manolo Luppichini, participants in the Freedom Flotilla that was intercepted by the Israeli navy on the night of 31 May 2010.[i]
Mohammad Hannoun, the president of API thanked the Turkish government for its support to the Flotilla and travelers deported from Israel, and announced the construction of the Freedom Flotilla 2, which will consist of about 20 ships and 5,000 passengers. "I'm ready with six ships – we will start in September". [ii]
It should be noted that the Association of Palestinians in Italy is the same organization as "Associazione Benefica Di Solidarieta' Con Il Popolo Palestinese" (ABSPP), the Italian "Union of Good" affiliated organization that maintains close and long standing relationship with Hamas leadership in Damascus the Gaza. Through its website, the ABSPP calls for donations to the Freedom Flotilla, at Banca Popolare Etica, account payable association charity "Solidrietà with the Palestinian people" bank account: 131,000 headed ABSPP ONLUS, IBAN: IT92N0501801400000000131000.[iii]
The Union of Good
The Union of Good is a coalition of Islamic charities that provides financial support to both the Hamas "social" infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities designated by the USA. It is headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, and most of the trustees and member organizations are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood. The Union of Good and the Italian ABSPP were banned by Israel in 2002 and Sheikh Qaradawi appears on the US prosecution list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trail.[iv]
The Union of Good, as a pro-Hamas radical Islamic umbrella worldwide coalition is committed and involved in the Hamas campaign to break the Israeli siege on Gaza. The Turkish IHH which, is part of the Union of Good, was set as the leading, prominent front organization among the coalition organizations participating in the 31 May flotilla to the Gaza Strip. The Turkish IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi, IHH, "humanitarian relief fund") is known to be a radical Islamic organization, which was established in 1992 and formally registered in Istanbul in 1995. The IHH (outlawed by Israel in 2008) is part of the Union of Good, who was assigned to lead the Jihadi violent flotilla to Gaza.
The relationship between ABSPP (API) and the Union of Good
The Italian ABSPP is active within the "Union of Good" as part of Hamas global fund-raising array. Since the early 1990s, Hamas succeeded in the gradual establishment of a financial array dispersed worldwide intended to assure the flow of money to fund its far-reaching activities in the Territories and abroad. The fund raising activity is secretive and discrete, as much as possible with regard to its link to Hamas.
ABSPP is an Italian charity committed in its activities to support the Palestinians in general but mainly to Hamas as a pro-Hamas oriented organization. The organization is directed by Mohamed Hannoun and is based in via bozaneto 19/1, Genova, Italy with offices in Rome and Milan.[v] Analysis of materials seized during IDF searches in offices and facilities of several Hamas charities acting as "humanitarian" front organizations in the West Bank proved that ABSPP was involved in providing funds and material support through these Hamas front charitable organization to suicide bomber's families in the West Bank.
Materials seized in the Jenin Zakat Committee, the Hebron Islamic Charitable Society (Hebron ICS), the Bethlehem Orphan Care Society, the Qalqilya Zakat Committee, and the Society for the Quran and Sunnah established the fact that they acted as Hamas front organizations, (banned by Israel). Letters, memos, bank records, receipt, and other materials proved their connections with ABSPP who provided donations and financial support to Hamas fronts. The funds transferred to the above mentioned Hamas charities were generated by ABSPP within the framework of the Union of Good as an umbrella organization. The money was also distributed in monthly payments to families of suicide bombers, prisoners and Hamas terrorists as a means of rewarding them for their terrorist efforts and as a "social security" program to the families.
The Hamas charities in the West Bank were focal points of interest in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trail the USA. The HLF was proved to be part of Hamas effort in the USA, which was actively committed to strengthen the Hamas political influence in the West Bank and Gaza and promoting its radical Islamic agenda by providing economic and social aid through its network of charities. The US Department of Justice indictment has identified the above mentioned entities as Hamas controlled organization. On November 24, 2008, a jury convicted HLF and five of its leaders on charges of providing material support to Hamas charities in the West Bank and Gaza. As DOJ stated, "The government presented evidence at trial that, as the U.S. began to scrutinize individuals and entities in the U.S. who were raising funds for terrorist groups in the mid-1990s, the HLF intentionally hid its financial support for Hamas behind the guise of charitable donations. HLF and these five defendants provided approximately $12.4 million in support to Hamas and its goal of creating an Islamic Palestinian state by eliminating the State of Israel through violent jihad."[vi]
ABSPP involvement in the violent Jihad Flotilla of 31 May 2010
The ABSPP was involved in organizing the group of Italians that participated in the violent Jihadi Gaza flotilla on 31 May 2010. At this point, it is known that at least three ABSPP activists participated in the violent events on board the "Mavi Marmara" ship: Angela Lano, Manolo Luppicchini and Muin Qaraqe.[vii]
The involvement of the Italian pro-Hamas ABSPP is well-known from recent events. In 2008, after the Israeli "Operation Cast Lead" in Gaza, it was reported by an Italian pro-Palestinian website that Dr. Mohammad Hannoun, head of the Palestinian Coalition in Italy, a founding member of the "European Committee Against the Siege", together with Monia Benini, the president of (Per il Bene Comune - PBC) the Union of Good branch in Italy, and the former Italian parliament senator Fernando Rossi have met Hamas leader, Khaled Mashal, in Damascus.[viii] Monia Benini and Fernando Rossi, who were planned to take part in the recent Gaza flotilla, have arrived Cyprus but did not board the "Mavi Marmara" ship due to the Cypriot governmental decision to ban the ship from docking in Cyprus ports.
The Italian politician Fernando Rossi, formerly a senator of the Italian republic, now a counselor for the governor of Ferrara, visited Gaza twice in 2008 and conducted meetings with Hamas officials and leaders. Senator Rossi, a former supporter of Arafat and the PLO has shifted his support to Hamas after the "democratic" elections held in Gaza in which Hamas as a terror organization has established a radical Islamic de facto government through a violent military coup. After the trip to Gaza, Rossi stated:" "Israel wanted to scare people by bombardments and to make them abandon Hamas. But they got the opposite – Hamas appeared to be the winner, and its supporters became even stronger. One could see pictures of crossed arms all around the place as a reconciliation sign of Fatah and Hamas."[ix]
The ABSPP, similar to IHH, is a pro-Palestinian Hamas oriented organization within the "Union of Good" known to serve Hamas goals and acts as a Hamas proxy, which appears to be committed to actively promote the Hamas agenda through its activities to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza. According to reports, it appears that Hamas is determined to continue in its intention to challenge again the Israeli decision makers and its navy by using the naval facet and dispatch a new convoy of ships towards Gaza. Despite the Israeli alleviations of checkpoints in Gaza (as a political concession to the USA and to international public opinion) after the violent confrontation on board the resent flotilla, Hamas wishes to continue its naval Jihad. The basic Israeli assumption that greater flow of good and supplies via checkpoints in Gaza would diminish Hamas motivation to continue its naval aid operations probably seems to have been an Israeli faulty assumption!
Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader, during his meeting with Mohammed Hannoun president of API (ABSPP).[x]
Notes:[i] http://www.infopal.it/leggi.php?id=14890 . (Accessed on 2 July 2010).
[iii] http://www.abspp.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22&Itemid=16〈=it . (Accessed on 2 July 2010).
[iv]"Individuals who participated in fund-raising activities on
behalf of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development" http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/HLF/US_v_HLF_Unindicted_Coconspirators.pdf
[v] http://www.abspp.org/ .See also http://www.abspp.org/index.php?option=com_aicontactsafe&view=message&layout=message&pf=1&Itemid=6〈=it
[vii] See interview with Muin Qaraqe http://www.infonodo.org/node/25611