Muhammad Sawalha is a senior Hamas operative living in London that continues participating in Hamas-supported political activities
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Muhammad Kazem Sawalha, a senior Hamas operative living in London, continues his participation in Hamas political activities for recently participated in a conference in Istanbul which opposed Mahmoud Abbas’ dissolution of the Palestinian Legislative Council (against which Hamas is waging a political, propaganda and legal campaign).
During the conference Muhammad Sawalha kept a low profile, in ITIC assessment to keep from drawing fire from the British media (as occurred when he was part of a Hamas delegation to Moscow in September 2017).
Sawalha lowered his public activity profile in Britain after his trip to Moscow was made public. One of the things he did was to quit the board of trustees of the north London Finsbury Park Mosque, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas’ parent movement).
He quit even though the inquiry carried out by the British Charity Commission following his participation in the Hamas delegation to Moscow found he had committed no offense because Hamas is not designated as a terrorist group in Britain (only its military wing is banned, as opposed to the United States, where Hamas as an organization is designated as a terrorist group).
On September 19, 2017, he was part of a senior Hamas delegation to Moscow, representing the West Bank. On January 9, 2019, he participated, along with other Hamas operatives, in a pro-Hamas political conference held in Istanbul, sponsored by a the International Legal Coalition for Palestine (ILCP). The conference examined the legal aspects of the dispersal of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Legislative Council, a move Hamas strongly opposes and against which it is waging a political, propaganda and legal campaign.
The conference in Istanbul was one of the events where participants have opposed the PA decision to dissolve the Legislative Council, with Hamas involvement. It circumvented the PLO and joined Palestinian figures in the “dispersal” who oppose Mahmoud Abbas and included Jordanian legal experts involved in the Palestinian arena.
At least three Hamas operatives participated in the conference: Muhammad Sawalha, who lives in London; Muhammad Faraj al-Ghoul, from the Gaza Strip, chairman of the legal committee in the Legislative Council and minister of justice in Isma’il Haniyeh’s government; and Marwan Abu Ras, from the Gaza Strip, a cleric and preacher, a member of the Legislative Council and chairman the Association of Religious Scholars in Palestine (his son, Issam, was a Hamas’ military wing operative and was killed in an Israeli Air Force attack in the Gaza Strip in 2005). In addition, two Jordanian lawyers participated in the conference to give it a professional legal status.
In ITIC assessment, at the conference in Istanbul Muhammad Sawalha made an effort to keep a low profile to keep from attracting fire from the British media on the grounds of involvement in pro-Hamas activity (given what happened after his visit to Moscow). For that reason his name was not mentioned in news items about the conference.
He also sat with is back to the camera, far from the table reserved for the more important participants. The ITIC has no information about any speech he might have made. Al-Ghoul and Abu Ras exploited the opportunity to meet with Bülent Yildirim, head of the Turkish organization IHH, the dominant figure of the Mavi Marmara flotilla. Sawalha apparently was not present at the meeting, in ITIC assessment to keep from being conspicuous.
The Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, which was notorious during the 1990s because of Abu Hamze, its jihadist imam (an al-Qaeda supporter who was extradited to the United States, where he is serving a term of life imprisonment). After radical Muslim jihadists took control of the mosque its board of trustees was fired and a new board was appointed, composed of members from groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain. Since 2010 Muhammad Sawalha had been one of the mosque’s six trustees. After it was made known that he was a member of Hamas’ political bureau and had participated in the visit to Russia (October 2017), a inquiry was begun against him by the British Charity Commission.
The inquiry found that Muhammad Sawalha had committed no offense because in Britain Hamas is not designated as a terrorist group (only Hamas’ military wing is banned). However, he quit the Finsbury Part Mosque board of trustees, allegedly long proposing to resign, “…due to his intensive work engagements” (The Times, January 11, 2019). In the wake of the revelation of his trip to Moscow and the inquiry of the British Charity Commission, he seems to have decided to lower his public profile in activities associated with other institutions (he has resigned from the boards of directors and NGOs affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood).
Muhammad Sawalha often appears on al-Hiwar TV, a satellite TV channel operating in London and affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Involved in operating the channel are Azzam Tamimi, a Muslim Brotherhood operative who found a haven in Britain in the 1990s; and Zaher al-Birawi, a Hamas operative who is a producer and commentator (in addition to his activities in institutions affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and in anti-Israel activities).
Source: Terrorism Info