Le Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens – France (CBSP)
Orientation: Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood
Fields of operation: “direct action,” pro-Hamas support and advocacy,BDS promoting
Le Comité de Bienfaisance et de Solidarité avec la Palestine was founded in Nancy on March 20, 1990. In 2001, it changed its name to the Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP).
The CBSP’s head office is in Paris, and it operates branches in Lille, Lyon, and Marseille. At least since October 2007, the CBSP has been a “partner organization” of the Union des Organisations Islamiques en France (UOIF),141 an organization usually regarded as representing the Muslim Brotherhood in France and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s European umbrella – the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE).142 Media reports indicate that the CBSP has operated a booth at the annual meeting of the UOIF since at least 2002.143 The CBSP has been a founding organization of the 101 Days Campaign, the earlier name for the Union of Good (UoG),144 an umbrella of European Islamist charities designated in the United States for funding Hamas.145 The CBSP itself has been designated by the U.S. Treasury since August 2003 for funding Hamas.146
In addition, seven individuals from CBSP participated in the May 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla.147 These included Salah Berguabi, head of the CBSP Lyon office, Miloud Zenasni, head of its Marseille office,148 Mouloud Bouzidi, director of the Lille office,149 specializing in “production control mechanical engineer, industrial computing,”150 Youssef Benderbal, CBSP spokesperson or Communications Director, and Ahmed Oumimoun, head of CBSP’s Paris office. In a June 2010 interview, Youssef Benderbal stated that the CBSP had provided financial support for the first Gaza Flotilla.151
Throughout the years, the CBSP has gathered and distributed millions of dollars in the region,152 collected mainly in mosques and Islamic centers, focusing on the Palestinian and North African communities in France. Its activities include sponsorships of groups and individuals, food aid, sponsoring health and educational issues, other sponsorships of economic development, social and leisure activities, and emergency assistance, at least some of it provided to the European Muslim Brotherhood’s initiated Miles of Smiles convoys.153
In France, CBSP activists occasionally take part in pro-BDS demonstrations.154 Some CBSP leading figures are also involved in Islamist bodies and networks in Europe.
- Khaled Muhammad Ahmad al-Shouli (Secretary-General): Palestinian media and the current CBSP website identify Khaled Al-Shouli as secretary-general of the CBSP.155 Al-Shouli apparently lives in Sierentz, a small village north-west of Basel, Switzerland, close to the Swiss border. According to the Swiss Trade Register, since 2003, he has also been the company director of the Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP), the Swiss counterpart of the CBSP, which underwent a liquidation status in May 2015.156 In June 1998, Al-Shouli introduced the ASP to an annual summer camp organized by Baumherzigkeit, a Swiss Islamic publication. His presentation was preceded by that of the late Ahmed Huber,157 a Swiss neo-Nazi and Islamic convert who for many years cooperated with the Brotherhood affiliates in Europe, and was one of the founders of their Bank Al-Taqwa. In addition, Al-Shouli serves as “legal network coordinator” of the Partners for Peace and Development for Palestinians (PPDP), a closely related Muslim Brotherhood network, and he is also part of the leadership of the One Justice Organization (OJO), a pro-Palestinian advocacy group. In December 2014, Al-Shouli claimed in an interview on the UK-based, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Al-Hiwar TV station that he played an active role in the initial court ruling that could have led the European Union to remove Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations.158
- Zuhair Mahmood (President): News reports from June 2001 identify Mahmood as the president or “head” of the CBSP.159 Mahmood, a real estate businessman, is of Kurdish-Iraqi origin.160 He came to France in 1983 as part of a cooperation program between Paris and Iraq under Saddam Hussein and eventually obtained a doctorate in nuclear physics at the University of Strasbourg. He claims to have been an opponent of Saddam Hussein, and following a religious conversion related to the implications of his work, he said that he became a “dissident in exile.”161 A French journalist reports that Mahmood was also a member of a youth group called the Groupement islamique en France (GIF), affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.162 He was one of two founders of the aforementioned Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), generally regarded as representing the Muslim Brotherhood in France.
- In 1990, Mahmood was one of the two co-founders of the Islamist training facility known as the European Institute of Human Sciences (EIHS) and has served as its director.163 EIHS was established as a joint initiative of the UOIF and FIOE. In October 1995, two of Mahmood’s daughters were expelled from the high school in Nevers because they refused to remove their headscarves that they had worn since the beginning of the school year. In January 1996, the two girls filed a lawsuit claiming “abuse of power.”164 Mahmood himself was mentioned in the media several times. In 2003 he was elected to the French Council to represent Islam in the general assembly elections for that body.165 In July 2006, he was one of the featured participants at the Muslims of Europe conference held in Istanbul, which also featured a large number of Brotherhood-affiliated leaders.166
- Ahmed Oumimoun (Director): A 2010 media report identifies Oumimoun as head of the CBSP Paris office.167 In June 2010, Oumimoun drew media attention when he returned to France after being expelled from Israel along with several other CBSP leaders following their participation in the first Freedom Flotilla.168 A French Islamic portal also identifies Oumimoun as the president of Innocents France, which was originally registered in February 2008 as a voluntary organization.
Other leading figures are Mazen Kahel and Ali Jbara, the director of publications.169
In August 2003, the U.S. government added CBSP and the Swiss ASP to the list of Specially Designated Terrorist entities, stating they were both primary fundraisers for Hamas in France and Switzerland.170 A spokesman for the CBSP vehemently denied that the organization was affiliated with Hamas or supported terrorism, calling the accusations “surprising and shocking.”171 Nevertheless, following this act, Australia and Jordan also took action against the CBSP and other organizations identified by the United States as involved with the funding of Hamas.172 In the following years, there were several reports in the French media regarding the ongoing investigations.173 In January 2006, French media reported that CBSP had accused the director for international relations in Paris of the Simon Wiesenthal Center of “slander and defamation” for accusing the CBSP of helping to finance Hamas.174 On March 8, 2007, the director was ordered by the French court to pay a symbolic €1 fine in this lawsuit.175
A July 2007 Wall Street Journal article reported on a method of illicitly transferring funds known as “trade-based money laundering” and cited an example that encompasses a French investigation into charities, said to involve the CBSP as well. According to the report, the authorities allegedly found that a charity “has been buying large lots of commodities for delivery to the Palestinian territories. While much of the goods constitute legitimate aid, a portion of the shipments ultimately ends up with terror groups in the Palestinian territories … French and Israeli police are scrutinizing several commodities transactions involving goods either paid for or purchased on behalf of the Comite de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens, or the Committee for Palestinian Welfare and Aid.”176
Mouloud Bouzidi – Director of CBSP, in Lille,177was one of the organizers of the freedom flotilla in 2010.178 A fluent French speaker, he studied at the Université de sciences et technologies de Lille and University of Algiers in Paris.179
On December 17, 2014, the General Court of the European Union (EGC) announced that Hamas would be taken off the EU list of terrorist organizations (Hamas had been listed since December 27, 2001) unless satisfactory evidence is provided that it should remain there. The Court emphasized that its decision does not indicate its consideration of the fundamental definition of Hamas as a terrorist organization, and the European Union also said it intends to appeal against the decision.180 The Court kept the sanctions against Hamas for at least three months (up to March 17, 2015) or until the completion of the appeal procedure, during which further evidence by the member-states could be presented that would help include Hamas once again in the list. Khaled Al-Shouli of the CBSP, who was active in the efforts to remove Hamas from the EU list, stressed that if an appeal against the decision is not made within three months, it would mean that the freezing of the Hamas funds will be stopped, Hamas will be able to open offices in every European country and every one of its members will be eligible for a visa to Europe.181
Khaled Al-Shouli was interviewed on the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated, London-based Al-Hiwar TV channel, where he explained that these proceedings were made by a group of lawyers commissioned by Hamas’s politburo.182 The group was led by Liliane Glock, a criminal lawyer from the city of Nancy and a human-rights activist. Liliane Glock also represented nine French citizens who had been on board the Mavi Marmara ship and filed a complaint against Israel in the International Criminal Court in The Hague alleging war crimes and crimes against humanity. She represented the plaintiffs both in the complaint in France and in the complaint in the ICC in France.183 In 2014, Glock represented the French serial killer Francis Heaulme in another trial for murdering two children.184 Glock has close ties to Stanley Cohen – a Jewish-American lawyer, one of the lawyers who file charges against political Israeli figures who go abroad.185
On December, 24, 2014, the Palestinian news portal Dunya al-Watan reported that Hamas’ Gaza legislator Dr. Ahmad Bahr sent a letter to Liliane Glock and Khaled al-Shouli to thank them for the role they played in removing Hamas from the terror list and also thanked al-Shouli in a phone call.187
According to Khaled Al-Shouli, another member of this group is Philippe Favre – secretary-general of One Justice Organization (OJO), a top lawyer in the International Coalition for Trying Israeli War Criminals, and former chairman of the Belgian Human Rights League (LDHB).188
A fourth member of this group according to Khaled Al-Shouli is French attorney Gilles Devers, best known for filing a court case to the ICC against Israel concerning the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict.
One Justice Organization (OJO)
Orientation: Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood
Fields of operation: “direct action,” pro-Hamas support and advocacy, legal
As reported by Israeli sources, One Justice Organization (OJO) is comprised of lawyers from 30 countries, including the United States, France, and the Arab countries, with branches in Paris and Geneva. Its mission is to prosecute Israel, its government, and military commanders for so-called “war crimes.” This probably has to do with Hamas efforts in the legal field, which started immediately after Operation Cast Lead with the launch of the Central Committee for Documenting and Prosecuting Israeli War Criminals, or Al-Tawthiq [i.e. documentation – affiliated to the justice ministry in the Hamas government in Gaza].189 The organization’s secretary general is Philippe Favre, one of the top lawyers in a group called the International Coalition to Try Israel for War Crimes (ICAWC), which aims to approach national courts having universal jurisdiction, file Individual lawsuits on behalf of those with dual citizenship, file lawsuits for aggression on European property built in territories under occupation, issue demands to stop Israel-EU partnership agreements, and approach Switzerland for issues connected to the Geneva Convention and other European tribunals. The organization has already held several conventions in Geneva and Cape Town. Khaled al-Shouli has been described as executive director of OJO.
In October 2009, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Partners for Peace and Development Palestine (PPDP) listed OJO as one of its partner organizations, along with other organizations that are part of the network of the International Campaign to Lift the Blockade on Gaza.190 OJO is currently listed as one of the organizations participating in a complaint against Israel made to the International Criminal Court.191 One of OJO’s lawyers in Geneva (Rida Ajami) is counsel for Hani Ramadan, a top figure affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Switzerland.192
Commission Arabe des Droits Humains (ACHR)
In Arabic: Al- Lajna Al-Arabiyya li-Huquq Al-Insan
Fields of operation: human rights
The ACHR was founded on January 17, 1998 by 15 activists from around the Arab world, and bases its work on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESC), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Formally registered in Paris, two-thirds of its members live in the Arab world and the remaining third in Europe.
The ACHR has a 15-member board of directors led by President Violette Daguerre from Lebanon. The board includes Tunisian human rights activist and interim president of Tunisia Moncef Marzouki, an intellectual belonging to the Arab Left, who connected himself with the Muslim Brotherhood by promoting their human rights in the Arab world.
Haytham Manna, a medical doctor and intellectual originally from Syria, helped create the ACHR, becoming its spokesperson. Manna resigned from his role as ACHR spokesperson, while remaining a “non-office-holding” member, when in 2011 he helped found and take a leading role in the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change in Syria.193
The ACHR used to hold a special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).194 In June 2008, Algerian human rights lawyer and activist Rachid Mesli spoke at a UN event in Geneva on behalf of the ACHR. Algeria complained that Mesli had been charged with terrorism in 1999, and on January 26, 2009, representatives from the United Kingdom, Egypt, Sudan, Qatar, and Algeria, along with other states, voted 18 to 0 (plus 1 abstention) to suspend the ACHR from its membership in ECOSOC.195
According to NGO Monitor, the ACHR labeled Israel in 2009 “barbaric” and accused it of “despotism” and “operating a concentration camp” in Gaza.196 It is headed by the aforementioned Violette Daguerre.197
Originally from Lebanon, Daguerre acquired her PhD in Social Psychology in France.198 The Egyptian security forces broke into the hotel where she stayed in 2007 because she had collected material on the subject of the State’s detaining of Muslim Brotherhood activists and removing them to military courts of state security instead of civilian courts.199
Haytham Manna was also involved in other organizations and initiatives after leaving the ACHR. He served as president of an Islamist human rights organization called the International Bureau for Humanitarian NGOs, IBH [Al-Maktab Al-Duwali li-l-Jam’iyyat Al-Insaniyya wa-l-Khayriyya] that currently seems to be inactive.201 Abdel al-Rahman al-Nuaimi, a board member of IBH,202 was designated by the United States at the end of 2013 as an al-Qaeda financier.203 Al- Nuaimi also served as president of the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign (GAAC), a main international umbrella organization that brings under its wings Salafists, Salafist-Jihadists, Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas leaders, some of whom are designated terrorists in the United States and Europe.
Manna was also part of the International Coalition for Trying Israeli War Criminals (ICAWC), a legal coalition of Islamist and far-left activists and jurists (both Western and Arab) that aimed to bring claims against Israel. In 2009, for example, following an investigation reportedly carried out by ICAWC or its affiliates, Manna told a news conference in Gaza that during Operation Cast Lead Israel used uranium. Manna said that samples were collected from the Gaza Strip to check if they contained prohibited weapons and sent to labs in Europe. Some of the results showed that “the amount of depleted uranium in the areas of the samples was more than 75 tons and this is a very dangerous percentage for the overcrowded places in Gaza.”204
In addition, as a Syrian dissident, Manna has been involved in the attempts to bring democracy to the country.