Ligue Islamique Interculturelle De Belgique (LIIB)
www.liib.be (old website, currently inactive)
Orientation: Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood
Fields of operation: pro-Hamas support and advocacy
The Ligue Islamique Interculturelle de Belgique (LIIB) is one of the member organizations of FIOE. A 2001-2002 report by the Belgian Parliamentary Intelligence Committee identified the LIIB as one of several Muslim Brotherhood organizations in Belgium operating under other names.
The LIIB was founded in February 1997 by Monsif Chatar and Karim Azzouzi, the last LIIB president and its current president respectively, and two others. In June 1998, upon the dissolution of the organization, its remaining assets were transferred to the Europe Trust. Europe Trust is a UK-based asset holding [awqaf] trust connected with senior Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated figures living in Europe. In addition, an Islamic youth organization called “Spaces Cultural Muslim Youth” was created within the LIIB. In February 2006, the LIIB added Franck Hensch as vice president/secretary and Beji Denguir as treasurer. Hensch was listed as the secretary of an Islamic culture association in Verviers, and in March 2005 he was appointed secretary for Al-Aqsa Belgium. Hensch was removed as vice president/secretary and replaced by Karim Azzouzi.
A 2001 report of the Belgian parliamentary Intelligence Committee reportedly states:
“The Ligue Islamique Interculturelle organizes conferences regularly where it invites Tariq Ramadan and his brother Hani Ramadan (who are both affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood). They note that the moderate speeches which Tariq Ramadan always gives in public do not correspond to the remarks which he makes in restricted Islamic media, where they are definitely more critical toward Western Society.”
The LIIB is known to have sponsored a November 2006 conference with Hani Ramadan, and in November 2007, as noted above, the LIIB headquarters had a poster for yet other conferences with Hani Ramadan in its window. The LIIB has also been involved with a number of FIOE activities, including a 2003 joint event with the international, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated youth group FEMYSO, signing a joint petition with 24 other FIOE affiliates, organizing conferences with and sponsoring several speakers from the FIOE French affiliate.287
The LIIB was a signatory to a document signed in 2008 by 100 NGOs affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, calling to lift the blockade on Gaza. The document described Israel as acting brutally and barbarically toward the Palestinians and conducting a systematic murderous policy by means of the siege.288
The Ligue des Musulmans de Belgique (LMB)
Orientation: Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood
Fields of operation: Islamist advocacy
The Ligue des Musulmans de Belgique (LMB) was created in February 2006, apparently as a successor to the LIIB. According to its statutes, the LMB is a member of FIOE, whose assets on dissolution go to the aforementioned Europe Trust. Its founding document was signed by Karim Azzouzi and others, at least some of whom are known affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood. Since its creation, the LMB has been a signatory to several online petitions concerning Islamist issues, such as the Danish cartoon crisis. In September 2007, the LMB hosted a meeting in Brussels that brought together over 400 Islamist organizations to sign a code of conduct developed by the FIOE for Muslims who live in Europe.289
Like the LIIB before it, the LMB organizes conferences that host prominent Islamist figures. In November 2014, prominent Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood preacher Tareq Al-Suwaidan, known for his illustrated, anti-Semitic book, The Jews: The Illustrated Encyclopedia, was to speak at an LMB-organized festival, but his entry to Belgium was denied.290 In August 2014, the LMB was among several dozens of organizations that took part in a “national demonstration” to end the blockade on Gaza.291
Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR)
Orientation: Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood
Fields of operation: pro-Hamas support and advocacy, political lobbying
The Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) seems to have been in operation until 2013; it was founded and operated by senior affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood in several European countries:292
- Arafat Madi Shoukri (who for many years lived in Britain and served as executive director for the Hamas-aligned Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), as well as Chair of the European Campaign To End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG). In 2014, Madi moved to Qatar, where he currently serves as head of communications at Al Jazeera Media Network).
- Anouar Gharbi (Switzerland/France)
- Mazen Kahel (France)
- Arafet Boujemaa (Britain/Tunisia)
- Amin Abu Rashid (Holland)
- Mohammad Hannoun (Italy)
- Sameh A. Habib (Gaza)
- Rami Abduh (Gaza and Switzerland, formerly a student in Britain).
Most of the CEPR’s activities focused on lobbying at the European Parliament and organizing delegations of MEPs and members of syndicates and trade unions to visit Gaza (although visits to the pre-Arab Spring Syria and Egypt and to Tunisia under the Muslim Brotherhood’s lead were also organized) “so that parliamentarians can witness first-hand the situation confronting the Palestinians.”293
In most cases, the participants in the various delegations either belong to far-left parties, such as Helmut Scholtz from the German Left-wing Die Linke party, or prioritize the Palestinian issue in their personal agendas. Some have been known for their pro-Hamas opinions, including Alexandra Thein from the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Germany. Thein is married to an Israeli Arab294 and serves as a CEPR trustee.295 It should also be noted that most visits to Gaza included meetings with the Hamas-led government.
The Al-Aqsa Foundation / Akshaum
Orientation: Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Hamas
Fields of operation: Islamist charitable causes, pro-Hamas advocacy
The Al-Aqsa Foundation was an Islamist foundation based in Germany, which operated branches in Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and several Middle Eastern countries, and was designated by the U.S. Treasury in 2003 for Hamas funding.296 It was part of the Union of Good (UoG),297which was designated in 2008 by the U.S. Treasury for its part in funding Hamas.298 The Al-Aqsa Foundation had been banned by several countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, and its founders and senior figures were connected to other charities known for Hamas funding and Muslim Brotherhood affiliations.
Al-Aqsa Humanitaire, the Belgian branch, was founded in 1993 and is currently based in Brussels. It was first registered in Verviers, an economically distressed municipality of approximately 52,000 residents located in the Belgian province of Liège and close to the cities of Aachen (Germany) and Heerlen (the Netherlands), where the Al-Aqsa branches in those countries were first registered. The original signatories to the Al-Aqsa Belgium registration were Mahmoud Amr, who had been described by Israel as a “senior Hamas figure in Germany” and was also linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed M. El Hajjaji, Nimeh Amro, Bassem Hatahet, Abdallah Larhouasli, Ali Sonlu, and Mostafa M. Busif.299 Busif has been linked to the Algerian GIA.300 In October 2004, the U.S. Treasury said that Al-Aqsa Humanitaire was “reportedly linked” to the Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA), which was connected to both Hamas and al-Qaeda.
Since 2001, Al-Aqsa Humanitaire underwent a series of organizational changes, which included the move of its registered office to a new location, the changing of its registered board, and changing of its name to Aksahum (the name in Arabic remained the same). Currently, both the Foundation’s website and Facebook pages promote the third MuslimExpo festival,301 which took place in the city of Charleroi between February 6-7, 2016. Among the featured speakers were Muslim Brotherhood leading figure Tariq Ramadan and Michel Collon, a journalist affiliated with the tiny far-left (Marxist) Workers Party of Belgium (WPB) and member of the anti-imperialist 2005 conference, Axis for Peace. Collon escorted Omar Barghouti in an April 2013 conference in Brussels University at which he spoke.302