(Picture from Hamas’ Palestine-Info website, July 21, 2007).
1. Muhammad Kazem Sawalha is a senior Hamas activist who publicly supports jihad and was formerly involved in both political and operational Hamas activities in Judea and Samaria, including running the terrorist operative infrastructure. He was wanted by the Israeli security services but in October 1990 used forced documents to escape to Jordan, and from there went to Britain. In Britain he has been involved in intensive anti-Israeli activities within the Islamic community, with the Muslim Brotherhood and with British organizations providing support for the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip.
2. According to an interview, he played an important role in dispatching aid to the Gaza Strip with the participation of pro-Hamas British MP George Galloway (whose convoy was prevented by the Egyptian government from entering and Gaza Strip, and who was declared persona non grata by Egypt). Muhammad Sawalha now claims that he is involved in preparations to dispatch another aid convoy to the Gaza Strip, this time by sea, in order to confront Israel and not Egypt.
3. Muhammad Sawalha’s involvement in dispatching convoys to the Gaza Strip is another example of the anti-Israeli pro-Hamas propaganda activity taking place in Britain. Hamas activity in Britain also includes legal measures being pursued by Hamas, such as the initiatives, with the help of local lawyers, to issue warrants for the arrest of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.1
Interview with Muhammad Sawalha Posted on Hezbollah’s Website
4. Muhammad Sawalha was recently interviewed by Al-Intiqad, Hezbollah’s website, where he elaborated his plan to dispatch another aid convoy to the Gaza Strip. The interview took place at an international conference in support of terrorism called "The international forum to support the resistance [i.e., terrorism],” which opened in Beirut on December 17. It was attended by Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mashaal, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and radical Islamic sheikh Yussuf Qardawi. Muhammad Sawalha’s main points were the following:
A. Preparations had begun for dispatching another aid convoy to the Gaza Strip "to break the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip.” It would arrive by sea at the end of March 2010. He said that the plan was "for at least six or seven ships to sail simultaneously from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus directly to the port of Gaza.”
B. He complained of the treatment Lifeline-3 had received from the Egyptian government, saying it led to an "undesirable confrontation” [with the Egyptians]. He added that "the next time the confrontation will be directly with the Zionist enemy itself on the high seas.”
C. The Lifeline convoy was trying, he said, "to gather all the ‘free people in the world’ and to unite them in the service of ‘the resistance’ [i.e., terrorism] and the ‘right of people’ to oppose occupation.” He said that 540 members of the Lifeline convoy from 17 countries had entered the Gaza Strip.
D. Muhammad Sawalha noted the importance of supporting the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the [de facto] Hamas administration. He said that "the idea of the resistance [i.e., terrorism] exists and is well preserved [in the Gaza Strip]. The idea exists on the ground and within the entire [Muslim] nation, which is encouraging for the future.”
The Arabic version of an interview with Muhammad Sawalha
on Hezbollah’s Al-Intiqad website (January 17, 2010).
Portrait of Muhammad Kazem Sawalha
(Picture from Hamas’ Palestine-Info website, July 21, 2007).
5. Muhammad Kazem Rashid Maruf Sawalha (Abu Abada) was born in Tubas in Samaria in 1961. Until he fled to Britain in 1990, his activities in Judea and Samaria included the following:
A. In 1980 he began studying in the religion department of Amman University. In 1988 he returned to Judea and Samaria and lived in Al-Bireh until he fled to Britain in 1990. He taught at a religious school in Al-Ram (near Jerusalem) and later in the Islamic college (Kuliyat al-Da’wah) in Jerusalem and in Beit Hanina (near Jerusalem).
B. Sawalha was a senior Hamas activist in Judea and Samaria, involved in establishing Hamas’ Judea and Samaria headquarters at the end of 1989-beginning of 1990, and had connections with Hamas headquarters in the Gaza Strip. He also instructed regional Hamas commanders to set up military networks. When his Hamas military-terrorist infrastructure in Judea and Samaria was exposed, he was declared a wanted operative by the Israeli security forces.
C. His activities in Judea and Samaria included renewing the operational-terrorist infrastructure which had been damaged and handling operatives who had not been detained. He formed links between them and operatives in the United States and had them replace regional commanders who had been detained by the Israeli security forces. Wanted by Israel, in October 1990 he used forged documents to escape to Jordan, and from there went to Britain, where he has been living and from where he continues his anti-Israeli activities.
6. During his first years in Britain he tried to establish his position as one of Hamas’ senior "external” operatives, continuing his operational activity. He was in contact with operatives in the United States, Syria, and Judea and Samaria. In recent years his status as a senior Hamas activist has diminished, although he has continued his intensive pro-Hamas anti-Israeli activities. He has arranged rallies and demonstrations, sermons in mosques, Muslim Brotherhood activities (Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood), and sent aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and to the de facto Hamas administration.
Muhammad Sawalha at a British Muslim Initiative demonstration. He carries a sign reading "Freedom for Palestine.” To his left is a demonstrator holding a sign reading "Stop the holocaust in Gaza” (The picture was apparently taken during Operation Cast Lead.)2
7. Some examples of his activities in recent years are the following:
A. On March 19, 2004, the Muslim Brotherhood website referred to him as "UK official [mas’ul] of the Political Committee of the International Muslim Brotherhood Organisation in the UK.”3
B. He was one of the founders of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), an organization affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and headed it from 1999 to 2007. He later became chairman of the British Muslim Initiative.4
C. On July 21, 2007, he appeared on Hamas’ Palestine-info website as head of an organization called the International Committee to Lift the Siege on the Gaza Strip.5
D. In July 2009 he was reported appointed as deputy chairman of the Popular Committee in Support of the Palestinian People, which describes itself as coordinating between organizations and institutions all over the globe to promote a "Palestinian victory” and "lift the [so-called] siege of the Gaza Strip.” (The organization’s website gave broad coverage to the Viva Palestina humanitarian assistance convoy which reached the Gaza Strip at the beginning of January 2010.6)
8. Muhammad Sawalha was one of the signers of the Istanbul Declaration of February 13, 2009, formulated at a conference held in Istanbul and attended by Islamists from all over the world. The declaration stated that Hamas was "victorious” in the Gaza Strip [i.e., had defeated Israel in Operation Cast Lead] and that the jihad in the Gaza Strip was part of the global jihad. The declaration expressed support for the "resistance” [i.e., terrorism] and jihad against Israel until the "liberation of all Palestine.” It also expressed support for Hamas, and called the peace process with Israel a betrayal of the Palestinians and all Muslims. 7
1 For further information see the December 17, 2009 bulletin, "A Hamas ‘ministry of justice’ committee called Al-Tawthiq (Documentation) claims to be behind the arrest warrant issued in Britain for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. It is part of the Hamas campaign to pursue Israelis in Europe in the name of the victims of Operation Cast Lead” at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e091.htm.
2 http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/10/20/the-wisdom-of-sawalha .
4 http://www.khelbawy.com/about.html Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, "The Unraveling: the jihadist revolt against Al-Qaeda,” The New Republic, 11 June 2008.
7 http://www.hurryupharry.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/istpdf.pdf .