Here is a photograph (click to enlarge) from a press conference held earlier today in Latakia, Syria, by Viva Palestina, George Galloway’s mission for the political and material support of Hamas.
In the centre are Galloway and Kevin Ovenden, a trustee of Viva Palestina.
Standing on the right is Zaher Birawi, the spokesman for Viva Palestina on its convoys for Hamas.
Deceased Syrian dictator Hafez al Assad beams down on them all from the portrait at the top right.
Who is the man at the microphone on the right? It’s Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy leader of the political office of Hamas in Damascus.
He is also a key moneyman for the terrorist group. He is subject to specific sanctions (pdf) by the Bank of England.
He was indicted in the US, in absentia, in 2004 for racketeering on behalf of Hamas. He had been a central figure in Hamas fundraising operations in the US in the 1990s. Here are some excerpts from the indictment (pdf):
He presently lives in Damascus, Syria, and is the Deputy Chief of the Hamas Political Bureau. The Political Bureau functioned as the highest ranking leadership body in the Hamas organization, setting policies and guidelines regarding Hamas’s activities, including directing and coordinating terrorist acts by Hamas and the Al-Qassam Brigades.
From in or about 1988 until in or about February 1993, while living in the United States, ABU MARZOOK coordinated and financed the activities of Hamas within the United States and elsewhere, first from Louisiana and then from Northern Virginia. During that period, ABU MARZOOK traveled throughout the United States to meet with other American-based Hamas members, as well as foreign-based Hamas members traveling to the United States for organizational purposes. ABU MARZOOK additionally maintained constant phone contact with Hamas membership and leadership in the United States and abroad.
During this time period, ABU MARZOOK also maintained and shared numerous bank accounts through which substantial sums of money were transferred from bank accounts located outside the United States to other accounts within the United States, including bank accounts controlled by or associated with defendant MUHAMMAD HAMID KHALIL SALAH, for ultimate disbursal to accounts and individuals outside the United States for use in furtherance of Hamas.
Beginning no later than 1990, defendants ABU MARZOOK and SALAH were members of a United States-based Hamas security committee. The activities of the security committee included, among other things, the identification of Palestinian men studying in the United States, for the purpose of attempting to recruit those Palestinian men into Hamas.
Marzook was indicted in absentia because he had been arrested in New York in 1995 and deported to Jordan. He didn’t dare to try coming back to the US.
The US funding network for Hamas that he helped to build was brought to a definitive end in 2008, when the leaders of a US “charity” called the Holy Land Foundation were found guilty of financing Hamas and imprisoned.
Going back to the photograph, the man at the left end of the table is Muhammad Sawalha, an important Viva Palestina operative. He is also a fugitive Hamas commander who appears in Marzook’s indictment:
In approximately August 1992, defendant SALAH met and conferred with defendant ABU MARZOOK and co-conspirator Mohammed Qassem Sawalha regarding the need to revitalize Hamas terrorist operations in the West Bank. During the meeting, Sawalha, who had previously been in charge of Hamas terrorist operations within the West Bank, identified specific Hamas members still residing in the West Bank who could be used to revitalize Hamas’s terrorist activities.
Mr Sawalha has had a very good run in the UK. Like a number of other Islamist extremists covered on this blog, he found sanctuary in the UK under the last Tory government of John Major. No one has even tried to bring him to book for working for Hamas from London, under the Tories or Labour. The same is true of Viva Palestina itself.
Perhaps that will change under the current Tory-led government.
Though for now I doubt it.