Just a short time after outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair assumed the role of Middle East envoy, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Herzelia, Israel (www.intelligence.org.il), has issued a scathing report in which it accused Britain as a “major source of publishing and distribution of Hamas incitement,” slamming the British government, which “does not stop the distribution of hateful propaganda against Israel and the West and publications glorifying suicide terrorism,” adding that, “British authorities have yet to take effective action to put an end to the exploitation of their country by Hamas for spreading incitement… that could strike a chord not only with Palestinian or Arab/Muslim target audiences worldwide but also with the Muslim community in Britain itself.”
In their report, which was declassified and distributed to the intelligence community and to the media this week, the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Center asserts that while the center of the Hamas media empire, “guided from Damascus and assisted by Arab countries, is in the Gaza Strip,” its operation has a “branch operating in Britain and uses it for printing and distribution of Hamas publications.”
Such publications include: a. The monthly Filastin al-Muslimah, Hamas’ major publication since 1981, available in paper edition and on the Web. The monthly spreads incitement and hatred against Israel and the West in the spirit of Hamas’ ideology while preaching terrorism and glorifying its masterminds and perpetrators.
b. The online biweekly Al-Fateh, which is geared toward children, whom Hamas considers a highly significant target audience. Similarly to other children’s publications, Al-Fateh is designed to inculcate them with radical Islam and educate them in violence and terrorism from a young age.
c. A publishing house named Filastin al-Muslimah Publications, associated with the Filastin al-Muslimah monthly. It has published books commemorating terrorists and Hamas seniors responsible for planning and initiating terrorist attacks, focusing on suicide terrorism. The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center asserts that Hamas’ use of Britain as a major source of publishing and distribution of incitement is “hardly coincidental,” adding that it is their assessment that “there are several factors at play: first, the policy of the British government, allowing Hamas (and radical Islamic elements in general) a relative freedom of action on British territory, particularly in the sphere of propaganda; second, the existence of a network of Arab/Muslim supporters in Britain; third, the technical ability to produce high quality publications in Britain and distribute them across the globe.”
Filastin al-Muslimah is the major publication of the Hamas movement. It first started in 1981 as a British students’ publication on behalf of the Muslim Palestinian youth organization in Britain. In 1991, it started appearing regularly every month.
In 1999, as the Hamas offices in Jordan were shut down, the editorial staff relocated to Syria and, from there, to Britain. One of the first editors-in-chief of Filastin al-Muslimah was Dr. Atef Adwan, an old-time Hamas activist, who earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science in Britain.
Atef Adwan, who served as Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin’s advisor, was held in prison in Israel and was the minister of refugee affairs in the previous Hamas government (until the establishment of the Palestinian unity government in March 2007).
From Britain, the monthly spreads Hamas ideology and political messages to the Palestinian Authority-administered territories, to the Arab/Muslim world and to Muslim communities in the West. Those messages include hatred against Israel and the West, incitement to violence and terrorism, and ideological sympathy with global jihad and radical Islam. The propaganda policy of the monthly is directed by the Hamas leadership in Damascus. From Britain, the monthly is distributed worldwide in both its online and hard copy editions. The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center posits that, in order to avoid unwanted attention from British security services, Filastin al-Muslimah stopped publishing its address in Britain on the front page at some point during 2004.
In their biweekly Al-Fateh, geared toward children and teenagers, the Hamas movement pays particular attention to children, whom it considers to be a highly significant target audience and a pool of the movement’s future generations of terrorist operatives.
Al-Fateh is a newspaper that spreads the Hamas ideology and political messages, combining them with articles and illustrations designed for children.
The first issues were published in 2002, first as a monthly and then as a biweekly newspaper.
It is now an online newspaper, although it was formerly available in a hard copy edition as well. Its address is www.al-fateh.net. Al-Fateh is openly published in London, which is explicitly stated on its homepage (unlike Filastin al-Muslimah, which prefers not to flaunt that fact).
The themes of the bi-weekly are unmistakably associated with the Hamas movement.
The homepage of the Hamas main Web site (www.palestine-info.info/ar) contains a permanent link to the Al-Fateh site. Al-Fateh’s editor-in-chief and founder is Sami al-Halabi (as noted on the Al-Fateh homepage). Sami al-Halabi is an alias. According to the the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, this is the pen name of Abdallah al-Tantawi, who was a senior figure in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in the mid-1990s (Hamas being the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood).
According to the German newspaper Al-Raed, Abdallah al-Tantawi founded the Al-Fateh newspaper, was a co-founder of other Islamic-oriented children’s newspapers, and was their editor-in-chief. Firas was one of those newspapers, in which Abdallah al-Tantawi used to write under the pen name Sami al-Halabi due to “political reasons” (that is, security reasons, to make himself more difficult to expose).
The Hamas movement in Britain operated (and perhaps still operates) a publishing house that published books commemorating and glorifying senior Hamas terrorists. Filastin al-Muslimah Publications (Manshurat Filastin al-Muslimah) is associated with the Filastin al-Muslimah monthly, published in Britain. The publishing house produced books on senior figures in the Hamas operative-terrorist wing: Salah Shehada, Yahya Ayyash, and Imad Aqel.
In 2004, the publishing house printed a book named My Homeland Is with Me (Watani Ma’i). Since that time, it is not known what additional books, if any, were printed by Filastin al-Muslimah Publications.
One of the major founders of the Filastin al-Muslimah publishing house is Ghassan Daw’ar, referred to by Hamas as “the historian of the intifada” (i.e., the campaign of terrorism against Israel) and “the historian of the shahids.” Ghassan Daw’ar also writes articles for Hamas’ main Web site (palestine-info).
In 1999, he was arrested in Jordan with other Hamas leaders. According to Hamas, he was arrested for his involvement in a committee that objected to the normalization of relations with the “Zionist enemy.” Ghassan Daw’ar’s books and articles focus on nurturing the concept of martyrdom (shahada) and preaching suicide bombing terrorism. This is reflected in the books he wrote on Yahya Ayyash and Imad Aqel, two of the most prominent masterminds and architects of Hamas’ suicide bombing terrorism.
In addition, between March 29 and April 4, Daw’ar published a series of articles in the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, dealing with the mothers of suicide bombers. Titled “Palestinian Women in the Intifada,” the articles praise the perpetrators of suicide bombing attacks and their mothers.
Like the Filastin al-Muslimah monthly, the publishing house associated with it now avoids publishing its address in Britain.
Formerly, the caption “P.O.B 2502, London” used to appear on its publications, the same address once used by Filastin al-Muslimah. Daw’ar’s foreword to the book he wrote on Yahya Ayyash (The Engineer) includes this line: “The Engineer is the title of the authentic Palestinian myth, which restored hope, did away with despair, and returned life [to Muslims] in the spirit of jihad and resistance in Palestine.” Sheikh Yussuf al-Qardawi, a senior figure in the Muslim Brotherhood preaching suicide terrorism against Israel, also wrote in the book’s foreword: “The talented Engineer, the jihad warrior, the shahid Yahya Ayyash, who dedicated himself, his talents, the best of his time and efforts… to a big, important problem, the primary problem of Muslims [across the globe]…. His brothers called him ‘the Engineer of Generations,’ since he possessed the skills and experience in engineering and planning suicide operations… against the
cruelty and insolence of the Zionist entity.” Who was Yahya Ayyash? He headed the operative-terrorist wing of Hamas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He specialized in the preparation of explosive charges and dispatching suicide bombers in the years 1994-1996, with the clear purpose of undermining the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993. He was codenamed “the Engineer” since he had a degree in electrical engineering from Bir Zeit University and used the knowledge he gained during his studies to manufacture the explosive charges used by the suicide bombers. Yahya Ayyash was responsible for killing some 55 civilians and wounding 430 in a series of particularly devastating terrorist attacks that struck the cities of Israel. He died in a retaliatory targeted killing by the Israeli security forces in 1996.
The fact that radical Islam maintained such a presence in the U.K. during the Blair government’s decade in office remains an indication that Blair was ready to tolerate the presence of radical Islam – even after the deadly Islamic attacks on London on July 7, 2005.
Is this a sign of things to come as Blair assumes the mantle of Middle East negotiator?
The question remains: Will Blair ignore lethal Hamas rhetoric in Gaza like he did in London?