IslamismMarch 2 2023, 8:44 am

A Possible Scottish First Minister and His Ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood

Scot­tish Nation­al Par­ty (SNP) politi­cian Humza Yousaf is cur­rent­ly one of the lead­ing con­tenders to replace Nico­la Stur­geon as the next Scot­tish First Min­is­ter. While many are famil­iar with Yousaf’s advo­ca­cy for Scot­tish inde­pen­dence and anti-racism, few­er are aware of his his­tor­i­cal ties to the Glob­al Mus­lim Brotherhood.

Yousaf was born on April 7, 1985, to Pak­istani immi­grants in Glas­gow, Scot­land, where he was raised. He attend­ed the Uni­ver­si­ty of Glas­gow and went on to hold a num­ber of posi­tions with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, includ­ing serv­ing as a par­lia­men­tary assis­tant for Bashir Ahmad, Scot­land’s first Mus­lim MSP. Fol­low­ing Ahmad’s death, Yousaf worked for First Min­is­ter Alex Salmond and Deputy First Min­is­ter Nico­la Stur­geon before being elect­ed to the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment in 2011, becom­ing the youngest MSP in Scot­tish par­lia­men­tary his­to­ry at the time.

Yousaf has held var­i­ous min­is­te­r­i­al posi­tions since his elec­tion, includ­ing Jus­tice Sec­re­tary and Health Sec­re­tary dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. Fol­low­ing Stur­geon’s res­ig­na­tion announce­ment, he declared his can­di­da­cy for the 2023 SNP lead­er­ship election.

While Yousaf is known for advo­cat­ing for Scot­tish inde­pen­dence and anti-racism, his ties to the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood are less well-known. In 2008, while work­ing for Bashir Ahmad, Yousaf met at the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment. with Mohammed Sawal­ha, a fugi­tive for­mer Hamas com­man­der liv­ing in exile in the UK. Sawal­ha was a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Islam Expo, which received a £2 mil­lion grant from Qatar and host­ed events in Lon­don in 2006 and 2008. He and Sawal­ha were joined at the 2008 meet­ing by two oth­er activists who have pub­licly sup­port­ed Hamas, Anas Altikri­ti and Ismail Patel, who were also list­ed as part of Islam Expo. Altikri­ti is one of the most impor­tant lead­ers of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in the UK while Patel was the founder of Friends of Al-Aqsa, a pro-Hamas British orga­ni­za­tion based in Leices­ter which advo­cat­ed Israel’s elimination.

When asked by the media about the meet­ing and if he was aware of Sawal­ha’s back­ground. Yousaf did not respond direct­ly but said he him­self had a “strong track record of stand­ing up against every form of hatred, includ­ing anti­semitism.” Lord Carlile, the for­mer inde­pen­dent review­er of ter­ror­ism leg­is­la­tion, said: “Yousaf must address the cir­cum­stances in which he judged it appro­pri­ate to have close con­tact with Hamas sup­port­ers. He has to face these ques­tions head-on were he to become First Min­is­ter.” A senior Labour source said: “If these alle­ga­tions are cor­rect, then Yousaf will come under seri­ous pres­sure to jus­ti­fy the com­pa­ny he has kept and the inter­ests he has represented.”

In addi­tion to his ties to Sawal­ha, Yousaf was a direc­tor of the Scot­tish Islam­ic Foun­da­tion (SIF) until 2009. In 2008, the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Dai­ly Watch (GMBDW) began report­ing on the SIF as well as the oth­er GMB ties of Hamza Yousaf. The GMBDW report­ed that SIF was head­ed by Yousaf’s cousin Osama Saeed, a for­mer offi­cial with the Mus­lim Asso­ci­a­tion of Britain, part of the UK Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. Saeed’s con­tro­ver­sial back­ground includ­ed calls for an Islam­ic Caliphate and equiv­o­cal stands on ter­ror­ism, as not­ed by the GMBDW. Short­ly after the meet­ing with Yousaf, the SIF was award­ed £405,000 in grants from the SNP gov­ern­ment and announced the coun­try’s biggest-ever cel­e­bra­tion of Islam­ic cul­ture in Glas­gow in June 2009. How­ev­er, the project col­lapsed, and SIF was forced to repay £128,000 of the tax­pay­er funds it had received, with £72,000 already spent. Saeed had been a can­di­date for the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment on the tick­et of the SNP and resigned as head of the SIF fol­low­ing an audit of its accounts.

The GMBDW also report­ed in 2010 that Yousaf had been a vol­un­teer for Islam­ic Relief since the age of 10 and had worked as the media spokesman for Islam­ic Relief Scot­land. Islam­ic Relief World­wide has close ties to the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and was banned from oper­at­ing in Israel for alleged­ly send­ing cash to Hamas. As a min­is­ter, in 2013, Yousaf signed off on a £398,000 Scot­tish gov­ern­ment dona­tion for Islam­ic Relief.

The GMBDW also not­ed Yousaf was an alum­nus of the US State Depart­men­t’s Inter­na­tion­al Vis­i­tor Learn­ing Pro­gramme,” which has facil­i­tat­ed net­work­ing between US and Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood groups per­haps explain­ing the 2008 part­ner­ship between the SIF and the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR), a key part of the US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and also his­tor­i­cal­ly close to Hamas.

The GMBDW addi­tion­al­ly report­ed in Octo­ber 2008 on meet­ings between Humza Yousaf and Osama Saeed and the Turk­ish AKP as well as with Wadah Khan­far, at that the Direc­tor-Gen­er­al of Al Jazeera but also close to Hamas and the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. Saeed was employed at that time as the Head of Media and Pub­lic Rela­tions at the Al Jazeera Media Network.

Of course, these his­tor­i­cal but exten­sive links to the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and Hamas-sup­port­ing groups do not demon­strate that Hamza Yousaf is either a “mem­ber” of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood or shares an Islamist ide­ol­o­gy. How­ev­er, he has demand­ed that Israel be placed under an arms embar­go and that Pales­tine be acknowl­edged as a sov­er­eign state. A prac­tic­ing Mus­lim, he has said: “I do not use my faith as a basis for leg­is­lat­ing,” adding that pol­i­cy­mak­ers “have to look at what we think is in the best inter­est of soci­ety as a whole.” How­ev­er, crit­ics have spec­u­lat­ed about the depth of his com­mit­ment to human rights. For exam­ple, just last week, ques­tions were raised about why Yousaf had arranged a meet­ing that clashed with a crit­i­cal vote on gay mar­riage. What­ev­er Yousaf’s actu­al beliefs may be, his record rep­re­sents a gen­uine con­cern about the pos­si­ble influ­ence of the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood on a future Yousaf gov­ern­ment in Scotland.














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