In late February, the UK-based Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) announced the kick-off of this year’s edition of the Palestinian “Al-Aqsa International Week,” an online event scheduled for 6–12 March described in an announcement as follows:
We are calling upon university societies, families, mosques, work places, halaqas, local councils and parliaments around the world to hold events under the banner of #LoveAqsa. Aqsa Week should be marked by organising varied events that bring to fore the centrality of Al-Aqsa and the plight of the Palestinians. The events should also recognise other oppressed and colonised people. Aqsa Week should be used to teach Muslim and non-Muslims of the great heritage of Masjid Al-Aqsa and how to support the occupied people around the world.
Read the rest here.
Al-Aqsa International Week is being hosted by the FOA in cooperation with the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a US-based Palestinian advocacy group with strong ties to both the US Muslim Brotherhood and the Hamas support infrastructure in the US. The event was comprised of virtual seminars, workshops, and panel discussions that brought together a large number of individuals tied to the international Hamas support network and/or Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB), an international influence operation monitored by the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR). The event schedule included topics such as “Aqsa and Jerusalem: The Judiazation Project” and “Liberating Al Aqsa: Salahudeen & The Crushing of the Crusades.”
The FOA said the “Al-Aqsa International Week” had garnered official support from international Muslim organizations and several of the region’s administrations, including the Ministry of Awqaf Jerusalem, the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs, and the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a long-time part of the GMB. Featured appearances included the following individuals:
- Zaher Birawi, a prominent British pro-Hamas activist and long-time Director of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC). In December 2010, the Israeli government declared the PRC to be an illegal organization, stating it functioned as “Hamas’s organizational branch in Europe.”
- Hatem Bazian, UC Berkley Professor and AMP Chair
- Ismail Patel, FOA head
- Osama Abuirshaid, AMP Executive Director and US Council of Muslim Organizations board member
- Taher Herzallah, AMP Associate Director of Outreach and former AMP Campus Coordinator
- Anas Altikriti, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK and a founder of the Cordoba Foundation
- Raghad Altikriti, sister of Anas Altikriti and President of the Muslim Association of Britain
- Suhaib Webb, former imam of the Islamic Society of Boston and with historical ties to the Muslim American Society.
- Issam Adwan, head of the Hamas Refugee Affairs Department who has said that Hamas had the “right” to attack Israeli embassies and officials
- Omar Suleiman, an Islamic scholar who has spoken at multiple joint conferences of the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America, both part of the US Muslim Brotherhood.
- Ramzy Baroud, former Deputy Managing Editor of Al Jazeera Online and former Managing Editor of Middle East Eye, a publication tied to the GMB
- Raja Abdulhaq, a former AMP volunteer and co-founder of Palestinian media platform Quds News Network, whose accounts were suspended by Twitter in 2019 for violating its policies. Abdulhaq has also publicly defended Hamas and compared Israel to Nazi Germany.
- Naeem Baig, former President of the Islamic Circle of North America.
An intelligence center linked to the Israeli intelligence services has described the FOA as:
(…) a pro-Hamas British organization based in Leicester which advocates Israel’s elimination. The organization takes part in all aspects of the campaign to delegitimize Israel in Britain: boycotts of Israel, dissemination of anti-Israel propaganda, involvement in convoys and flotillas for the Gaza Strip, and anti-Israel demonstrations in London.
Prior GIOR reporting about the international Hamas support network has included:
- A March 2021 report about a virtual “revival” conference by the international youth/student organization of the GMB that brought together a large number of GMB leaders.
- A January 2021 report that the European Hamas support network had established a new front group.
- A December 2020 report about a virtual Palestinian advocacy conference that featured Hamas support groups and three US Congresswomen.