A recently launched virtual “International Witness Campaign”, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the US War on Terror, includes a host of European Islamist groups. The Campaign website describes itself as follows:
September 13, 2021 In 2001, US president GW Bush announced the launch of a “crusade”. Since then, we have witnessed 20 years of illegal wars, carpet bombings, drone assassinations, arbitrary detention, torture and mass displacement in the Muslim world. Western democracies have also enacted countless legislations and policies targeting Muslim communities and undermining the rule of law for all. The International Witness Campaign gathers international partners to commemorate this anniversary and remember the millions of people affected across the globe. It explores two decades of the war on Terror, its impact, its failures and its future, while promoting solidarity, justice and dialogue.
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The Campaign says it organizes film screenings and webinars and hosts in-person events and podcasts. It was initiated by CAGE, a UK Islamic advocacy group tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB) and whose senior leaders have advocated supporting violent jihad overseas. Among the initiative’s 53 partner associations are multiple Islamist organizations from several European countries, including:
- BarakaCity, a French NGO that was dissolved by the French government in 2020 and was described as an “enemy of the state” by the country’s interior minister.
- Islamic Central Council of Switzerland, a Swiss fundamentalist Muslim association under surveillance by the Swiss authorities.
- Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en Europe, a regrouping of a controversial French Islamophobia watchdog and human rights NGO that was also banned by the French government. A 2020 analysis by the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) concluded that this predecessor was an Islamist influence operation with close ties to the GMB.
- Islamic Human Rights Commission, a UK-based NGO close to Iran that has been central to organizing the events of the International Quds Day, an event historically characterized by anti-Semitism.
- Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), a UK Islamic NGO close to the GMB in Britain.
Other partners include Nyans, a Turkish-Swedish migrant party whose senior leaders have family ties to the Turkish far-right/Islamist MHP party, and ACT‑P, a support group for children involved in the November 2020 raids by the Austrian authorities that targeted a large number of Islamic organizations and individuals suspected of ties to the GMB and terrorist organizations. Another partner is the Istanbul-based Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), whose leader Sami Al-Arian in 2006 pleaded guilty to conspiring to make or receive contributions of funds, goods, or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In August 2021, the GIOR reported that CIGA had organized an academic conference in Turkey named “Challenging Apartheid in Palestine” that featured prominent Islamist and Turkish figures as well as US academics with close ties to the GMB as speakers.
One of the Witness Campaign’s first events was a 2 September 2021 virtual panel discussion hosted by CAGE Outreach Director Moazzam Begg that discussed the future of Afghanistan and featured British Muslim activist Yvonne Ridley and Mullah Abdus-Salam Zaeef, the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan. Another two-day event titled “People’s Tribunal on the Crimes of Aggression” featured former British National Union of Students (NUS) President Malia Bouattia, who in the past has suggested that violent “resistance” was the way forward in Palestine.
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