A former Hamas chief is behind one of the groups planning a pro-Palestine protest in London on Armistice Day, it emerged last week.
Who really is Muhammad Kathem Sawalha?
Muhammad Kathem Sawalha led the terror group in the West Bank in the late 1980s and allegedly ‘masterminded’ its military strategy as recently as 2019 before moving to the UK, where he lives in a London council house.
Mr Sawalha, 62, is a founder of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) – one of the groups behind the proposed march this Saturday, The Telegraph reported.
Half the groups organising the march this Saturday, which the Met Police has called on to be cancelled, have links to Hamas, the newspaper claimed.
Mr Sawalha, who was granted British citizenship in the early 2000s, lives in Barnet, North London.
In 2006, the BBC‘s Panorama programme claimed that he was ‘said to have masterminded much of Hamas’ political and military strategy’.
He is said to have worked as a director of MAB between 1999 and 2007 before serving on the Hamas politburo between 2013 and 2017.
It is also claimed that Mr Sawalha had a place in an official Hamas delegation to Moscow in 2019.
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which is based in Israel, said he joined the delegation which was led by Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of the Hamas political bureau.
Sawalha’s visit to Russia
He is also reported to have visited Russia in a separate delegation in 2017, and a delegation to Instanbul, also in 2017.
Israeli sources claim his son, Obada Sawalha, is now the vice-president of MAB.
One of the other three co-founders of MAB, Dr Anas Altikriti, also co-founded a group called the British Muslim Initiative with Mohammed Sawalha, a senior Hamas commander, and Azzam Tamimi, who has previously been described as a ‘special envoy’ for Hamas in the UK.
How Armistice Day pro-Palestine protest is traced to Muhammad Kathem Sawalha
According to findings by the British government published in 2015, MAB has been ‘dominated’ by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and association with the group is a ‘possible indicator of extremism’.
A second group involved in organising this weekend’s protests, the Palestinian Forum in Britain, is led by Zaher Birawi, who was described by Labour MP Christian Wakeford as ‘a senior Hamas operative in Europe’ and a ‘national security risk’.
He is also understood to be living in Barnet, not far from Mr Sawalhi.
Mr Birawi, 62, who has previously been photographed with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, is the trustee of a UK-registered charity, Education Aid for Palestinians, which has raised more than £3 million since 2017.
He has also previously been interviewed by Hamas’ daily newspaper, according to Israeli intelligence.
His opinions on Israel
He described Israel as a ‘racist colonial crime state’ on his Facebook page last month, and berated those who have supported Israel following the appalling October 7 Hamas terror attacks, which left more than 1,400 dead and 200 in captivity, including women and children.
He wrote: ‘Shame on them and f*** all the accomplices in killing our people.’
As well as being the trustee of Education Aid for Palestinians, he has also been involved with EuroPal Forum, a charity that has been designated as a ‘terrorist organization’ by the US and Israel. It has fiercely denied any terror links.