Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Viva Palestina Organizers cozy up to Syrian Tyrants

Thank you, Anonymous.

"Hactivist" organization Anonymous has released a massive number of emails, including correspondence between George Galloway and Bouthaina Shaaban ,Assad's media adviser.

George Galloway, one of the organizer of Gaza flotilla, Viva Palestina convoy and currently involved with the Global March to Jerusalem sought assistance from Assad's office, asking for permission for the flotilla to sail from the Syrian port city of Latakia

From Haaretz:

"Galloway has for many years carried on close contacts with dictators and extremist elements in the Arab world. In the late 1990s, he was closely linked with Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the Assad regime in Syria, Hamas in Gaza and the Iranian regime.

In July 2011, at a time when Assad was perpetrating massacres of his own people, Galloway was interviewed on Hezbollah's al-Manar network, where he heaped praises on the Syrian president. "Bashar Assad wants reform and change, to realize the aspirations of his people," he said in the interview, which was quoted in the official Syrian news agency Sana. "They are trying to pressure Syria and President Assad because of the good things that he did, such as supporting Palestinian and Lebanese resistance and rejecting to surrender to Israel."

In January 2009, Galloway founded the Viva Palestina organization, which began to organize aid flotillas to the Gaza Strip. The Shin Bet security service describes the organization as being "pro-Hamas" and assesses that Viva Palestina activists are involved in the transfer of funds to Hamas.

Galloway is considered persona non grata in several countries. In March 2009, Canada refused to permit his entry, stating that his organization was aiding Hamas in several ways, including the transfer of funds. In January 2010, Galloway was deported from Egypt following a visit he made to the Gaza Strip in the course of which members of his organization clashed with Egyptian soldiers at the Rafah border crossing, leading to the death of an Egyptian policeman. Egypt has since then refused to permit his entry into Gaza from its own territory.

On August 11, 2010, Galloway wrote to Bashar Assad's media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, who is considered to be one of the closest aides to the Syrian president. In an email message that bore the subject heading "IMPORTANT - private and confidential," Galloway asked Shaaban for Syrian help in organizing the aid flotilla to Gaza.

"I am writing once again to ask for Syria's co-operation although I do not doubt it for one moment. Syria is as I have often said is the last castle of Arab dignity," Galloway noted. "This convoy sets out simulataneously [sic] on September 18th 2010 from London, from Casablanca and from the Gulf. The London and Gulf columns of vehicles would like to converge on Latakia and sail from there to Al Arish."

Galloway listed the organizations that would be taking part in the flotilla, including IHH, the Turkish group that organized the flotilla to Gaza in May 2010. "It is intended that the vehicles and passengers should sail to Al Arish on board the Mavi Marmara, which as you know is owned by IHH," he wrote. "If His Excellency the President Bashar al Asad and his government can accept this proposal in principle perhaps you could nominate partner organisation(s) and individuals with whom my colleagues could liaise about the practical details?"

Galloway informed Shaaban that the two members of Viva Palestina responsible for the flotilla were Kevin Ovenden and Zaher Birawi. The Shin Bet charges that Birawi is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. He lives in England, where he engages in intensive anti-Israeli activity. Birawi has been linked to the organizing of past convoys and flotillas to the Gaza Strip. Ovendon is a far-left British activist who was aboard the Mavi Marmara in the May 2010 flotilla to Gaza.

Three days later, Shaaban sent an emailed response to Galloway in which she expressed enthusiasm for the idea. "God bless your amazing efforts and I will be honored to be part and parcel of it and to be the catalyst for my country too," she wrote. "You will find me happy to put my time and energy to help with this most important cause of the Twenty First Century."

Galloway responded in another email, in which he wrote, "I knew that I could rely on you and the last Arab country in this historic endeavour. Can I respectfully request that you task officials in Damascus and Latakia to make contact with my comrades in advance of your arrival back to Syria?"

The flotilla ultimately sailed from Latakia on October 18, 2010 and arrived in Al Arish three days later, and from there continued in a land-based convoy comprising dozens of vehicles and hundreds of activists to the Gaza Strip. The entry into Gaza by Galloway and 16 others was denied by the Egyptian security services, although the convoy itself was permitted to enter following talks between the Egyptian and Syrian governments "

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