The Ikhwan in Switzerland, Part Two

This is the second report on the Muslim Brotherhood in Switzerland; the one posted last month was from the Italian-speaking region of the country.

Many thanks to FouseSquawk for translating this article from the German-language Swiss news portal Infosperber. It was published last September:

Muslim Brotherhood: Money flows in and through Switzerland

Tobias Tscherria
September 23, 2019

Reliable documents show how political Islam in Europe is strengthened. The clues also lead to Switzerland.

The illegal transport of money over the Swiss border; confusing financial networks and contracts, with which Islamic associations in Europe are awarded money — if they stick to backward conditions. An NGO which, under the cloak of charity, exports the fundamentalist views of the Muslim Brotherhood to Europe; connections to the power structure in Qatar.

The 90-minute “Arte — Documentation Qatar: Millions for European Islam” shows in detail how the Muslim Brotherhood wants to influence European Islam: It also shows that this is only possible because European nations do not provide the means for their Muslim citizens to practice their religion.

Switzerland is also an issue: With the help of leaked documents, Arte shows that the Muslim Brotherhood is not only active in Switzerland, but uses it as a transfer location for financial help.

“Qatar Charity” Doubtful Charity

The central actor of the documentation is the Qatari NGO “Qatar Charity”. Qatar’s largest aid agency was established in 1992 and is active in over 70 countries worldwide. Soon it gained a reputation for being closely tied to the power structure in Qatar — and for exporting the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood into other countries. To do this, it would use the contributions of conservative Muslims, who fulfill their zakat duty: They are obligated to hand over a certain proportion of their assets to the needy and other designated groups of people. Moreover, among the financiers of Qatar Charity are counted powerful and financially strong individuals.

Since 2014 Qatar Charity has been accused of “under-the-cloak humanitarian aid, financing radical Islamic groups” by Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s ruling family, the Al-Thani clan, is allegedly involved. The ruling elite of the emirate in fact denies all accusations. Qatar Charity is an independent organization with no direct connections to the State. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, defended himself against the accusation that Qatar Charity finances jihadism and political Islam. Moreover, Qatar also denies any financial engagement in Europe.

The accusation that Qatar finances Islamist groups, especially from Saudi Arabia, is hypocritical. Although the desert state is fighting the MB and Qatar, it itself supports terrorist jihadists, extreme fundamentalist Wahhabis and their mosques.

Qatar Charity’s European Program

On the basis of the reliable documents, which an anonymous whistle blower passed on to two French journalists, Arte researched the MB’s network over two years. The conclusion is rather clear: the documents revealed a program for strengthening political Islam in Europe. The Europe-wide funds directed to 140 mosques, cultural centers and schools are all related to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The leaked documents show transfers, e-mail correspondence and donor lists from Qatar Charity. On the donor lists there are prominent names, for example, several members of the Qatari ruling family. As analyzed by Arte, the documents testify to the financing of an extensive, Europe-wide network of organizations that are close to the MB ideology.

Altogether, these organizations are believed to have advanced 140 projects in Europe with a total amount of €260 million. Qatar Charity is believed to be the largest donor with 120 million euros. With the money, according to Arte, mosques, Islamic center or schools are believed to have been funded. The funding of projects is concentrated in a few countries: In Italy, 47 projects were financed, in France, 22, in Spain and Great Britain, 11 each, and in Germany, 10 projects. And: Donations from Qatar Charity have also flowed in and through Switzerland.

Karmous: Influential in Switzerland

Between 2011 and 2014, according to Arte, Qatar Charity is said to have converted around 3 million Swiss francs in several Muslim projects in Switzerland: in Biel, Prilly, in Lugano, and La Chaux-de-Fonds. Other sources talk of funding in the amount of 4 million francs.

In this, the Algerian-French Karmous married couple plays a central role. Nadia and Mohamed Karmous are controversial Islamic figures in Switzerland. The couple have been active in Neuenburg Canton since the 1990s. Together, they lead a dozen associations, cultural centers and mosques in French-speaking Switzerland and Ticino. Nadia Karmous is particularly cosmopolitan and says in response to Arte that she does not belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Nadia Karmous began the Museum for Islamic Culture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, which opened in 2016. As part of this, Karmous published a list of donors who financially contributed to the project. These came mostly from the Gulf States. Nor did she hide the fact that part of the donations came through Qatar Charity. Against Arte she defended this method. “The people couldn’t contribute this money directly; rather, they had to do it through an organization.” Qatar Charity transmitted a small amount on one occasion. One thus had no choice: Either take the donations from Qatar Charity — or get no money at all. But nobody knows the people from Qatar Charity.

Regular Transfers to Karmous

As Arte points out, however, there are much stronger connections. In the library of the Museum are found the writings of the most important ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood. Among them are also writings by Youssef al-Qaradawi, the leading thinker of the Muslim Brotherhood — also texts by advocates of armed jihad are included among the offerings.

Though Nadia Karmous underplays her connections to Qatar Charity in response to Arte, the documents, those available to the TV station, speak otherwise. They show that in 2014, Karmous signed an agreement with the leaders of Qatar Charity. This concerned the renovation of the museum building. Altogether, according to Arte, they show 14 receipts for regular transfers to the Cultural Institute, in which the museum is located.

The Arte journalists, however, also found supporting documents for transfers to another cultural institute in Lausanne and an association in Lugano. According to Arte, they concern facilities managed by Nadia Karmous’ husband.

With €50,000 to Paris

Arte doesn’t stop there, and uncovers further revelations about the Karmous couple. Qatar Charity also helped spread the influence of the NGO in France. This was discovered by the French journalist Antoine Peillon based on a report from the French internal intelligence service.

According to the contents of the report, Mohamed Karmous was searched by French Customs in April 2007 when he was traveling in a TGV train from Zurich to Paris. He had €50,000 in cash with him and stated that he was given the sum by Ahmed Al Hammadi in Geneva. As Peillon explains, Hammadi is a patron of the noted Egyptian sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, the leading thinker of the Muslim Brotherhood, with whom he (Hammadi) serves as a mediator. According to the report, the money was for the European Institute for Religious Science (IESH) in Nievre, France, where imams are trained. The institute is run by the Muslims of France (UOIF), the former Union of Islamic Organizations. An organization close to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to the report by the French interior intelligence service, Mohamed Karmous is believed to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and moreover, suspected of belonging to the Tunisian Ennada Party. The report ends with the conclusion that Nadia Karmous shares the goals of her husband.

Although he lives in Switzerland, Mohamed Karmous is believed to be functioning as president of IESH today. According to Arte, Qatar Charity supported the IESH several times. As recently as 2012, about €140,000 are believed to have been donated.

Addendum 1: As Arte writes, Qatar Charity stopped payments to the Muslim Cultural Center in Switzerland, the sponsor of the Museum of Islamic Culture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, shortly after the research.

Addendum 2: Infosperber is publishing only excerpts from the Arte documentation. Over a total of two years the journalists from Arte investigated to uncover the connections and the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. A comprehensive picture emerges by viewing the entire documentation. Since November 22, 2019, it has been available online.