Below is the latest in a series of articles on the Muslim Brotherhood in Sweden.
Sida doesn’t mention Islamic Relief’s violent history in its examination
Sida’s examination of Islamic Relief Sweden resulted in the aid organization’s getting the green light to continue being a strategic partner to the aid authority. But the examination was heavily circumscribed, and Sida did not mention a word, and neither did the Swedish Church, about the violent history of the organization’s founders. A history that, over time, has gone hand in hand with the terror sect Al Qaeda.
Islamic Relief Sweden was founded by Imam Haytham Rahmeh and the Islamic Association in Sweden in 1993. Islamic Relief was already in the foundation as a part of Islamic Relief Worldwide. The Islamic Association’s first location was in the basement of property at Ringvägen 137 in Stockholm. This environment, which was always characterized by strong anti-Semitic elements, today includes a number of known representatives of civil society in Sweden: Mahmoud Khalfi, now the imam in Stockholm’s mosque, Mahmoud Aldebe, former chairman of Sweden’s Muslim Council, which entered into a cooperation agreement with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and Mostafa Kharraki, the former chairman of Sweden’s Muslim Council.
The basement mosque on Ringvägen 137 later moved to a larger and more suitable location in 2000. After several years of rebuilding, renovation, and appeals, they were able to move to the former Katarina Station, Södermalms Electricity Works, in Björns Garden in Södermalm, Stockholm by Medborgarplatsen.
In March 1995, Stockholm’s City Council, after first consulting with Muslims they described as representatives of Muslim organizations, decided to convert the old transformer station, Katarina Station, to a mosque.
The previous year, 1994, representatives of the basement mosque on Ringvägen 137 appeared for the first time on the Stockholm municipality workers nomination list when, among others, Mahmoud Khalfi, now head imam in Stockholm’s mosque, was nominated to committees and company boards.
Khalfi’s representative Haytham Rahmeh has since then been the key person in inter-faith dialogue with the Swedish Church and the Social Democrat Fraternity Movement, which today goes under the name Social Democrats for Faith and Solidarity, but disappeared from public view at the start of the 2010 decade. In 2012, it was revealed by Sweden’s Radio that Rahmeh switched over and began as a weapons smuggler for his organization, Commission for the Protection of Civilians.
“It is no secret that Haytham Rahmeh and this group send weapons to Syria,” says the researcher Raphael, who follows the group closely for Swedish Radio.
Léfèvre is a researcher at the University of Cambridge. Léfèvre is a recognized expert in the Muslim Brotherhood and developments in Syria and Lebanon especially, as well as the author of Ashes of Hama— The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford University Press, 2013).
The militia group that Haytham Rahmeh set up and furnished with weapons fought together with, among others, the Fath Army, a part of the al Nusra Front, and Al Qaeda.
Stockholm’s mosque provides other militias with personnel
This happened about the same time that another parishioner in the Stockholm mosque, Tarif al Sayyed Issa, joined the armed group Fath-Army. Al Sayyed Issa came to command and was in Idlib at the same time that the ethnic cleansing of Christians was taking place. He died in a hospital in Turkey after having been targeted by a car bomb in Idlib in 2018.
Al Sayyed Issa is one of the Stockholm mosque’s most prominent and well-known families. Tarif al Sayyed Issa’s three sons are all, in different ways, engaged in this cluster of organizations that have direct connections to the mosque, one of whom, Mustafa al Sayyed Issa, was chairman of Sweden’s Young Muslims during this time. He was succeeded as chairman by Rashid Musa.
Another of the sons is active with the Ibn Rushd Study Association, where Lamia el Amri is operations director. El Amri is chairman of Islamic Relief Sweden as well as vice chairman of Islamic Relief Worldwide.
In 2019, in a legal process decided in the administrative appeals court, Sweden’s Young Muslims lost the right to state assistance, since the court judged that they did not live up to the democratic criteria of the MUCF. The higher administrative court confirmed the judgment by denying permission to appeal.
In a similar action in 2011, Mehmet Kaplan, a member of Parliament for the Green Party, together with Maria Ferm, simultaneously argued that supporting organizations like ISIS was a so-called opinion crime, which should not be punished. Something that found support from, among others, SSU (Sweden Social Democrats Youth Association), Olof Palma’s International Center, and Social Democrats for Faith and Solidarity. All three of these side organizations openly support, among others, Ship to Gaza and the West Sahara organization Polisario.
The Green Party openly made a motion to this effect, in motion 2011/12Ju399. This view became more public in Almedalen in 2014 when one of the sponsors, Mehmet Kaplan, wanted to minimalize traveling Swedish jihadists as being “engaged youth”.
Today Mehmet Kaplan is a leader of Swedish Muslim Aid, which has among its members someone who was convicted in Sweden for the financing of and recruiting for ISIS. Maria Ferm is currently state secretary for the Prime Minister’s Office of Coordination, Prime Minister’s Committee, and is one of the state secretaries who sort out which information ends up on the Prime Minister’s desk.
Muslim Aid and Mehmet Kaplan currently run several projects together with the Swedish Church within the framework of “A World of Neighbors” in Järvafältet (a forested area) in Stockholm (northern suburbs).
The Swedish Church project “A World of Neighbors” has support from Social Democrat groups in the Church assembly, which is led by Jesper Eneroth and where, among others, Ulla Löfven, is a regular member.
|1.||Sida: Sweden International Development Authority|
|2.||MUCF: Authority for Youth and Civil Society Issues|
|3.||Ulla Löfven is a Swedish politician and wife of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.