The European-Funded NGO PFLP Network
Click to read the full report in PDF version.
- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. The PFLP is involved in suicide bombings, hijackings, and assassinations, among other terrorist activities targeting civilians.
- Many European countries fund a network of organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the PFLP, and others with a substantial presence of employees and officials linked to the PFLP. The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) include Addameer, Al-Haq, Alternative Information Center (AIC), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committee (HWC), Stop the Wall, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC).
- The NGO ties to the PFLP range from establishment and operation of NGOs by the PFLP itself to NGO officials and staffers being convicted of terrorism charges by Israeli courts. Some of these individuals have been denied entry and exit visas by Israeli (and Jordanian) authorities due to security concerns. A significant number of these NGO officials hold multiple positions in various organizations, indicating the close connections and relationships between these groups.
- Donors to the NGOs include the EU, the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Ireland, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland, and the United Nations. Continued funding raises serious questions about due diligence and evaluation on the part of the governments and the UN, as well as compliance with domestic and international laws.
- One such example is the NGO Addameer, which is funded by Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and others. Addameer campaigns in support of Palestinians convicted of security offenses. This agenda should have demanded close scrutiny and due diligence before any grants were provided.
- The clear affiliation between these NGOs and the PFLP requires immediate attention and concrete measures on the part of European funders, ensuring that funds do not go to groups affiliated with the PFLP or other terrorist entities.
- All ongoing funding should be frozen until funders undertake independent reviews of the processes that allowed funding for these NGOs. Reviews must be conducted in conjunction with national and international policing and security services as well as with Israeli counterparts.
- Israeli elected and public officials should take up the issue of the PFLP-NGO network with their European colleagues to discuss guidelines and ensure that funding does not reach terror-affiliated groups.
Introducing the Problem: Human Rights NGOs in Conflict Areas
The abuse of human rights organizations in conflict zones is a constant global concern. NGOs face significant challenges in achieving their humanitarian goals in areas controlled by terror organizations. Further, such NGOs themselves face the danger of infiltration by terrorist groups seeking to exploit their resources (see the case of World Vision in Gaza below). In other instances, the terrorist groups establish new NGOs in order to gain both political legitimacy and access to public resources.
The European Union has recognized this problem, at least in theory, stating, “NGOs are considered ‘subjects at risk’ in the ML [money laundering] framework, either as fronts for terrorist organizations that raise and transfer funds, or as legitimate enterprises that indirectly support the aims of terrorist organizations.”
However, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as in other conflicts, the lines between terrorist organizations and NGOs operating in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza have been blurred.
The exploitation of NGOs by terrorist groups was highlighted in the August 2016 announcement by the Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) that Mohammad Halabi, manager of World Vision operations in Gaza, had funneled 60% of World Vision’s Gaza budget to the Hamas terrorist group.
The PFLP and its NGO Links
Several NGOs with links to terrorist groups receive major funding from European governments. In particular, activists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have ties to several prominent NGOs including: Addameer, Al-Haq, Alternative Information Center (AIC), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committee (HWC), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). There is no evidence that these links are considered in the funding processes of the donor governments.
Founded by George Habash in 1967, the PFLP is a secular Palestinian Marxist-Leninist organization, originally supported by the former Soviet Union and China. PFLP members have carried out numerous terrorist acts since its founding, and the group was the first Palestinian organization to hijack airplanes in the 1960s and 1970s. Most notably, the group was responsible for the assassination of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rechavam Ze’evi in 2001, and its members joined with the Baader-Meinhof Gang (a West German radical group) to hijack an Air France Tel Aviv-bound flight in 1976, landing it in Entebbe, Uganda. The PFLP is also responsible for suicide bombings in Israel, and members of the organization took credit for the house invasion and murder of the Fogel family in 2011 and the massacre at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood in 2014 where five people were murdered. The PFLP is designated a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel, and has reportedly received support from the Syrian and Iranian governments.
As this report shows, the NGOs that have ties to the PFLP in various ways are funded by a number of European governments and international organizations. These funders include, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway, EU, Ireland, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the United Nations. It is unclear what, if any, due diligence was conducted by the countries and organizations regarding the PFLP links prior to funding.
NGO ties to the PFLP range from establishment and operation by the PFLP itself to NGO officials and staffers being convicted of terrorism charges by Israeli courts. Some individuals have been denied entry and exit visas by Israeli (and Jordanian) authorities due to security concerns stemming from PFLP roles. A significant number of these NGO officials hold multiple positions in various organizations, indicating the close connections and relationships between these groups.
This report will demonstrate the ties between various NGO employees, the PFLP terrorist group, and European supporters, raising questions as to the conformity of this funding with legal requirements in these countries.
NGOs With PFLP Ties
Addameer campaigns in support of Palestinians convicted of security offenses and imprisoned by Israeli authorities. In practice, the NGO lobbies international frameworks “to ask them to intervene to hold Israel accountable and pressure it to change its policies and practices.” The organization refers to the Israeli army as the “Israeli Occupying Forces,” and accuses Israel of “collective punishment,” “war crimes,” and a “policy of using Palestinian prisoners as pawns to achieve political and military gains.”
Addameer is an official PFLP “affiliate.” The NGO’s chairperson and co-founder, Abdul-latif Ghaith, was banned by Israel from travelling internationally due to his alleged membership in the PFLP; he was also banned from entering the West Bank from 2011 to 2015. Abdul-latif Ghaith was described in an article posted by Miftah (another Palestinian NGO) as a representative of the PFLP.
Khalida Jarrar, Addameer’s vice-chairperson, is a senior PFLP official. On April 1, 2015, Jarrar was placed in administrative detention by Israeli security forces. On April 15, 2015 she was indicted for various offenses including active membership in a terrorist organization (the PFLP) and inciting violence through a call to kidnap Israeli soldiers to be used as “bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian prisoners.” Jarrar accepted a plea bargain and, according to reports, was convicted on “one count of belonging to an illegal organization and another of incitement.” She received a 15-month prison sentence with an additional 10-month suspended sentence. Jarrar was released from prison on June 3, 2016.
Addameer board member Yousef Habash is apparently the nephew of PFLP founder George Habash. Israel prevented Yousef Habash from leaving the West Bank from 2011 to 2012. He is also a member of the BDS National Committee.
Ayman Nasser, an Addameer researcher, was arrested on October 15, 2012 for alleged links to the PFLP. An indictment was filed attributing a number of offenses relating to membership in the PFLP and activities on behalf of the organization. On June 3, 2013 the Judea Military Court convicted Nasser, who admitted to being a member of the terrorist organization and for providing services to the organization.
On February 23, Anas Barghouthi, a lawyer for Addameer, pleaded guilty to membership in the PFLP.
Sumoud Saadat, Addameer’s documentation officer, is the daughter of PFLP general secretary Ahmad Saadat – who is serving a 30 year prison sentence in Israel due to his terrorist activity.
Suha Al Bargouti, Addameer’s treasurer, is the wife of alleged PFLP member Ahmed Qatamesh.
|Switzerland||Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation||2020||CHF 135,763|
|Norway||Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs||2016-2015||NOK 1,800,000|
|SODePAZ via Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa||2016-2018||€81,248|
|Municipality of Barcelone||2017||€162,712|
|Autonomous community of Navarre||2020||€120,000|
|Municipality of Vitoria-Gasteiz||2016-2017||€68,332|
|Municipality of Rivas-Vaciamadrid||2016||€22,630|
|Municipality of San Sebastián||2020-2022||€48,477|
Al-Haq describes itself as a prominent Palestinian human rights organization. The evidence shows that the NGO is a leader of anti-Israel “lawfare” campaigns (the abuse of courts for political ends), including several cases in the UK, Canada, and other countries. Al-Haq also lobbies the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the prosecution of Israelis and is a leader of BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanction) campaigns.
Al-Haq is a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Habitat International Coalition (HIC), and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO).
Al Haq’s General Director, Shawan Jabarin, has alleged ties to the PFLP terrorist organization and, as such, has been denied exit visas by Israel and Jordan.
According to a 1995 Israeli submission to the UN, Jabarin was convicted in 1985 for recruiting members for the PFLP. Jabarin was also found guilty of arranging PFLP training outside Israel and was sentenced by Israeli courts to 24-months imprisonment, of which he served nine. In 1994, Jabarin was again arrested for alleged links and placed in administrative detention for six months. An Israeli statement to the UN notes that he “had not discontinued his terrorist involvement and maintains his position in the leadership of the PFLP.”
In 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected his appeal to go abroad stating that “The objections by security forces are all rooted in security concerns based on classified information, showing that the petitioner is a senior activist in the PFLP terror group….the current petitioner is apparently acting as a manner of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, acting some of the time as the CEO of a human rights organization, and at other times as an activist in a terror organization which has not shied away from murder and attempted murder, which have nothing to do with rights…”
In 2009, Jabarin was again prohibited by the Israeli authorities from travelling abroad. Jabarin appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court which rejected his appeal, stating, “We found that the material pointing to the petitioner’s involvement in the activity of terrorist entities is concrete and reliable material. We also found that additional negative material concerning the petitioner has been added even after his previous petition was rejected.”
In addition to his role at Al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin is a Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and is on the Middle East Advisory Board of Human Rights Watch (HRW).
|Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Norway)||$710,000||2014-2016|
|Bread for the World (Germany)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Christian Aid (United Kingdom)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Diakonia (Sweden)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Belgium||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Heinrich Boll Stiftung (Germany)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|ICCO (Netherlands)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|AECID (Spain)||€85,338||Not disclosed|
|UNDP||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Open Society Institute (US)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
Health Work Committee/Union of Health Work Committees
Health Work Committee and Union of Health Work Committees are Palestinian health organizations that are active in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Gaza, respectively, that have each have a history of anti-Israel activities.
In an open letter (titled “Stop the Genocide”) written during the 2014 Gaza war, HWC alleged that, “The innocent citizens of the Gaza Strip have been facing terrifying genocide committed against them by the Israeli occupying forces.” The letter called for the “Palestinian Authority to submit lawsuits to international courts and organizations to bring criminal Zionists to trial.”
HWC’s NGO and government partners include Diakonia, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO – the Netherlands), the European Union, and Oxfam.
Former executive director Dr. Majed Nassar has alleged ties to the PFLP. According to a 2007 document, Israel has prevented Dr. Majed Nassar from traveling “since 2001,” a decision upheld by the HCJ.
Dr. Majed Nassar is also Deputy Director of the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC) and has been cited as a PFLP member. UHWC itself is a PFLP affiliated health committee active in Gaza, as identified by USAID and in Palestinian documents. Nassar also served as an official with Defense for Children International- Palestine (DCI-P) and is a member of the board of directors at the Alternative Information Center (AIC). From 2013 to 2014, Nassar served as Director of Programs in the West Bank for the British NGO Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
Daoud Ghoul, director of development projects and programs in Jerusalem, was convicted by an Israeli court of being a PFLP member. The Israeli High Court of Justice decision on his matter [19274-07-15] states that, “The defendant decided to join the organization [PFLP]… and to this day is a member… according to his actions described above, the defendant was a member of a terrorist organization…Due to the closure of the [Nidal]center, the organization began to operate covertly through the ‘Health union committees – Jerusalem’…On 09/06/15 the defense minister announced that the association is an unlawful association…”
The late Dr. Ahmad Maslamani, co-founder of the Health Work Committees of the West Bank, was a “Central Committee member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” (as stated by the PFLP itself).
Dr. Rabah Muhanna, “member of the Political Bureau of the PFLP and leader of its branch in Gaza,” was head of the UHWC (2001) and was one of the organizations founders.
Yousef Habash, discussed above (Addameer), is the public relations officer at UHWC.
HWC’s Youth Development Program, “A community, cultural, and social development program that provide services to Jerusalemite youth through ‘Nidal Center’ in the old city of Jerusalem,” was closed by Israeli authorities from 2009 to 2012 due to its ties to the PFLP. The Nidal Center encompasses HWC’s Kanan project, a project dedicated to strengthening “the social and political participation channels of the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem through enhancing the capacity of the youth…” and implemented by six political NGOs, among them Defense for Children International – Palestine, Alternative Information Center (AIC), ACSUR, and Mundubat.
|European Commission’s Non-State Actors (NSA) Program||€356,350.66||February 2014 to January 2016|
|World Vision (Australia)||Not disclosed||2014|
|Barcelona Municipality (Spain)||Not disclosed||2014|
|Sodepau Organization (Spain)||Not disclosed||2014|
|Oxfam (Australia)||Not disclosed||2014|
|Basque Government (Spain)||Not disclosed||2014|
|Paz con Dignidad (Spain)||Not disclosed||2014|
|Mandubat (Spain)||Not disclosed||2014|
|Diakonia (Sweden)||Not disclosed||2012|
The Alternative Information Center
The Alternative Center (AIC) is a radical political organization founded “by Palestinian and Israeli grassroots activists as a binational organisation to promote the human and national rights of the Palestinian people.” The organization accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid-like discrimination,” and of being a “settler colonialist… intransigent, racist and militarized… regime.” AIC additionally supports and promotes BDS. AIC is a registered Israeli NGO, and in 2016 the Israeli Registrar of Non Profits requested that the organization be served a liquidation order by the court due to it “operating illegally, in violation of its declared objectives and statutes.”
Prior to the organization’s founding, AIC co-founder Michael Warschawski was a leader of “Matzpen,” the anti-Zionist Trotskyite organization. Warschawski was jailed in the 1990s for publishing an informational pamphlet for the PFLP terror group (verdict on file).
The co-director of AIC, Nassar Ibrahim, is also the former editor of El Hadaf – the PFLP’s weekly publication.
AIC Board of Directors member (2008) Rifat Odeh Kassis has links to multiple NGOs with PFLP ties and was arrested and imprisoned several times by Israel. Kassis is the founder of DCI-P (see below); the general coordinator of Kairos Palestine, a major BDS effort steeped in Christian theology; and was a member of an advisory group for DanChurchAid.
|Basque Government (Spain)||126,823||2014|
|Geneva Municipality (Switzerland)||209,023||2014|
Defense for Children International – Palestine
Defense for the Children International – Palestine’s (DCI-P) mission is, “Promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as other international, regional, and local standards.” DCI-P is, however, involved in BDS and lawfare campaigns, and frequently publishes false and unverifiable information and accusations regarding alleged “child abuse” by Israeli security forces in its reports.
Several DCI-P board members have apparent ties to the PFLP. Mahmoud Jiddah, reportedly a “PFLP member,” was imprisoned by Israel for 17 years for carrying out “grenade attacks” against Israeli civilians in Jerusalem in 1968. Hassan Abed Aljawad is similarly described as a Bethlehem-based “PFLP activist,” or “leader,” representing the PFLP at public events. Fatima Daana, an attorney and board secretary, is apparently the widow of Raed Nazzal, the former commander of the PFLP’s armed wing (the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades) in Qalqilya. Nazzal was responsible for several terrorist attacks and was killed in 2002 in a shootout with IDF forces.
Previous board members had demonstrable PFLP ties as well. From 2007 to 2014, Shawan Jabarin – an alleged PFLP activist and director of Al-Haq (see above) – was a member of DCI-P’s Board of Directors. Alleged PFLP affiliates Nassar Ibrahim and Dr. Majed Nassar (see above) were also on the Board.
Hashem Abu Maria, a DCI-P employee, was hailed by the PFLP as a “comrade” and a “leader” after his death in 2014.
|Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Norway)||$578,000||2014-2016|
|ICCO and KerkinActie (the Netherlands)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Bread for the World-EED (Germany)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederlands (the Netherlands)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|ARCI Cultura e Sviluppo (Italy)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Mundubat (Spain)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Broederlijk Delen (Belgium)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|UNDP||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|HEKS (Switzerland)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|World Vision||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|The United Church of Canada||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|TIPH||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|The United Methodist Church||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|UNICEF||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|French Consulate||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Open Society||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|MANARA||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Geneva Canton (Switzerland)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
Stop the Wall (the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign)
Stop the Wall “has been the main national grassroots body mobilizing and organizing the collective efforts against the Apartheid Wall..” The NGO falsely accuses Israel of “collective punishment,” “repression,” “restricting movement,” “water theft,” and a “ghettoization project.”
This NGO is a leader in national and international BDS efforts such as promoting military embargoes against Israel. Stop the Wall has called for BDS measures against Israeli security company Elbit for playing a “key role in the construction of the Wall and provid[ing] the drones used in ‘targeted assassinations’,” as well as Israeli state owned water company Mekorot for allegedly “implementing ‘water apartheid’ on Palestinians.”
Salah Khawaja, a “leader” with Stop the Wall was “an active member of the blacklisted Popular Front Liberation Party.” He was arrested by Israeli security forces seven times between 1983 and 1992 and served five years in prison between 1992 and 1997.
Khawaja was arrested again on October 26, 2016 and as of November 13, 2016 is still being held.
Khawaja is also a “member of the secretariat of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” which purports to coordinate the “coalition of Palestinian organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement.”
On May 8, 2012, the IDF raided Stop the Wall offices in Ramallah, and confiscated a number of computers.
|Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Norway)||$65,000 (via Palestinian Farmers Union)||2014-2016|
Palestinian Center for Human Rights
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is a leader in the anti-Israel “lawfare” movement and has tried to have Israeli politicians and officials arrested in England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, and New Zealand. The organization has also filed for punitive damages against Israeli officials and companies doing business with Israel in the United States. Since the 2009 Gaza war, PCHR has conducted an ongoing lobby campaign at the ICC to prosecute Israelis for alleged “war crimes.”
Raji Sourani, founder and director of the PCHR, was “prohibited from leaving Palestine (sic) from 1977 to 1990.” In an interview, Sourani admitted that he served “a three-year sentence [1979-1982] imposed by an Israeli court which convicted him of membership in the illegal Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine…” Sourani was imprisoned an additional three times “in 1985 and 1986…” and held in administrative detention in 1988. From 1986 to 1987 he was “restricted from legal work for one year by an Israeli military decision issued by the Israeli Military Governor.” He was also denied a US entry visa and was thus unable to travel to participate in the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) in 20121. In February 2014, the PFLP organized a ceremony in Gaza honoring Sourani for winning the “Alternative Noble Prize.” Dr. Rabah Muhana (see UHWC above), a member of the PFLP Political Bureau, delivered a speech at the prize ceremony.
|European Union||€320,187 for a project with PMRS||2018-2020|
|€411,861 for a project with Oxfam Novib||2014-2016|
|Christian Aid Ireland||€70,000||2018|
|Municipality of San Sebastián||€68,921||2014-2016|
|Al Quds Association||€80,000||2016|
Union of Agricultural Work Committees
The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) describes itself as a “non-profit organization by a group of volunteers and agronomists” in response to what it calls “the vulnerable socio-political circumstance of farmers that resulted from occupation policies in confiscating lands and water in the early eighties and therefore directly harmed the interests of farmers and Palestinians.”
In practice, the organization utilizes highly biased and demonizing rhetoric,
UAWC is identified by Fatah as an official PFLP “affiliate,” and by USAID as the “agricultural arm” of the PFLP. According to academic scholar Glenn E. Robinson, UAWC was founded in 1986 by “agronomists loosely affiliated with the PFLP.”
Clearly demonstrating its terrorist ties, UAWC mentions that it organized “a solidarity day with the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Saadat…” The “solidarity day” featured Muhammad Bakri, executive director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Gaza, and celebrated “the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi” (an attack committed by the PFLP).
Bashir al Khairi, former President of the UAWC board of trustees, “was convicted of terrorist offences in 1969 and gaoled for 15 years.” Khairi was the head of the PFLP political bureau.
The issue of foreign government funding (via World Vision Australia) to UAWC and its links to the PFLP was highlighted by the Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin, which submitted a report on the matter to the Australian government.
|Rosa Luxemburg Foundation||Not disclosed||2014-2015|
|Australia (via AusAID)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Norwegian People’s Aid||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|The Netherlands||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Italy||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Japan||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|UNDP||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Catholic Relief Services||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|NGO Development Center (Palestinian Territories)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|World Vision (United Kingdom)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Action Against Hunger||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|International Orthodox Christian Charities (US)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Grassroots International (US)||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|