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Terry Glavin: The curious case of Khaled Barakat


Israeli intelligence shouldn’t be alone in situating Barakat, who resides in Vancouver, within the higher echelons of the PFLP’s chain of command

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He’s a high-ranking member of a Palestinian terrorist group greatest identified for dramatic airplane hijackings, suicide bombings and a 2014 bloodbath at a Jerusalem synagogue that left a number of worshippers severely injured and 5 useless, together with Toronto-born rabbi Howie Rothman. That’s how Israeli intelligence businesses describe 51-year-old Khaled Barakat, who has lived in Canada on and off for practically 20 years and at present resides in Vancouver.

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It’s not how Barakat’s supporters describe the person. Barakat’s associates say he’s a Palestinian rights activist and a contract author who’s being victimized by an Israeli marketing campaign to intimidate human-rights organizations. I’ve made a number of makes an attempt to talk with Barakhat over the previous two weeks. On Monday, an middleman lastly knowledgeable me that Barakat wished me to know that “he is unavailable for discussions” with me.

For a number of years, the Israeli safety service Shin Bet has been unequivocal: Barakat is an lively and senior member of the Peoples Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a listed terrorist group in North America, the European Union, Japan and Australia. Canada listed the PFLP within the renewal of Canada’s nationwide safety legal guidelines following the Al Qaida terror assaults of September 11, 2001, the identical yr a PFLP murderer murdered Israeli cupboard minister Rehavam Zeevi.

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And but there Barakat was, solely final week in Vancouver, presenting himself for an interview with the Khomeinist English-language propaganda channel, Press TV.

Israeli intelligence businesses will not be alone in situating Barakat within the higher echelons of the PFLP’s chain of command. He is described in a number of Palestinian information web sites as both a “leader of the PFLP” or a member of the PFLP’s governing central committee. Israeli intelligence businesses say they’ve intercepted PFLP paperwork that additionally establish him as a key operative within the group.

All this has been made identified to Canadian intelligence businesses, law-enforcement authorities and senior federal politicians.

Still, for years now, Barakat has been showing at rallies and conferences throughout Canada. He’s travelled to and from Europe a number of instances as effectively.

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Barakat’s attorneys are at present engaged in a courtroom battle in Germany, in search of to overturn a four-year ban on entry imposed on him two years in the past after he was detained in Berlin in 2019, and later deported, owing particularly to what the German Interior Ministry referred to as Barakat’s proclivity for violent, antisemitic rhetoric. An affiliation of attorneys opposing Germany’s actions within the case says there’s “no evidence that Khaled Barakat is an official of the PFLP,” and that Barakat denies it.

In December, 2015, Barakat was in Brussels, Belgium, for demonstrations to mark the anniversary of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, a very bloody episode within the on-again, off-again struggle between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip. Barakat attended the Brussels occasions in his capability because the coordinator for the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat, the PFLP secretary-general at present serving a 30-year jail time period in Israel arising from his 2008 conviction on a wide range of terrorism offences.

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In June, 2016, Barakat was in Bulgaria to attend the funeral of Omar Nayef Zayed, whose mysterious demise within the Palestinian embassy within the Bulgarian capital of Sofia continues to ask hypothesis that implicates both or each the Palestinian Authority and Mossad, Israel’s nationwide intelligence company.

Just final October, Barakat travelled to Madrid to assist manage the “Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement” convention, bringing collectively militants dedicated to a rejection of the Palestinian Authority’s cooperation with Israel and the “resistance by any means necessary” standpoint counselled by the PFLP.

Established as an armed Marxist-Leninist motion in 1967, the PFLP’s hard-line opposition to lodging with Israel has left the group on the outer fringes of Palestinian militancy ever because the Palestinian Liberation Organization signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. The PFLP’s major monetary and political backers these days are Bashar Assad’s regime in Damascus, Khomeinist Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

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Barakat is intimately related to a company referred to as the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, a company Israeli intelligence businesses name a PFLP “proxy” that capabilities as the phobia group’s abroad recruitment, fundraising and propaganda arm. And right here’s the place you’d assume issues get particularly awkward for Barakat and Samidoun, and Canada, too.

On February 28 final yr, Israeli Defence Minister Benjamin Gantz signed an order designating Samidoun a terrorist group. In asserting the order, Israel’s National Bureau for Counter-Terror Financing acknowledged that Barakat is central to Samidoun’s operations:  “Representatives of the organization are active in many countries in Europe and North America, led by Khaled Barakat, who is part of the leadership of PFLP abroad. Barakat is involved with establishing militant cells and motivating terrorist activity in Judea & Samaria [the West Bank] and abroad.”

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Three days later, on March 3, 2021, the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network was formally registered by the federal Corporations Canada company beneath the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act. Samidoun’s tackle was listed as a publish field on Commercial Drive, in East Vancouver.

By then, the Israeli international ministry and Jewish advocacy teams in Canada had been dropping their endurance. B’nai Brith has developed a thick file of correspondence going again to January 2020, warning a number of cupboard ministers (most of whom have since been shuffled to different portfolios) of its view that it seems as if the PFLP has “inexplicably been allowed to set up shop in this country.”

Early final yr, Israel proposed a briefing beneath the information-sharing phrases of the 2014 Canada-Israel strategic partnership settlement, to debate the state of affairs. The April assembly introduced collectively greater than 50 Israeli and Canadian officers, together with representatives from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and the Canadian Border Services Agency.

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Israeli ambassador Ronen Hoffman instructed me he had “the utmost trust in the Canadian authorities” and that Israeli-Canadian cooperation on countering terrorism is being dealt with by professionals. But it’s not as if the ambassador is content material with Samidoun’s capability to safe Canada’s formal recognition as a real non-profit company on this nation.

“It’s highly alarming that modern terror organizations, in their tactics of concealment and disguise, have methodically adopted pseudonyms from the world of human rights and civil society organizations to hide behind.”

B’nai Brith chief government officer Michael Mostyn shouldn’t be so reticent. His group’s most up-to-date effort was a January 12 letter despatched on to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, declaring that Ottawa’s inattention was “inexcusable.” Mostyn says Samidoun’s registry ought to be revoked and the group ought to be dissolved.

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Last month, Samidoun’s associate group in France, the Collectif Palestine Vaincra (CPV), was disbanded by a decree signed by French President Emmanuel Macron. The group’s dissolution was approved beneath sections of the French safety regulation banning teams that provoke discrimination, hatred or violence based mostly on ethnicity, nationality, race, or faith and interact in acts that incite terrorism.

Israeli authorities say Shin Bet obtained PFLP paperwork throughout a raid of the PFLP’s workplaces in Ramallah in 2019 that recommend the PFLP expects its affiliation with Samidoun to be kind of clandestine. According to these paperwork, the connections in Canada are so shut that that Barakat was reprimanded by his PFLP comrades for insufficiently distancing the PFLP from Samidoun.

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In its filings with Corporations Canada, Samidoun listed three administrators: Thomas Gerhard Hofland of Amstelveen, the Netherlands, Joe Catron, of Flushing, New York, and Charlotte Lynne Kates, of Vancouver. Kates is Barakat’s spouse.

The Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy says Kates is Samidoun’s “international coordinator,” and Barakat’s political activism is functionally indistinguishable from Samidoun’s campaigns on behalf of PFLP prisoners. Barakat’s “Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat,” as an illustration, seems for all intents and functions a Samidoun marketing campaign. Barakat and Kates journey collectively in Europe, and Kates provides speeches on the similar occasions that Barakat provides speeches.

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Barakat’s residency standing in Canada is unclear. An on-line Arab information website that interviewed him in November 2020 reported that Barakat was born within the village of Dahiyat al-Barid on the outskirts of Jerusalem in 1971, and went on to dwell in a number of Arab and European nations, and later the United States, till his residency allow was revoked and he was deported in 2003. Around that point, Barakat began exhibiting up in Vancouver “radical” circles. The No One Is Illegal group lists Barakat as a founding member, and Barakat was exhibiting up as a Palestinian pupil activist on the University of British Columbia in 2004.

Kates’ standing is equally unclear. An American citizen, Kates had already turn into one thing of a celeb radical in New Jersey when she was a teen. She was concerned in a dramatic schism amongst Palestinian activists at Rutgers University, the place she accomplished a regulation diploma earlier than exhibiting up in Vancouver a few decade in the past.

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Shimon Fogel, president and chief government officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, mentioned the state of affairs is untenable. “The links between the PFLP, a listed terrorist entity in Canada, and Samidoun, are clear. We are deeply troubled that the founder and leader of Samidoun, Khaled Barakat, and his wife Charlotte Kates are able to lead Samidoun from Canada with apparent impunity,” Fogel instructed me. “This should be shocking to all Canadians.”

Two weeks in the past once I first tried to succeed in Barakat by way of Samidoun’s e mail tackle, what I obtained was an nameless response: “Khaled Barakat is not a member of Samidoun, although he is someone for whom we have a great amount of respect.” The e mail directed me to Samidoun’s statements in assist of Barakat’s authorized case in Germany, and statements to the impact that the group wouldn’t be intimidated by Israel’s designation of Samidoun as a terrorist group.

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“Israel’s ongoing attacks on Palestinian advocacy and human rights organizations, including Samidoun, have unfortunately become routine. We see this not only in the case of Samidoun but also in the case of the six large NGOs similarly designated only months later. This is a transparent attempt to suppress advocacy for Palestinian rights that holds Israel accountable internationally.”

This is a reference to the Israeli authorities’s controversial resolution to outlaw a number of non-governmental organizations final yr on the grounds that they had been being manipulated by Palestinian terrorist teams, and charitable funds had been being diverted to outlawed organizations. The designations had been loudly protested by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – however Samidoun’s terrorist itemizing was unrelated to these circumstances.

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I despatched two additional requests, particularly asking to talk with Kates. Several days handed, then this: “Khaled Barakat is not a member of Samidoun, as previously noted.” Shortly after reaching out to Barakat by Facebook messenger I obtained one other nameless response from Samidoun’s e mail account: “We are familiar with your previous work that seeks to smear and attack Palestine advocacy in Canada, as well as the fact that you have been honoured and lauded for ‘exposing BDS,’” referring to worldwide campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions geared toward Israel. The reply once more was a transparent ‘no.’

Meanwhile, Jewish neighborhood leaders had been shocked on the antisemitic slogans and requires violence that had been cheered throughout an anti-Israel rally at Dundas Square in Toronto on Monday. “This hate rally is particularly troubling given that later this week, Jewish communities around the world will pause to mark Yom HaShoah,” mentioned CIJA nationwide board chair Gail Adelson-Marcovitz, referring to Holocaust memoriam. “We are equally alarmed by the apparent involvement of terror-tied organizations, like Samidoun.”

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