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America's entanglement with Israel

The Tunisia Massacre and the Irish-ISIS Connection

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Maidhc Ó Cathail

The Passionate Attachment

June 30, 2015

“The murder of three Irish citizens at a tourist resort in north Africa has brought Islamic terrorism much closer to home,” Cormac O’Keeffe observes in the Irish Examiner. “Until now we have looked on in shock, and revulsion, at terror attacks targeting other Europeans, either across the Middle East and North Africa, or on European soil. However, with the slaughter on the beaches of Tunisia of Lorna Carty, and Laurence and Martina Hayes, this is a landmark moment for this country.”

The report continues:

Martina’s brother Billy Kelly told the media: “We feel bitter. Irish people have nothing to do with these terrorists. The people who did this are evil rats.”

“Ireland has now been dragged into a terrible reality, one that much of Europe — Spain, Britain, and France among them — has had to live with for more than a decade,” O’Keeffe adds.

Although the Irish Examiner reporter appears to be merely stating the obvious, Ireland had been close to Islamic terrorism long before the Tunisia massacre. And contrary to the bereaved Mr. Kelly’s sincere belief that the Irish have nothing to do with these evil rats, some Irish people have had quite a lot to do with these terrorists.

A CNN study published in September 2014 revealed that Ireland is second only to Finland among countries with the greatest percentage of Muslims who have gone to fight in Syria. With 0.07 percent of its 43,000 Muslim population having joined the global jihad against Assad, there are four times as many Irish Muslims as British Muslims fighting in Syria, proportionately speaking.

While most Irish are blissfully unaware of these disturbing facts, one Irish activist who is a keen observer of Western-backed terrorism against Libya and Syria has tried to raise awareness of Ireland’s role in global jihadism. In a Facebook post, connects the dots absent from mainstream coverage:

The following image provides information regarding an Irish citizen’s connection to an alleged leader of ISIS in North Africa and a terror funder in Syria. However it is unlikely that the Irish media will want to mention this fact as they promoted this guy as a “freedom fighter” while he was serving the NATO agenda in destroying Libya and Syria, but the chickens are coming home to roost.

Mahdi al-Harati Montage

Moreover, not only did this Irish citizen, Mahdi al-Harati, serve the NATO agenda in Libya and Syria, an Irish tabloid in 2011 had outed “the gentle Irishman” as an asset of American intelligence.

According to a “you couldn’t make this up” Sunday World report,

A gang of Irish traveller thieves are in the middle of a holy war – after liberating €200,000 cash destined for Libyan rebels. In a tale worthy of the John le Carre thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the scam artists from Rathkeale in Co Limerick hit the jackpot when they robbed a home in Dublin’s Firhouse. As well as a haul of family jewels, they stumbled upon €200,000 in €500 bills hidden in the hot press. But the homeowner was well-known Irish Libyan freedom fighter Mahdi al-Harati, who was one of the leaders of the bloody revolt against Gaddafi. He has told cops that the cash was a gift from US secret agents to aid the war effort in Libya. Now the money trail has led to the traveller strongholds in Rathkeale, where €500 notes have been popping up all over the place. A gang of rogue Irish travellers is in the frame for the bizarre robbery of €200,000 in cash donated by US spies to Libyan freedom fighters. In an astonishing tale worthy of the John le Carre novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the cash that was destined for rebels fighting Colonel Gaddafi’s forces was stolen from a hot press in a Dublin house. Gardai are now investigating the extraordinary robbery which is being blamed on a traveller gang from the Limerick town of Rathkeale. An Irish freedom fighter who helped bring down Gaddafi’s hated regime in Libya has claimed that €200,000 cash stolen from his Dublin home was given to him by an American intelligence agency. The Sunday World can reveal that gardai are investigating the robbery of two envelopes containing €200,000 in €500 notes from the home of Mahdi al-Harati in Firhouse, south Dublin, and that the money trail is leading to the Rathkealers. Al-Harati was in Libya following the successful campaign that toppled Gaddafi when the rebel’s house was broken into on October 6.

The incredible curriculum vitae of the “soft-spoken Libyan-born Irish citizen” doesn’t end there either. Four days later, Indymedia Ireland reported:

Mahdi al-Harati has been well-known in antiwar and Palestine solidarity circles in Dublin over the years . He had been a passenger in the Challenger 1 ship last year when it attempted to break the seige of Gaza as part of the Free Gaza Flotilla . He was the last Irish member of the flotilla to arrive home after the Israeli raid and was given a hero’s reception at Dublin Airport by members of the IPSC and the IAWM [Irish Anti-War Movement]. According to an indymedia comment from last year written by Kev from the IPSC : “Freda Hughes of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomed his safe return and saluted his bravery: “Al Mahdi, like all of the Freedom Flotilla participants, is deserving of our praise for his courage in attempting to break the illegal siege of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged people there. We are all relieved that he is safely back in Ireland. We hope that his family, who we know were extremely worried about his health, can rest easy now and celebrate his return..”’

The very conscientious activists of the IPSC would never knowingly endorse someone like Mahdi al-Harati if they knew at the time what we now know about him, a source who knows both Freda and Kev[in] Hughes assured this writer.

Nevertheless, al-Harati’s subsequent involvement in jihadism in Libya and Syria allows Israel to now claim that it was justified in saying that some of those on board the Free Gaza Flotilla had ties to terrorism networks. They did not mention, however, that at least one of them was on the payroll of U.S. intelligence.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely-published writer and political analyst. He is also the creator and editor of the Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the US-Israeli relationship.

Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

June 30, 2015 at 9:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses

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  1. Hun

    July 1, 2015 at 5:56 am

  2. Certainly an interesting development. Not everything is as it appears, it would seem

    Richard Pascoe

    July 1, 2015 at 6:25 am

  3. Where is the proof that Abdelhakim Belhadj has joined ISIS? I mean, aside from a comment by a Fox News (far right news station) talking head, based on a tweet by someone who writes for The Blaze (a website run by far right racist conspiracist Gelnn Beck), a Washington Times (far right newspaper run by the Moonies) based on that same Blaze piece, and a GlobalResearch (lefty conspiracy site) piece based on the WT piece. These rightwing sites all have one thing in common, they hate the Obama administration, and they are trying to smear his foreign policy with anything they can.

    Even if he had joined ISIS (which, of course, in the murky world of MENA Islamist politics and pragmatism is certainly possible), that is in the last few weeks or months. This photo of Al Harati and Belhadj is from four years ago. Based on this alone, one cannot simply draw a line between Al Harati and ISIS, let alone the beach shootings in Tunisia.

    And to then draw a line *backwards* and say that Al Harati’s presence on the Freedom Flotilla (he was not on Challenger 1, by the way, he was on the Mavi Marmara) indicates that “Israel’s propaganda was right in claiming that some of those on board the Free Gaza Flotilla had ties to terrorism networks” is so absurd as to be almost funny, were you not doing Israel’s propaganda work for it.

    At the time of his kidnap in international waters by Israeli commando-pirates, no one knew what the future would hold. Indeed, There is ZERO proof that Harati was “linked to terrorism networks” in July 2010, at least seven months before he went to Libya, and two years before he met Sheikh al-Ajmi in Syria (the Sheikh was funding all sorts of groups on the political spectrum in Syria by the way, not just Al Nusra). You can speculate, sure if you like, but fact-free speculation isn’t journalism.

    None of this is say that Al Harati is nice guy. It’s merely to point out the flaws in this line of argument. No one (with the possible exception of Harati himself, though even that is not certain) could have known in July 2010 what Harati would be doing a year later, two years later, or that even today he would be the Mayor of Tripoli where he is collaborating with the EU to, in his own words, “repatriate thousands of migrants preventing them from reaching Italy”. That is a scandal worth highlighting about this great ‘freedom fighter’, himself an immigrant to Ireland.


    July 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm

  4. Why the need for anonymity, “Bedfelloes”?

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    July 1, 2015 at 3:20 pm

  5. Dear Bedfelloes:
    I want to point out that ISIS is only the latest manifestation within the al-Qaeda franchise and there are numerous references to the fact that Abdelhakim Belhadj was and is associated with al-Qaeda, an organisation which has been instrumentalized by the GCC, NATO and Israel in achieving their common shared geo-political objectives in the MENA region. Many years predating the time that Abdelhakim Belhadj and Mahdi al Harati were photographed together in the image used in the montage featured in the above article, he (Belhadj) had been a member of, the now defunct, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (al Qaeda) and had fought in Afghanistan among other places. He was later illegally rendered from Thailand back to Libya to be interrogated by the then Libyan government in part because NATO states wanted him questioned in regard to his al Qaeda activity. Somewhere along the line he supposedly recanted of his old ways and was eventually released by the then Libyan government. During the so called Arab Spring uprising in Libya he became the darling of the NATO set becoming the commander of the Tripoli Military Council. In one rare contemporary France 24 news broadcast (dated 09/09/2011) Abdelhakim Belhadj, and Irish citizens Mahdi al Harati and his bother-in-law Hussam al Najjar are all filmed together, the reporter covering the story cites the fact that “the CIA believes this camera shy man [Abdelhakim Belhadj] is a leader of al Qaeda”(1). Reference to a prior al Qaeda / Belhadj connection also comes via a contemporary leaked email (dated 14/09/2011) from the US private intelligence gathering agency STRATFOR, the email was sent by Anya Alfano, who before joining STRATFOR, worked with the U.S. Army, Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) and the U.S. Department of State. At the time of the email she was cultivating a friendship with Mahdi al Harati and notes that Mahdi al Harati “is a strong confederate of Belhaj” (2). Also of note is the fact that Abdelhakim Belhadj in October 2014 was cited as the current leader of the Libyan al-Watan Party which is Salafist in ideology and orientation, Salafist ideology is a core component of that which drives and informs al Qaeda ideology and was by extension the ideology that radicalised those who participated in the recent massacre in Tunisia and there is no hiding from that fact. A 2014 article from Lebanon’s al Akhbar newspaper, a left of centre secular news publication partnered with WikiLeaks, discusses the issues of ISIS in the Magreb region stating that Libya remains the largest reservoir of recruits for ISIS, and has been the main reservoir for various militant groups in Syria since the start of the uprising there more than three years ago. To quote “This is if we go by the testimony of one of the most prominent Libyan warlords: In a previous interview with the mayor of Tripoli Mahdi al-Harati, widely viewed as the right-hand man of Abdel Hakim Belhadj, former president of the Military Council in Tripoli, and current leader of the Libyan al-Watan Party, Harati said that he personally moved fighters from various countries of the Maghreb and Europe into Syria to “continue what we started in Libya.” Harati said he leads a group called al-Ummah Brigade, which operates out of Libyan coasts and airports controlled by the warlords of the February 17 conflict and runs training camps preparing recruits before they travel to Turkey and then Syrian”(3). The “al-Ummah Brigade” (Liwa al Ummah) rebel group founded by Mahdi al Harati for the purpose of fighting in Syria was said to number 5,000 fighters, after al Harati passed on control of the rebel (terrorist) group it was subsequently incorporated under the FSA (Free Syrian Army) grouping of rebel factions and went on to undertake joint operations with Jabhat al Nusra (al-Qaeda) in Syria and moreover before he passed on control of the group it published a manifesto of guiding principles paramount to which was the stated aim of founding a state in Syria based on Islamic principles (Syria is one, if not the last, remaining secular and religiously pluralist countries in the Middle East where a complex religious and ethnic mix of peoples existed largely in harmony with one another and where no one religious community was subjugated into second class citizenship by another). The overarching presentation of Mahdi al Harati in the Irish media as an Irish freedom fighting rebel engaged in some heroic struggle presented an entirely false view of this individual who was not concerned with preserving and building upon any aspect of the state which was secular or religiously pluralistic but rather he was working towards creating a form of state governance founded on a particular interpretation of religious doctrine that was both sectarian and bigoted both in Syria and Libya. Al Harati’s Irish media promoter and confidant, “journalist” Mary Fitzgerald in an article from August 2012 for states that “The Tripoli Brigade was one of the first rebel units into the Libyan capital in August 2011. Its fighters, who included many Libyan expatriates, had received training from Qatari special forces” (4) Now match that off with the fact that in 2013 and only after the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office had told all British citizens to leave Libya due to growing chaos in that country did Tim Marshal, then diplomatic editor of Sky news (a man who had been on the ground in Libya in 2011), admit in a blog post on the satellite broadcaster’s website as follows; “given that Qatar ensured the best weapons went to the jihadist groups during the Libyan uprising, the balance of power probably lies with the Islamists” (5). Returning to Mary Fitzgerald’s point that “The Tripoli Brigade was one of the first rebel units into the Libyan capital in August 2011,” as an aside, we must also ask at what level “The Tripoli Brigade” were involved in the massacres and violence against dark skinned Libyan citizens and foreign nationals from sub-Saharan Africa who were resident in the country for work but who suffered horrific brutality from rebels on foot of the entirely false pro rebel “activist” assertion that Gadaffi was employing “Black African” mercenaries to kill Libyan citizens, an assertion also repeated by Amnesty International in a letter to the UN’s Security Council when it called for intervention in Libya, only much later did Amnesty International acknowledge that the allegations, on subsequent investigation, were untrue but by that time the damage was done with many dead and thousands dispossessed of their property and forced to flee the country that had become their home.

    We now know the premise that Gaddafi was killing his own people was false and thus we must question just what support the so called uprising actually enjoyed among the Libyan public. Mahdi al Harati’s activities in Libya and later Syria should be viewed as a war crime but that will not happen as he was serving the agenda of NATO and that of the GCC and Israel in wreaking havoc and destruction on both countries and to expose al Hariati in the Irish media at this point is to expose their own complicity in the matter. There is no doubt that al Harati is directly connected to current and or former members of al Qaeda and that their agenda in Libya and Syria had nothing to do with the principles of reform or democratisation and this comes in to even sharper focus when his connections in Syria are examined. You seek to dismiss Mahdi al Harati’s connection to Sheikh al-Ajmi and say the Sheikh “was funding all sorts of groups on the political spectrum in Syria by the way, not just Al Nusra.” I can assure you that Sheikh al-Ajmi was certainly not funding picnics for orphans, this man was present in Latakkia during the period of August 2013 when the NATO backed FSA (Free Syrian Army) working in conjunction with Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda) perpetrated massacres across 8 Alawite village communities in which between 100 and 200 civilians were murdered and as many more women and children were taken into captivity (their whereabouts remain unknown), Sheikh al-Ajmi was also back in Latakkia in the coastal town of Kasab in late March of 2014 when NATO member state Turkey facilitated the invasion of that Syrian border town by a cohort of FSA (Free Syrian Army) and Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda) terrorists. All the town’s inhabitants (approximately 3,000) fled for their lives as they were of ethnic Armenian descent and of the Christian religion, the invasion took place within 3 weeks of the 99th anniversary of the Ottoman Turkish perpetrated genocide against the Armenians of 1915, back then the town had also been a subject of invasion with many of its inhabitants put on the forced death marches to Deir al Zour, no one in Kasab was going to wait around to see if Sheikh al-Ajmi would start distributing sweets and gifts. There were as many as 80 deaths recorded in Kasab in March of 2014 a combination of civilians and Syrian Army soldiers, 13 of the deaths were by ritualised slaughter ie. slitting of the throat and decapitation, a standard hallmark of al-Qaeda type executions (6). While in Syria Sheikh al-Ajmi also kept company with the notorious Abu Omar al-Shishani a Jabhat al Nusral (al Qaeda) leader who transferred his allegiance to ISIS when that most recent al-Qaeda manifestation became the terror group of the day (7). Of passing note is the fact that the notorious Abu Omar al-Shishani (al-Shishani – “The Chechen”) is not Chechen but rather he is Georgian and a former member of the Georgian Army who during his time in that army received training from the US military. Likewise during their time in Syria Mahdi al Harati and his brother in law also kept company with Zahran Alloush who later went on to become the commander of the “Islam Front” a conglomerate of 45,000 or so fighters designated by Obama as “moderates,” the designation “moderate” came about when the US and NATO could no longer carry on with the pretense that any of the fighting groups in Syria were secular. The Islamic Front under the command of Zahran Alloush were the principle party involved in the December 2013 invasion of the industrial workers city of Adra in Damascus province, their activities there encompassed a whole galaxy of the most appalling crimes against civilians including sectarian massacres based on the religious identity of victims also gang rape of women and sexual slavery and just one of many horrific accounts that emerged from the city was that the works employed at the government bakery were forced into the commercial bread ovens and roasted alive! Interestingly the UN’s Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Abuses in the Syrian Arab Republic, though informed, failed to report on these atrocities and likewise many other rebel atrocities as to do so would show that the Obama “moderates” were as extreme in their activities as any al-Qaeda group including ISIS (8)

    I do agree with your criticism regarding the Gaza Flotilla attack and that it is incorrect to assert that Israel may have been right about a terrorist presence on the flotilla, what occurred at that time may have been to both Turkish and Israeli advantage, it is worth remarking that despite all the rhetoric and supposed antagonism between Turkey, a NATO member state, and Israel over the attack that Turkish economic activity with Israel did not end but actually increased. The Turkish AKP (Muslim Brotherhood) party were well served by the attack in boosting their electoral support at home and likewise the Israel government boosted its support among its own electorate at home as a result of its atrocious actions, a win, win situation you might say. It’s not the first or last time that Palestine becomes a pawn in the games played by states in the region. As a pro-Palestinian campaigner I myself was onboard a boat for the second siege breaking journey to Gaza, it was those early smaller efforts that lead to the later flotilla and I would likewise like to attest to the fact that the IPSC (Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign) is an excellent organisation committed to supporting the rights of the Palestinian people based on human rights and international law and most certainly would not have envisaged what activities Mahdi al Harati would subsequently be involved in. There may be much more to the Mavi Marmara attack then we will ever know. That said the event allowed Mahdi al Harati to present himself as heroic victim and make him a credible individual among Arabs and Muslims when less than a year later he engages himself in “freedom fighting” activity in Libya all to the geo-political advantage of NATO, the GCC and Israel.

    You reference the fact that Mahdi al Harati as Mayor of Tripoli gave assurance to the EU that he would help prevent migrants from reaching Italy is indeed a scandal worth highlighting, but have you stopped to think that it is precisely and exactly because of what al-Harati and other like him did in places such as Libya and Syria and by extension what occurred in the Sahel and Iraq that the Mediterranean sea is now flooded with people trying to escape the chaos. A chaos orchestrated by NATO, the GCC and Israel and enacted by their regional proxies like Mahdi al Harati!

    By the way is it not also a fact that after taking on the role of Tripoli Mayor Mahdi al Haraty had, on one occasion, to flee a rival Islamist faction and seek temporary refuge on the “Catholic” Christian island of Malta? Oh the irony of it all!

    Mahdi al Harati his brother in law Hussam al Najjar and others including the Irish media and “journalists” like Mary Fitzgerald have much to answer for.

    Yours sincerely
    Alan Lonergan

    2) node/5395
    3) node/22161
    (7) Note this link to the images is defunct onTwitter but here is the original ulr

    Harry Ormond

    July 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

  6. Thank you, Al, for taking the time to write such a comprehensive response to “Bedfelloes” comment. Something tells me that we won’t be hearing from him again.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    July 2, 2015 at 9:27 pm

  7. […] a piece I published yesterday entitled “The Tunisia Massacre and the Irish-ISIS Connection”, I […]

    An Open Letter to Mary Fitzgerald | The Passionate Attachment

    July 3, 2015 at 12:26 am

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