Following is information from the Arab media about some of the flotilla participants. It should be noted that
many of these were from the Muslim Brotherhood across the Muslim world.
(For more on this subject, see also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2986, "MEMRI TV Clips on the Gaza Flotilla:
Activists On Board Chant Songs of Martyrdom at Departure," http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4249.htm .)
In Friday sermons, Muslim
Brotherhood General Guide Muhammad Badi' ex
pressed support for Hamas, frequently reiterating harsh statements in favor of jihad and of the
armed struggle in
Palestine, Iraq, and (see http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4254.htm). Afghanistan
The Egyptian flotilla delegation included two members of the Muslim Brotherhood bloc in the Egyptian
parliament: Muhammad Al-Baltaji and Hazem Farouq.
Al-Baltaji, who is
deputy secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc in
dignity and with eternal paradise." He also said that his movement "will never recognize
will never abandon the resistance," and that "resistance is the only road map that
can save Jerusalem, restore the Arab honor, and prevent Palestine
from becoming a second
Muslim Brotherhood logo
The Lebanese flotilla delegation, with six members, was headed by attorney Dr. Hani Suleiman, who also participated in a February 2009
flotilla. He was pro-bono attorney to Japanese terrorist Kozo Okamoto. In 2006, he signed a Gaza communiqué supporting armed resistance in Palestine, Lebanon, and . Iraq
Three other members of the Lebanese delegation are Al-Jazeera TV correspondents. One, 'Abbas Nasser, worked for Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV from 1997 through 2003; he has said that he enjoyed working there be
cause he felt like part of a family, and be cause the channel "embraced his religious and politi cal orientation." In 2003, he also worked for 's Al-'Alam TV. Iran
Another delegation member, Hussein Shaker, is known as "Abu Al-Shuhada" ("Father of the Martyrs"). He has reportedly ex
pressed a desire to meet "his martyrs" (i.e. relatives killed during the 2006 war), and has Lebanon called his participation in the flotilla revenge for their deaths.
The Jordanian flotilla delegation included Muslim Brotherhood in
Jordan activists such as delegation head Wael Al-Saka, a veteran Muslim Brotherhood member, and Salam Al-Falahat, who was general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in from 2006 to 2008. In an interview last year, Al-Falahat said: "We in the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan Jordan see as part of the Islamic and Arab land that must not be relinquished – on the contrary, defending it is a national and jurisprudential obligation... We see Hamas movement in Palestine as standing at the head of the project of the Arab and Islamic liberation for which the Muslim Brotherhood Palestine calls... The Muslim Brotherhood supports Hamas and every Arab resistance movement in the region that works for liberation."
Also in the delegation was Jordanian
publicist and journalist Muhammad Abu Ghanima, a former head of the Muslim Brotherhood in 's information bureau and a member of the movement's politi Jordan cal bureau. Abu Ghanima writes frequent articles praising Hamas and condemning the Palestinian Authority. In one, he vehemently attacked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, calling on the Muslim Brotherhood in to topple his regime even at the cost of thousands of martyrs. Egypt
Journalist Saud Salam Abu Mahfouz, member of the Muslim Brotherhood in
's politi Jordan cal party, the Islamic Action Front, is also director-general of the Jordanian Al-Sabil newspaper, which is identified with the Muslim Brotherhood. His son, Jordanian correspondent for Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV, was arrested in in 2008. Egypt
One of the four Syrian citizen among the flotilla's 700 participants was Shadha Barakat. She was sent as a representative of the Civil Association for Resisting Zionism and Aid for
Palestine, which supports armed resistance in Palestine and in . Her husband Ayman said that she had written a play on assassinated Hamas founder and leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, and had told him that when she reaches Iraq she "plans to visit [Yassin's] home and inhale the scent of the place where he lived." Gaza
Prominent activists in the Yemeni flotilla delegation were three MPs from the Al-Islah party, an Islamist party that is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. One, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hazmi, was photographed on the deck of the Mavi Marmara brandishing his large curved dagger.
Another Yemeni MP in the flotilla, Hazza' Al-Maswari, also from the Al-Islah party, previously ex
pressed vehement anti-Ameri can sentiment. In 2004, he objected to a Yemeni program for dialogue with prisoners from Al-Qaeda aimed at tempering their views, declaring recently at Friday prayers: "We cannot tell militants 'don't terrorize Ameri cans' or 'don't attack their interests.' Those who plant hatred will harvest hatred."
Depiction of flotilla on Yemeni website
Among the prominent flotilla activists from
Kuwait were Salafist MP Walid Al-Tabtabai, who is known to support armed resistance in Palestine and in . He said: "We think that the armed resistance in Iraq is legitimate resistance. Every resistance directed against anyone who occupies it is legitimate..." Al-Tabtabai also ex Iraq pressed explicit support for Hamas and objected to the regime of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas.
Another prominent Kuwaiti activist in the flotilla was Dr. Osama Al-Kandari, a Hadith lecturer at the
. In February 2009, he signed a College of Basic Edu cation communiqué ex pressing support for Hamas and for jihad in against the "Jewish enemies." Palestine
Sheikh Jalal Al-Sharqi, head of the Association of Islamic Scholars in the GCC Countries, was also on board. Previously, Al-Sharqi signed a clerics' petition
calling to acknowledge Hamas's legitimacy, as recognized by shari'a, and not to prevent it from obtaining weapons. The petition justified the stance of the "fighters in " who cling to jihad "against the Jews" and to martyrdom. Gaza
The Monitoring Committee of the Israeli Arabs sent four of its members to the flotilla, including Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in
. He made statements in support of Hamas and against the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority. Previously, Salah said at the Conference of the Palestinians in Europe: "We are very joyful over the Freedom Flotilla... that in another few days will break the siege on free Israel Gaza, noble Gaza, heroic . At the same time, we emphasize to all the world that the Freedom Flotilla heralds another flotilla to come – do you know what that is? It is the flotilla returning the Palestinian refugees to our country, to our plains, to our sea and our land, to our fields and our groves." Gaza
Bishop Hilarion Capucci
Another passenger on the Mavi Marmara was Bishop Hilarion Capucci, who in the 1970s was convicted and imprisoned in
Israel for smuggling weapons from Lebanon to the PLO, but afterwards was freed at the request of the . According to Algerian flotilla participants, Hilarion said that he was "waiting for the day when he could return to Vati can Palestine and hear the church bells and the muezzins' calls of 'Allah Akbar,' under the skies of a free ." Palestine
Anticipating Conflict, Willing to Die
In their statements, flotilla participants raised the possibility that
Israel would use force to prevent the ship from reaching the coast, and declared that this would not stop them. Many noted that they would break the siege even if it cost them their lives. Gaza
Muhammad Al-Baltaji, of the Muslim Brotherhood faction in the Egyptian parliament, said: "The flotilla participants have two aims: to reach
Gaza and break the siege, and to denounce Israel if it prevents the flotilla from entering , even at the cost of martyrdom or imprisonment." Gaza
Algerian delegation head Dr. Abd Al Razzaq Maqri, who is the
deputy head of the Algerian group Movement of Society for Peace, Algeria's major Islamist party, said, "The Algerians on board will hear only the orders of their leaders, who seek to break the siege. [The options are] martyrdom, imprisonment, or breaking [the siege]."
The website of the group titled its collection of photos from the flotilla "Photos of Algerian Mujahideen."
Algerian delegation coordinator Ahmad Brahimi said about his delegation: "
has been known for its support of the Palestinian Algeria cause since the days of Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyubi. Our fathers gave their blood and lives to defend ... and we are the sons of those fathers." He added that the delegation's only purpose was to reach Palestine Gaza, and that could not prevent it from doing so. Israel
Another participant, Attorney Fathi Nassar of
Jordan, said: "The Freedom Flotilla members are filled with determination to reach or die." Gaza
Rami Abdou, representative of the European Campaign to End the Siege on
Gaza, said that most of the participants were willing to lay down their lives to reach . He stressed that they would not allow the occupation forces to tow the ship to Gaza . Ashdod
Shadha Barakat's husband Ayman said that his wife was likely to be harmed during the venture, adding that "she will make no truce with Zionism" and that "since she was a child, she has dreamed of attacking an Israeli."
Participants Write Their Wills
press conference in , the flotilla organizers asked all the participants to "write their wills." Following the Antalya, Turkey press conference, Kuwaiti Salafist MP Walid Al-Tabtabai reportedly "did not hesitate to write his will, in defiance of the Israeli threats."
The father of Kuwaiti activist Abd Al-Rahman Al-Filkawi told the Kuwaiti Al-Watan daily that his son had told him that the flotilla participants' morale was high, and that they "would sacrifice themselves for the sake of Allah. He added that his son had "told them before embarking that he would be a martyr for the sake of Allah." The next day, the father told a
press conference: "My son Abd Al-Rahman came to me and said: 'Reckon my sacrifice [of my life] in anticipation of the reward of Allah' and I did so. Then he went to his mother and she reckoned his sacrifice in anticipation of the reward of Allah. If he dies there [with the flotilla], he dies as a martyr [with the predetermined aim of becoming one]."
Similarly, the son of Kuwaiti activist and attorney Mubarak Al-Mutawa said: "Since he was little, my father hoped to become a martyr for the sake of Allah." Al-Mutawa's wife related that on the day of his departure, her husband had gathered their children together to tell them about martyrdom and jihad, and that he bade them farewell by saying: "If I am martyred during my voyage, do not be sad. I will be in
Paradise, be cause I am going to wage jihad for the sake of Allah."
Also, on the various Internet forums, it was reported that the mother of one of the Turkish participants had said that her son had bade her farewell and told her that he was going to lay down his life.