Story By: Georgina Jadikovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
A radical Islamist association based in neutral Switzerland and led by a man convicted of terrorism which has completely slipped under the radar of Swiss authorities has celebrated the Taliban swift takeover of Afghanistan with a tweet.
Following the withdrawal of US-led NATO forces, the “Association of Arab Maghreb Scholars” tweeted on 15th August: “Allah gave our Afghan brothers a definitive victory after there had been no such blessed victories by Muslims over their enemies for some time.”
Blick reported that the association whose most board members come from Tunisia and their goal is to “spread the ethical and moral values of Islam” was founded in the city of Istanbul in Turkey in 2013, and was registered one year later in the Swiss city of Geneva.
Their registration form was signed by an Albanian man from the city of Tirana, a Tunisian man living in Switzerland who was listed as secretary and the cashier who is also Tunisian.
Despite being headquartered in Switzerland, the organisation is not well known to the public even though its president Hassan Kettani is a Muslim preacher and former political prisoner from Morocco who has previously been arrested on terrorism charges related to 2003 Casablanca bombings.
Kettani was arrested in Morocco and sentenced to 20 years in prison for terrorism in 2003, but he was controversially pardoned nine years later by the king following the Arab spring in 2012.
Kacem El-Ghazzali, who has worked as a representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union at the United Nations Human Rights Council, said: “The tweet is Salafist and uses militant terms.”
He added: “For example, ‘al-fateh’ is a jihadist term that is often used in times of war against the infidels or the great Islamic expansions of the seventh century.”
Head of Communications at the Geneva Security Department Laurent Paoliello according to whom it is unclear whether the organisation poses any threat, reported that it is currently too early to comment on the situation.
The Federal Intelligence Service refused to provide any details about the association.
El-Ghazzali says the group did not choose Switzerland as its headquarters by chance claiming that these sorts of organisations need to jump through a lot of hoops to register in most countries but not in Geneva.
He added: “One must not suspect all registered Muslim organizations in Switzerland.”
But he also believes that: “Organisations like this that pretend to be moderate but in reality are clearly fundamentalist pose a clear challenge to authorities.”
He said that there needs to be some sort of mechanism to evaluate the goals and activities of such organizations after they have been set up in order to assess whether they pose a threat.
The association has not made any other comments since the tweet.