Imam conducts illegal gun-running from Sweden to SyriaNovember 4, 2013
Imam Haytham Rahmeh, a native of Homs, Syria, residing in Sweden, is trafficking weapons from Libya for end use in Syria, according to Sveriges Radio and a researcher at Cambridge University. Imam Rahmeh and has previously been described in a Carnegie Endowment article as an ex-Muslim Brotherhood member.
This activity is a probable violation of Swedish law, although it seems fairly similar to smuggling activities being carried out by Western governments and Gulf monarchies. Libya is often the point of origin of the weapons that are flooding Syria, and Turkey is often the point of entry for the for the smuggled arms. This story has the same fact pattern.
From The Local:
Swedish imam smuggles weapons to Syria: report
Published: 31 Oct 2013
A Swedish imam has smuggled large quantities of weapons to rebels in Syria, a crime punishable by up to four years in prison.
Sources told Sveriges Radio (SR) that the Syrian-born man was one of the rebels’ key weapons suppliers and that he had been bringing arms into the civil war-torn country for the last 18 months.
SR named the suspected arms dealer as Haytham Rahmeh and claimed he purchased weapons primarily in Libya, but also made purchases in Bosnia & Herzegovina. The arms have then been transported through Turkey and into the hands of rebels in Syria.
Raphaël Lefèvre, a researcher at Cambridge University who has interviewed Rahmeh, told SR that Rahmed has made frequent appearances among the Syrian opposition and has been open about sending weapons to the rebels via an organization known as the Commission for Civilian Protection.
“It’s no secret that this group sends weapons to Syria,” Lefèvre told SR.
For several years, Rahmeh was an imam at the Stockholm mosque located near Medborgarplatsen in the city centre. He also served as the chair of a European organization for imams before shifting his focus toward assisting Syrian rebels.
Thomas Tjäder, a security expert at the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (Inspektionen för strategiska produkter – ISP) explained that smuggling weapons into Syria was a breach of Swedish arms control laws punishable by up to four years in prison.
The law applies to all Swedish citizens and registered residents, regardless of whether the weapons pass through Sweden or not, Tjäder told SR. The EU export embargo to Syria entails policing at national level, he explained, meaning that it was Sweden’s job to probe potential breaches.
Nazir Hakim, head of the Commission for Civilian Protection, confirmed that Rahmeh has fundraised for the group and that some of the money collected went toward the purchase of weapons…
Rahmeh appears to be the latest in a series of imams (Muslim prayer leaders) who have used Western countries as a base to provide material support to militants, including Imam Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud (a San Diego imam who conspired with fellow Somali immigrants to fund al-Shabaab in East Africa), Hafiz Khan (a Florida imam who funded the Taliban), terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki, and Orlando imam Marcus Dwayne Robinson, a.k.a. Abu Taubah (who helped coordinate the movement of Al Qaeda fighters through Mauritania).