Pakistan/Saudi Arabia/Algeria: The activities of the Saudi Red Crescent Society and a Saudi charitable organization called "al-Mouafak" (phonetic) in Islamabad (Punjab) and Peshawar (North West Front Province, NWFP); their relationships to and activities involving "Hamza School" and "Muwafaq University College" in Peshawar and "International Islamic University" in Islamabad; and how the Pakistani and Algerian governments viewed Algerian students/teachers connected with these organizations and/or institutions (since January 1996)
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 March 1999|
|Citation / Document Symbol||ZZZ31146.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Pakistan/Saudi Arabia/Algeria: The activities of the Saudi Red Crescent Society and a Saudi charitable organization called "al-Mouafak" (phonetic) in Islamabad (Punjab) and Peshawar (North West Front Province, NWFP); their relationships to and activities involving "Hamza School" and "Muwafaq University College" in Peshawar and "International Islamic University" in Islamabad; and how the Pakistani and Algerian governments viewed Algerian students/teachers connected with these organizations and/or institutions (since January 1996), 1 March 1999, ZZZ31146.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aaed97.html [accessed 20 June 2013]|
The Communist Revolution of 1978 in, and the December 1979 Soviet invasion of, Afghanistan brought about an Islamic resistance there, with Muslim mujahideen coming from all over the Muslim world to fight a jihad against the Soviets (Mideast Mirror 2 July 1996; The Economist 25 Nov. 1995; AI Nov. 1995,1, 12; Europa 1998 1998, 317). Most of the Afghan groups and their Arab supporters were based in Peshawar, North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistan, where they trained to fight the Soviets (ibid. 318; The Economist 25 Nov. 1995; Mideast Mirror 2 July 1996). According to Jane's Intelligence Review, all the foreign mujahideen required was a Pakistani visa and an air ticket to Peshawar, and from there, with the right connections, the jihad was a few hours away (1 July 1993). By 1987 the Afghan/Soviet war had attracted significant numbers of students and activists from Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to Afghanistan to fight (ibid.; Mideast Mirror 2 July 1996). "Conservative estimates" reported in Jane's, for the period between 1989 and 1991 (the peak years of foreign participation in the war), were approximately 3,000-4,000 foreigners training or fighting in Afghanistan or resting in Peshawar (1 July 1993). The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan was completed by February 1989 and in April 1992, the Communist regime of Najibullah fell (Europa 1998 1998, 318-19; AI Nov. 1995, 8, 13).
Saudi Red Crescent Society
Saudi involvement in Afghanistan began with the Afghan Islamic resistance to the 1978 Communist revolution (Mideast Mirror 2 July 1996). In the beginning Saudi Arabia sent official aid and humanitarian relief to Afghan refugees in northeast Pakistan through the Saudi Red Crescent Society and a fund-raising committee headed by Prince Salman bin Abdel-Aziz. Saudi Arabia soon established permanent offices for both aid organizations in Peshawar, located on the Afghan/Pakistan border (ibid.).
According to Jane's, by the mid-1980s Peshawar had become a "centre for scores" of European, Arab and American NGOs that provided medical, educational, social and spiritual services to the huge Afghan refugee community that had fled the fighting in Afghanistan (Jane's Intelligence Review 1 July 1993). Such Arab government-sponsored groups as the Saudi Red Crescent Society, the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society, the Islamic World League (al-Rabita al-Islamiyya al-Alamiyya) and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth "played an important role in providing foreign volunteers with contacts and accommodation and introduction to Afghan parties" (ibid.).
According to the Saudi Red Crescent Society annual report for 1994, which was briefly described in a 3 July 1995 Moneyclips article, the SRCS had 114 health centres in the NWFP, had extended medical treatment to approximately 437,000 people there, and had sent 1,750,818 kg of food supplies worth 1,750,000 rupees to refugees there. In Balouchistan province, the SRCS had 4 health centres that had served almost 70,000 people there and had sent almost 75,000 kg of food aid worth 938,000 rupees (ibid.). In mid-July 1995 Rustom Shah, the Commissioner for Afghan refugee affairs in northeastern Afghanistan, was reported to have praised the role of the SRCS in Pakistan and the services it had extended to Afghan refugees along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, describing SRCS as "one of the leading organizations extending humanitarian and medical services to Afghan refugees" (ibid.). According to NEXIS, Moneyclips is a daily update of selected articles from English-language newspapers that "offers a comprehensive look at major business, economic and political news from the Middle East."
In mid-1995 Ibrahim al-Babtein was the head of the SCRC in Pakistan (Moneyclips 3 July 1995).
The Research Directorate was able to find several references to an association and a foundation called al-Muwafaq:
According to Defense & Foreign Affairs' Strategic Policy, al-Muwafaq is a "key Sunni Islamist association... which concentrate[s] on proselytizing for Islam" but in reality is used to recruit and train mujahideen in Albania, using techniques perfected in Afghanistan and Albania (Apr. 1998). The Albanian Civil Society Foundation compiled a list of Albanian NGOs and other organizations and includes a Muvafaq (Muwafaq) Foundation (Fondacioni Muwafaq) as a foreign humanitarian aid and charity organization located in Tirana (May1996).
Two media sources report a "Muwafaq Foundation," which is an NGO based in either Jersey, UK (UPI 11 Apr. 1995) or London (The Christian Science Monitor 26 July 1995) with a branch office in Pakistan (UPI 11 Apr. 1995). Some of its aid workers have also done work in Bosnia (The Christian Science Monitor 26 July 1995).
UPI reported in 1995 that Muwafaq Foundation had allegedly donated two hostels to the International Islamic University in Islamabad (UPI 11 Apr. 1995). Furthermore, its Pakistan chief representative, Amir Mehdi, had been arrested by Pakistani police in April 1995 for his alleged links with Ramzi Ahmed Youssef, the main suspect in the New York World Trade Centre bombing (ibid.). Pakistani police were reportedly also tracing Youssef's links with Muwafaq Foundation, which had a working relationship with another welfare organization called Mercy International, headed by Zahid Shaikh, allegedly an uncle of Youssef (ibid.). In April 1995 UPI reported that Mercy International had offices in Islamabad and Peshawar but its headquarters were in Switzerland (ibid.).
The International Islamic University, Islamabad
In April 1995 UPI reported that Ramzi Ahmed Youssef, the main suspect in the New York World Trade Centre bombing, allegedly had close ties with students from the International Islamic University (UPI 11 Apr. 1995) and was said to have "visited the student halls" (The Times 27 Dec. 1995).
In late 1995 the then-Interior Minister of Pakistan, General Naseerullah Babar, reportedly accused the "prominent" International Islamic University of "propagating terrorism" (Pakistan Monthly Nov. 1995/CISNET Country Information Report No. 306/95), and of being "a haven for Islamic terrorists" (The Economist 25 Nov. 1995); he told Parliament it was a "hub of terrorist activity (The Times 27 Dec. 1995) and reportedly promised to "clean it up" (The Economist 25 Nov. 1995). At that time, The Economist stated that Babar might have had a difficult time fulfilling his promise as "the university, which has nearly 800 militant students, teachers and advisers from all over the Islamic world, has powerful support from Saudi Arabia and from factions within Egypt and Pakistan" (25 Nov. 1995).
In December 1995 The Times reported that unnamed intelligence agents had stated that the International Islamic University was a "state within a state, a 'direct security threat to the country'" (27 Dec. 1995). However, according to The Times, this university is "paradoxically the most peaceful higher learning institution in the country. It is alone among universities in boasting that it has never had a gun battle on campus" (ibid.).
The Times also reported in December 1995 that the university planned to increase the size of its student body from 1,955 to 30,000 (27 Dec. 1995). At that time, half the student population was Pakistani, with foreign students from 50 other countries making up the rest (ibid.). At that time Afghans made up the largest number of foreign students, followed by Chinese and Indonesians, and reportedly 9 Egyptians (ibid.). Published figures used by The Times indicated that almost half of the 198 faculty members were Pakistani, with the majority of the others being Egyptian (ibid.).
The Research Directorate was unable to find any information on this school within the time constraints of this Response.
Muwafaq University College
The Research Directorate was unable to find any information on this university college within the time constraints of this Response.
Official Pakistani and Algerian Views of Students/Teachers Affiliated with the Saudi Red Crescent, Al-Muwafaq organization, Hamza School, Muwafaq University College or the International Islamic University
No reports of how the Pakistani and Algerian authorities viewed and/or treated Algerian students/teachers affiliated with either the Saudi Red Crescent Society or Al-Muwafaq or the educational institutions, Hamza School, Muwafaq University College and the International Islamic University, beyond those cited in previous paragraphs, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Albanian Civil Society Foundation. 4 May 1996. "List of Albanian NGOs and Other Organisations in Albania." [Internet]
Amnesty International (AI). November 1995. Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster. London: AI.
The Christian Science Monitor [Boston]. 26 July 1995. David Rohde. "Islamic Money Helps Muslims in Bosnia, But Not Enough to Win." (NEXIS)
Defense & Foreign Affairs' Strategic Policy. April 1998. "Italy Becomes Iran's New Bases for Terrorist Operations." (NEXIS)
The Economist [London]. 25 November 1995. "Pakistan: As You Sow."
The Europa World Year Book 1998. 1998. Volume One. London: Europa Publishing LTD.
Jane's Intelligence Review [Surrey]. 1 July 1993. Vol. 5, No. 7. "The International Brigade." (NEXIS)
Mideast Mirror [London]. 2 July 1996. "'Saudi Afghans' Resumed Normal Lives, Not Interested in Toppling Regime." (NEXIS)
Moneyclips [London]. 3 July 1995. "Saudi Red Crescent Role in Helping Afghans Hailed." (NEXIS)
Pakistan Monthly. November 1995. (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Information Report No. 306/95, Document No. CX13470/CISNET)
The Times [London]. 27 December 1995. Christopher Thomas. "Pakistan: University Seen as School of Terror." (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Document No. CX13123/CISNET)
United Press International (UPI). 11 April 1995. BC Cycle. Anwar Iqbal. "Pakistan Unearthing Yousef's Roots." (NEXIS)
Additional Sources Contacted
The Research Directorate sent letters to the following organizations but received no replies:
- International Islamic University, Islamabad, Punjab, Pakistan.
- Ministry of Education, Islamabad.
- Ministry of Social Affairs, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
- Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Islamabad.
-Saudi Red Crescent Association, Riyadh.
Additional Sources Consulted
The Far East and Australasia 1998. 1997.
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Annual Report: Pakistan. Yearly. 30 May 1995, 31 May 1996, 1 June 1997, 1 June 1998.
_____. News Releases. January 1996-present. (WWW)
_____. Weekly News. January 1996-present. (WWW)
Helsinki Watch/Asia Watch. March 1988. By All Parties to the Conflict: Violations of the Laws of War in Afghanistan.
Laber, Jeri and Barnett R. Rubin. 1988. "A Nation is Dying."
The Middle East and North Africa 1998. 1997.
UNHCR, Geneva. June 1997. Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from Afghanistan.
The World of Learning 1998. 1997.
Yearbook of International Organizations 93/94. 1993.
Electronic sources: CISNET, Internet, NEXIS.