Home inSight Why the Tehran-linked Samidoun terrorist entity must be outlawed

Why the Tehran-linked Samidoun terrorist entity must be outlawed

Benjamin Weinthal

Editor's Note: Benjamin Weinthal is a writing fellow at Middle East Forum and a contributor to inFOCUS Quarterly

JERUSALEM—Nearly five years ago, the Israel-designated Palestinian terrorist organization Samidoun published a screed against this writer’s Jerusalem Post reporting about antisemitic anti-Israel activities in Germany.

On April, 8, Samidoun was catapulted into the news for organizing an anti-Israel rally in Berlin attended by a crowd of 500 mostly German Muslims, where “Death to the Jews” and “Death to Israel” were chanted.

Samidoun was founded in 2012 by operatives from the EU- and US-designated Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization. Samidoun says on its website that it is a “Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network” that functions as “an international network of organizers and activists working to build solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in their struggle for freedom.”

In short, Samidoun has developed a global network to stoke genocidal antisemitism and a terrorist ideology.

Its chapters span from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Islamic Republic of Iran to Germany, from Sweden to France to Spain and beyond.

In Ottawa, Samidoun mounted a conference on April 28-30 that, according to its online description, “is taking placed in so-called Canada, but it will focus on organizing throughout North America and throughout the Palestinian diaspora and inside Palestine.”

When I started to expose Samidoun’s activities in 2018, it was scarcely on the terrorist proscription radar screen.

The German Federal government permitted Khaled Barakat, a senior member of the US- and EU-designated terrorist entity the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, to enter Germany in 2018. However, the German authorities barred Barakat from speaking engagements in June 2018. In 2020, this writer exclusively reported that the government of the Berlin city-state imposed a four-year ban on Barakat, who the PFLP said was a “coordinator” for Samidoun.

There has been solid documentation and reporting over the years that Iran supports the PFLP. The role of the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism—the clerical regime in Tehran—in supporting the PFLP should raise alarm bells and lead to a swift ban of Samidoun.

Over the years, Samidoun’s malevolent antisemitic activities have spread in Germany, where authorities take a lax posture toward PFLP and Iranian regime activities.

In 2020, Israeli violinist Ana Agre launched a heroic one-woman counter-protest to a Samidoun demonstration in Frankfurt. The Frankfurt police ordered her to vacate the area because of her Israeli flag. The police issued also her a notice to appear for an interrogation for her pro-Israel activity.

When she asked the police official in Frankfurt why she was not permitted to display an Israeli flag, he responded: “Because I don’t like it.”

The pro-Samidoun activists confronted Agre chanting slogans including “Nazis out.”

Agre wrote this reporter by email at the time: “I was very upset and confused because I had never dealt with the police and could not understand what I was accused of.” She continued, “There were no details or explanations in the letter from the police, only the accusation of insult. I thought that Sasha Stawsky [sic] would be able to help me somehow, but I could not imagine that he could take the side of the police and start writing articles in which there are many lies.”

The prominent Israeli writer Chaim Noll rebuked Sacha Stawski, who runs an allegedly pro-Israel NGO, on the popular pro-US and pro-Israel German website The Axis of Good. Stawski rejected the allegation that he failed to help Agre but provided no evidence.

All of this helps to illustrate that civil society and German government policies toward Samidoun and the terrorist prisoners it supports remain largely deferential.

While the US and the EU, including Germany, have yet to impose a terrorist designation on Samidoun, Israel has taken the lead.

In February 2021, the Israeli Defense Ministry’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) announced: “The Samidoun organization was designated as a terrorist organization as it is part of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and was founded by members of the PFLP in 2012.”

When I asked the German Interior Ministry whether it plans to outlaw Samidoun, a spokesman told me that the “Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community generally does not comment on deliberations regarding a possible ban, regardless of whether there is reason for such deliberations in individual cases.”

It should be noted that the German city of Stuttgart and its Mayor Frank Nopper permit the antisemitic pro-BDS entity, the Palestine Committee Stuttgart, to promote itself on the municipal website. Palestine Committee Stuttgart zealously supports Samidoun on its website.

The allegedly antisemitic German bureaucrat Michael Blume, who is tasked with fighting antisemitism in the state of Baden-Württemberg, where Stuttgart is located, enables the BDS group’s posting on the website of the city.

Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Jewish life in Germany and the fight against antisemitism, Felix Klein, and his European counterpart, Katharina von Schnurbein, remain silent regarding a possible ban of Samidoun.

For the Germans who scream “Never Again” about the Shoah and “Nip it in the bud” when lethal antisemitism surfaces, the conduct of German politicians and bureaucrats who enable (or remain indifferent to) Samidoun’s activities should be unsettling.

To give additional examples of how Klein and Schnurbein’s docility in the face of lethal antisemitism, Klein refuses to follow the US State Department lead voiced by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and term Iran’s regime the world’s worst state-sponsor of antisemitism. Schnurbein can’t bring herself to urge the EU member states to outlaw all of Hezbollah’s terrorist movement within the union.

A US and EU ban of Samidoun would send a one-two punch to the Palestinian and Iranian regime terrorists, signifying that their lethal antisemitism will not be tolerated on the soil of Western democracies.

Benjamin Weinthal is a Writing Fellow for the Middle East Forum.