Bahrain MPs deny Syria rebels’ link
Manama, August 15, 2012
Accusations that Bahraini Islamist MPs have funded Syria with millions of dollars to buy weapons in support of rebel attempts to overthrow President Bashar al Assad have been denied.
Parliament second vice-chairman Shaikh Adel Al Ma'awada and Al Asala Islamic Society bloc president MP Abdulhaleem Murad appeared in a video with armed Syrian rebels last week, where they were seen alongside five men holding AK-47s and a rocket launcher.
Society member Dr Faisal Al Gorair and former MP Hamad Al Mohannadi also appeared in the video, which caused a stir on social media websites.
Reports circulating online alleged the group made the trip to northern Syria to hand over funds collected in Bahrain.
However, Al Ma'awada told our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News, that they presented around BD150,000 ($398,935.8) to needy Syrians in hospitals and shelters.
The money would also go towards rebuilding vital facilities damaged by the Syrian regime, he added.
"We didn't go to Syria to take cash to rebels and our meeting with them was not scheduled and was just one of those things that happened while we were there," he stressed.
"Our mission was humanitarian and we travelled to Syria as individuals and not representatives of the Parliament, any political or charitable society or parliamentary bloc, and had no intention of making donations towards arms.”
"We went to present collected cash of around BD150,000 to the needy in hospitals and shelters and for the rebuilding of vital facilities that have been completely or partially damaged by the regime.”
"Rumours that we had millions of dollars are baseless because if we did, then the Syrians would call us to run the government rather than the tyrant they have now because we would have done them a huge favour."
However, Al Ma'awada refused to reveal how the group managed to move the funds without facing problems at customs or border control between here and Syria.
He also slammed accusations the group had links to terror cells, saying they had nothing to hide. "We are not regular individuals and people tend to be interested to meet us and we can't tell anyone 'no' we are not interested to speak with you because that's an insult and doesn't represent the true Bahraini upbringing.”
"Speaking with gunmen is different from being one of them and I can assure everyone that no money has been given towards arming the rebels."
He said the group would continue its humanitarian mission in Syria as more funds are collected here and distributed to the needy.
"We will not stop offering help to those in need and it is a humanitarian duty we believe in and will continue doing so."
Foreign Ministry officials last week hit out at the two MPs, who they said entered Syria without the knowledge or permission of the Ministry. Parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani also declined to comment, but said none of the MPs had notified Parliament or him personally about the visit. – TradeArabia News Service