Amnesty International director alleged to have links to Muslim Brotherhood & radical Islamists

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood © Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A senior Amnesty International official has been found to have private links with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and revolutionary Islamists accused of plotting a coup in an Arab state.

Amnesty’s director of faith and human rights, Yasmin Hussein, stayed overnight at the residence of a Muslim Brotherhood advisor during an official visit to Egypt in direct contravention of Amnesty guidelines.

Her husband was also named as an alleged Islamist in documents relating to a 2013 sedition trial in the United Arab Emirates.

Hussein, who was until recently the charity’s director of international advocacy and among its leading voices at the UN, denies being an Islamist and has said she is “vehemently opposed” to raising money for “any organization that supports terrorism.

An investigation published by The Times claimed that Hussein, 51, held a private meeting with a Muslim Brotherhood government official during an Amnesty mission to Egypt in 2012.

After the private meeting with Adly al-Qazzaz, a ministerial education adviser, Hussein had dinner with his family and stayed overnight in their home.

Amnesty International was not informed of the visit, despite instructing its staff to declare any links that may generate a real or perceived conflict of interest with its independence and impartiality.

An Amnesty employee told The Times that the charity had strict rules on overseas trips, adding: “For an Amnesty delegate to accept an invitation to stay at the residence of a government official is a serious breach of protocol.”

The Muslim Brotherhood is considered a terrorist organization in Bahrain, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The transnational Sunni Islamist organization has been illegal in Egypt since 2013, when the Muslim Brotherhood was overthrown by the military in a coup d’état which has since led to a violent crackdown on the group.

According to The Times, Adly al-Qazzaz’s family was well connected within the party. His son, Khaled al-Qazzaz, was the Brotherhood’s presidential secretary for foreign affairs. His daughter was the official spokeswoman for the group in the UK.

Both Adly al-Qazzaz and his son were arrested and detained following the military coup in 2013, but the father has since been released.

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Hussein said she did not know about the Muslim Brotherhood positions held by members of the family and that she met with al-Qazzaz to speak about “the synergies between human rights and educational planning.”

Amnesty said that, with the exception of the overnight stay, it “found no evidence to suggest any inappropriate links between Ms Hussein and the al-Qazzaz family.

In a separate incident, Hussein’s husband was identified in documents released after a criminal trial of Islamists accused of plotting a coup in the United Arab Emirates.

Wael Musabbeh was one of several alleged British Islamists, none of whom were charged, named in documents relating to a 2013 trial that ended with the jailing of more than 60 Emirati citizens for conspiracy and sedition.

Amnesty, which challenged the fairness of the trial at the time, said it was unaware of the connection because it did not realize Musabbeh was Hussein’s husband.

Musabbeh is also a director and trustee of Human Relief Foundation, a global Islamic charity banned in Israel for its alleged connecting to groups which finance Hamas.

The charity said Hussein denied being a supporter of the Brotherhood and has told Amnesty “any connections are purely circumstantial.” It said it did not believe any of her alleged connections with Islamists represented a conflict of interest.

It added: “Amnesty International does, however, take very seriously any allegations that would call into question our impartiality and is therefore investigating the issues raised.

The charity has also come under fire for a separate incident in which an employee defended the organization’s links with CAGE, an advocacy group which campaigns for victims of the “war on terror,” but which has been accused of acting as apologists for jihadists.

The Amnesty employee voiced sympathy for those whose “only crime is to be soft on Islamic militants.”

CAGE was condemned by Prime Minister David Cameron in February for suggesting the UK-born Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) executioner “Jihadi John” was turned into a brutal killer after coming into contact with UK intelligence services.

An Amnesty spokeswoman said the charity “believes that staff should feel free to discuss and debate issues and other topics which impact the organization.

[Amnesty] campaigns and calls for states to respect, protect and fulfill their international human rights obligations, including freedom of expression, freedom of religion and women’s rights,” the spokeswoman added.