Alistair Crooke

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Alistair Crooke
New America Foundation

Alistair Crooke is a former MI6 agent and the founder of Conflicts Forum.

Background

The Times reports Crooke's early years as follows:

Born in Ireland in 1949, Crooke was brought up in Africa, mainly on a farm near Harare in what was then Rhodesia, where his father farmed tobacco. He was educated in Switzerland and at St Andrews University. [1]

MI6 career

Crooke has been described as an 'expert in "parallel diplomacy", the use of covert talks when normal channels have broken down', a field which is something of an MI6 specialty. [2] His Conflicts Forum biography states that he has 'direct experience of conflict over a period of 30 years in Ireland, South Africa, Namibia, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Colombia.' [3]

His posting to Ireland in 1975 led to his first role as a British negotiator — with the IRA. Three years later he moved to South Africa where as “first secretary and press officer” he joined mediation with Swapo rebels in Namibia.
It was during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, when he was stationed for three years in neighbouring Pakistan, that Crooke first met militant Islamists. The mid-1980s were a wild time on the Afghan frontier, with American money and weapons pouring in to support those fighting the Soviet army. [4]

Palestine

From 1997 to 2003, Crooke was seconded to work for the European Union in Palestine.

He played a role in the negotiations to end the Siege of the Church of the Nativity in 2002 and helped facilitate the Palestinian cease-fires of 2002 and 2003. He also was a staff member of the Mitchell Committee that enquired into the causes of the Intifada. [5]

In 2002, Crooke put together a plan for a Hamas ceasefire which was wrecked by an Israeli airstrike that killed the organisation's military commander and 14 civilians. He was withdrawn from the region a year later.

The embassy acknowledged that Mr Crooke was leaving against his will but declined to discuss what his associates say were his growing differences with the Foreign Office over how best to bring an end to violence by Hamas and other militant groups.
Sources said that even after the latest suicide bombings and collapse of a seven-week ceasefire, amid what the Palestinians claim was deliberate Israeli provocation, Mr Crooke continued to argue that Hamas was ready to enter the political process and urged Israeli restraint. [6]

Conflicts Forum

In 2004, Crooke founded Conflicts Forum in order to conduct talks with Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jamiat-i-Islami.

It is backed by former government, military and intelligence officials in Europe and the United States who reject many of the methods of the “war on terror”.
It is funded from private donations but has the tacit support of some Arab governments.[7]

Yassin transcript

In November 2004, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at Israel's Center for Special Studies released an alleged transcript of a November 2002 series of meetings involving Crooke, one with members of Fatah Tanzim and the other with a Hamas delegation including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. [8]

Crooke has claimed that the transcript's account of his conversation with Yassin is inaccurate.

In an interview, he said he stressed to Yasin, "There were some actions that were unacceptable to anyone in Europe and America. Nobody believed that blowing up children eating pizzas, that these children were responsible for the plight of Palestinians." But he added that he drew a distinction between "terrorism" and "resistance," offering that his family had been involved in fighting the Nazi occupation in France in World War II. [9]

Neocon critics

Crooke's advocacy of dialogue with Islamists has been heavily criticised by neoconservatives.

An April 2005 article in FrontPage Magazine by P. David Hornik cited the Yassin transcript as being 'all too indicative of which side Europe is really on.'[10]

Melanie Phillips picked up the Horvik article a few days later in a blog post which asked 'who exactly is currently responsible for the potentially lethal activities of the ‘former’ British MI6 officer Alistair Crooke?' [11]

In an August 2005 blog post, Phillips accused Crooke of 'appeasement of genocidal terror.' [12]

In January 2006, the Yassin transcript was cited by the Transatlantic Institute of the American Jewish Committee in a critique of the European Union's contacts with Hamas. [13]

In the July 2006 issue of Prospect magazine, Dean Godson of Policy Exchange charged that 'Alastair Crooke's indulgence of Hamas is a product of late-imperial British defeatism.' [14]

In June 2007, Melanie Phillips accused the BBC's Newsnight and Radio 4 of relying on pro-Hamas interviewees, citing Crooke, Azzam Tamimi, William Sieghart of Forward Thinking and Professor Beverley Milton Edwards. [15]

In a November 2007 pamphlet, Misunderstanding Ulster, David Trimble accused a similar list of people of misinterpreting the significance of the Irish peace process for the Middle East. He cited Crooke and Sieghart, adding Gabrielle Rifkind of Oxford Research Group, Michael Ancram and Daniel Levy. Dean Godson is credited as the 'driving force' behind the pamphlet, written under the auspices of the Conservative Friends of Israel. [16]

Affiliations

Connections

Publications

Books

  • Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution, Pluto Press, 2009

Articles

External Resources

Notes

  1. Let’s talk: ex-MI6 man plans terror summit, by Stephen Grey, The Times,12 December 2004.
  2. Palestine peacemaker comes home, by Michael Smith, Telegraph, 25 September 2003.
  3. Conflicts Forum - Alistair Crooke, accessed 24 February 2008.
  4. Let’s talk: ex-MI6 man plans terror summit, by Stephen Grey, The Times,12 December 2004.
  5. Alistair Crooke biography, Counterpoint Online, accessed 24 February 2008.
  6. UK recalls MI6 link to Palestinian militants, by Chris McGreal, Guardian, 24 September 2003.
  7. Let’s talk: ex-MI6 man plans terror summit, by Stephen Grey, The Times,12 December 2004.
  8. Document seized (November 2002) in the Palestinian Authority Preventive Security compound in Gaza, Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 29 November 2004, accessed 25 February 2008.
  9. Hezbollah Signals It's Open to Talks With United States, by Eli Lake, New York Sun, 11 April 2005.
  10. Alistair Crooke's Meeting with Sheikh Yassin, by P. David Hornik, FrontPage Magazine, 15 April 2005.
  11. The crooked response to terror, by Melanie Phillips, April 19 2005.
  12. Flirting with mass murder, by Melanie Phillips, 1 August 2005.
  13. Transatlantic Backgrounder: The European Union's Contacts with Hamas, American Jewish Committee, 20 January 2006, accessed 24 January 2008.
  14. Gone Native, by Dean Godson, Prospect magazine, July 2006.
  15. The Hamas, MI6, BBC axis, by Melanie Phillips, 18 June 2007
  16. Misunderstanding Ulster, David Trimble, November 2007.