As dapper British Member of Parliament Gorgeous George Galloway continues to fight for his political life in the time he can spare from issuing writs for libel, he has new cause for concern. Inconvenient facts and unanswered questions about his alleged $500,000 a year kickbacks from Iraq, his involvement in the Palestinian cause, his "charity" the Mariam Appeal and how the money was spent, plus the exact nature of his involvement with Palestinian businessman Fawas Zureiket, have been part of the rich tapestry of his life since his Iraqi connections became public. Now the Director of Public Prosecutions is considering pursuing him for comments during the Iraq war when, during an interview on Abu Dhabi TV, he called on British troops not to fight. Lawyers for service personnel claim his call for soldiers to disobey what he called 'illegal orders' amount to a breach of the Incitement to Disaffection Act 1934. The maximum term, if found guilty, is two years, which doesn’t sound so onerous until one remembers that no ex-convict can sit in the Houses of Parliament. And his position as a Member of Parliament is what George Galloway’s career is based on.
Galloway dismisses the suit with typical insouciance, saying, "I hope to have chiselled on my gravestone: ‘He incited them to disaffect’"
Harder to put aside with an airy wave are the accusations that he used the proceeds from his Miriam Appeal – which he started ostensibly to bring an Iraqi child sick with leukemia to Britain for treatment, for personal purposes. It did not cost the hundreds of thousands of pounds that were donated to the fund by members of the British public, and also Middle Eastern governments, to cure Miriam. Long after Miriam was declared leukemia-free, the charity rocked along, mutating as it went into an appeasenik organisation protesting the war in Iraq. Because it is not a registered charity, it has never had to open its books to the public. The fact that it is not a registered, tax-deductible charity might lead one to believe that charity was never its purpose.
It has now come out that Galloway’s Jordanian wife, Dr Amineh Abu-Zayyad, believed to be a niece of Yasser Arafat, was paid £18,000 ($27,000) out of it for "taking care of Miriam, which she is very qualified to do," Galloway assured skeptics. How being a microbiologist qualifies the degree holder for a nursing job for a leukemia patient is unclear. And Galloway didn’t mention whether his wife had a leave of absence from her important position as a microbiologist at Glasgow University while she was "taking care of Miriam." It also paid for a flight for her to her native Jordan and for some Arabic computers. More importantly, it paid for travel by Galloway himself to such interesting destinations as Jordan, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and the U.S. And it allegedly provided cover for many a trip to Baghdad. It has now been revealed, at the insistence of the Charities Commission, that the Mariam Appeal received about £800,000 ($1.2m) over a four year period, with more than £500,000 ($750,000) provided by the United Arab Emirates and about £100,000 ($150,000) by Saudi Arabia. The bulk of the remainder was provided by the Jordanian businessman, Fawaz Zureikat, a long-time opponent of sanctions against Iraq and the campaign's chairman. No wonder they never bothered to register it! Why were the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE so generous? What did they expect of this British Member of Parliament in return?
Galloway’s ex-chauffeur was often bemused by his attitude to money. His own salary came partly from Galloway’s legitimate expenses as a Member of Parliament, but also from other sources. Said the ex-chauffeur, "As time went by, [the money] would come from the strangest places. Usually, his wife would pay me with checks from a company called Finjan Ltd - a company of which Mr. George and his wife are the only directors." Earlier, he was paid with a check from the Emergency Committee on Iraq and Palestine [a campaign chaired by Galloway, that raised funds among anti-war protesters to campaign against the U.S. and Israel]. The check was signed by Stuart Halford [who was the secretary of the Mariam campaign].
The chauffeur claimed that after the events of September 11, Galloway remarked, "The United States has killed much higher numbers in Iraq with the sanctions." A somewhat touching concern for the ordinary Iraqi in the street, given that the money trail leads to payments from the Saddam regime directly to the oil-for-food-and medicines UN administered program. Some of the oil revenues meant to provide the means for the purchase of food and medicine for the Iraqi people were being diverted into the silk lined pockets of Armani suits worn by one Rt Hon. George Galloway, MP.
For a man born in an attic in a slum in the industrial city of Glasgow, Gorgeous George developed some expensive tastes round about the time he became committed to the Palestinian cause and forged a relationships with an old friend of his wife’s from university in Jordan. Fawas Zureikat claimed that catch-all Middle Eastern term, "a businessman." He had also at one time been involved as an oil trader. He was also the Chairman of the Miriam Appeal.
But funds from the Miriam Appeal pale beside funds from Saddam Hussein who allegedly authorized payments to Galloway of approximately $550,000 per year, filtered out of the oil-for-food program, over a period of 10 years.
According to a document uncovered by Daily Telegraph reporter David Blair in the remains of the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, Iraqis decided Galloway needed more cash: "His projects and future plans for the benefit of [Iraq] need financial support to become a motive for him to do more work. And because of the sensitivity of getting money directly from Iraq, it is necessary to grant him oil contracts and special and necessary commercial opportunities to provide him with a financial income under commercial cover without being connected to him directly." The document went on to describe a meeting between Galloway and an Iraqi intelligence officer and states that Galloway sought to "ensure confidentiality in his financial and commercial relations with the country and reassure his personal security." Galloway, the letter went on, "needs continuous financial support from Iraq.". It also describes a meeting between Galloway and an Iraqi intelligence officer and states that Galloway sought to "ensure confidentiality in his financial and commercial relations with the country and reassure his personal security."
The document found by the Telegraph reporter and translated from the Arabic has now been authenticated by a ranking former official in the Iraqi Foreign Office who recognized the signature of the high level individual who signed the memorandum.
Two or three days later, the Christian Science Monitor, working from a different document, reported that Galloway received $3 million a year from April 4, 2000, to January 14, 2003.
A letter accompanying that final payment authorizes the "Manager of the security department, in the name of President Saddam Hussein, to order a gratuity to be issued to Mr. George Galloway of British nationality in the amount of three million dollars …." It praises Galloway for "his courageous and daring stands against the enemies of Iraq, like Blair, the British Prime Minister, and for his opposition in the House of Commons and Lords against all outrageous lies against our patient people."
At one time, Galloway apparently tried to up the ante, but Saddam, having fed so many feet first into the shredder, was a man who knew when to put his foot down and told him, through an emissary, that Iraq couldn’t afford to give him any more.
In response to the above accusations Galloway has said, "I have never asked Iraq for money to help our campaign. Our campaign was funded throughout by private donations and by governmental donations friendly to Britain and the United States." When questioned, he insisted that he did not think the campaign had received money, even indirectly, from the Iraqi regime or from oil trading. He says he has not solicited money from the Iraqi regime, either directly or indirectly, for any other purpose.
Galloway also seems to have been involved in the murky world of overseas dissidents, apparently acting as a liaison between the House of Saud and Islamic dissidents in London. He had a secret meeting in Morocco in 1996 to discuss the political situation in Saudi Arabia with Crown Prince Mohammed (now King) and a senior Moroccan intelligence official. We do not know the extent of his involvement, nor why his presence was considered necessary. But it seems strange that a sitting member of the British Parliament should be involved in such a web of Middle Eastern entanglements when his constituents back home in his needy area of Glasgow could do with an advocate.