Bahrain-based Saudi-financed "Islamic" bank Arcapita doing rich business with Israel military

This blog reported on 9 October that American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) Board Member Marwan M. Atalla and his investment firm NEST U.S.A. Inc. are shareholders in Cirrus Design Corporation, an aircraft manufacturing firm which does millions in business with Israeli military contractors closely tied to the Israeli military establishment. (See "Board member of Ziad Asali's ATFP does millions in business with Israeli military firm" )

As the earlier post explains, Cirrus has a long history of working with Israeli companies and recently chose an Israeli military contractor called TAT Technologies to supply $10 million worth of aircraft parts. TAT Technologies is run by Israeli military officers, including a former commander of Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon, and its factory is built on the land of the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Yasur.

Since publishing that post, I have received new information from a former employee who is also a current minority shareholder at Cirrus. According to this individual Atalla was an active board member of Cirrus until 2001, but was forced to resign along with other independent board members when another investor, the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain took a majority stake in Cirrus. Atalla and his firm NEST U.S.A. Inc. remain shareholders of Cirrus as of this time, according to NEST's own website.

In 2005, the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain changed its name to Arcapita. Arcapita is financed by investors in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and is well-connected to those countries' ruling families.

The Arcapita website states on its current corporate investments page that it acquired a stake in "Cirrus Design Corporation" in 2001, but does not say how big the stake is. A 2007 report on aviation industry website AVweb, put Arcapita's stake at a controlling 58 percent.

While the AVweb report mentions that Arcapita was seeking to divest from Cirrus, in fact it has become more deeply involved. An April 2009 press release from Cirrus stated that Arcapita had pumped even more money into the company during the global financial crisis.

As an Islamic investment bank, all of Arcapita's investments are screened by its Shariah Supervisory Board which currently includes a religious scholar and former judge from the Supreme Court in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as well as religious scholars from Pakistan and Bahrain. Such advisory boards are supposed to screen investments to make sure they comply with Islamic banking standards -- typically avoiding interest, or investments in alcohol or pornography.

But for Arcapita, at least, there seems to be nothing un-Islamic about profiting from deals with the Israeli military establishment -- the same military that has slaughtered more than nine thousand Muslims, Christians and others and injured and permanently maimed tens of thousands more in Palestine and Lebanon in the past decade alone in what numerous international investigations have termed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Needless to say, Arcapita-controlled Cirrus' business with the Israeli military establishment is a gross violation of the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.

Board member of Ziad Asali's ATFP does millions in business with Israeli military firm

A board member of the Washington, DC-based American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) is a major investor in an aerospace company that does millions of dollars of business with an Israeli military defense contractor that has close ties to the Israel Defense Forces and whose headquarters occupy the land of a Palestinian village ethnically-cleansed in 1948.

The board member, Marwan M. Atalla, is described on ATFP's website as "President of NEST U.S.A., Inc. a privately held investment company with investments in real estate, aviation, technology and energy. NEST U.S.A., Inc. is part of the Near East Group, a multi-national investment group with offices in Amman, London and Houston."

On its website, NEST lists the eight firms in its investment portfolio, including "Cirrus Design – Manufacturer of 4-seat advanced technology aircraft." One of the aircraft the company manufactures is called the SF 50.

The link for Cirrus Design goes straight to the page for Cirrus Aircraft Inc. which appears to be exactly the same company.

On 24 May this year, an Israeli company called TAT Technologies Ltd. issued a press release announcing that Cirrus Aircraft Inc. had selected TAT as the preferred supplier for $10 million worth of heat exchangers for the SF 50.

TAT describes itself in the press release as "a leading provider of services and products to the commercial and military aerospace and ground defense industries."

This is not the first collaboration between Cirrus and Israeli companies. A Cirrus Aircraft Ltd. press release from August 2009 speaks of "a joint Cirrus/Israeli design team" dating back years.

The Chairman of the Board of TAT Technologies Ltd. is Israeli Brig. Gen. (ret) Giora Inbar, who commanded Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon before Israel's expulsion by the resistance in 2000. The President and CEO is Dr. Shmuel Fledel, who served 21 years in the Israel Air Force and was discharged as a colonel. The bios of the other key personnel of TAT indicate that the firm is closely tied to the Israeli military if not an outright subsidiary.

TAT also states in its press release that its "executive offices are located in the Re'em Industrial Park, Neta Boulevard, Bnei Ayish, Gedera 70750, Israel, and TAT's telephone number is 972-8-862-8500."

TAT's headquarters is in fact located on the lands of the Palestinian village of Yasur which was ethnically cleansed on 10-11 June 1948. According to Walid Khalidi's authoritative book All That Remains, "the village [Yasur] is a closed, fenced-in military zone. At the village entrance there is a sign: 'TAT Aircraft Parts Industrial Firm'" (p.139).

Prior to its ethnic cleansing by the Givati Brigade of the Zionist Haganah militia, Yasur had a population of more than 16,000 people, according to All That Remains.

The willingness of ATFP board member Atalla and his NEST investment firm to profit from relationships with the Israeli military and its suppliers shows a callous disregard and shocking contempt for the Palestinian people and their rights as well as constituting a gross violation of the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

This revelation comes on top of the fact, reported by the JTA, that ATFP -- which masquerades as a pro-Palestinian group -- has been working to facilitate meetings and relationships between the collaborationist Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad and virulent anti-Palestinian organizations including AIPAC and The Israel Project.

See follow up to this post: