Lebanese flotilla organizers found to have Hezbollah ties
Though businessman, journalist deny terror group behind sail, both discovered to support Nasrallah
A Palestinian businessman who revealed himself recently as the organizer of another aid flotilla to Gaza has been found to have ties to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.
Yasser Kashlak, who is reportedly behind the flotilla set
to leave from Beirut in the coming days, has announced that he has "no ties with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran". But on August 14, 2009 he published a letter expressing support for Nasrallah.
"We and they know, sir, that you have vowed not to leave us alone and kept this promise. You dedicated your life, and still do, to the protection of our business which is also yours," Kashlak wrote in a letter to Nasrallah carried by the Lebanese Al-Akhbar.
"In the name of the Palestinian people… we stress that we are taking the path of resistance. Their campaigns will do no good, and history and geography will not lie. We ask Allah to extend your life and the lives of all who support Palestine and the noble resistance."
Kashlak, 39, heads the Palestinian Businessmen Association as well as the Lebanese institute of international research. He is also considered close to the Syrian government.
Kashlak also writes columns for a number of Lebanese papers and even publishes a little-known daily. In Lebanon, he is known as an up and coming leader of the Palestinian refugees, and has consistently opposed the peace process.
But Kashlak is not alone in organizing the Lebanese flotilla. Samar al-Hajj, a former Lebanese journalist, is in charge of the ship Miriam.
She is also the wife of a high-ranking officer in the Lebanese security forces who served a four-year prison term for his involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, and was released one year ago. Three weeks ago, in honor of the anniversary of his release, the couple met with Nasrallah and thanked him for supporting the officer.
In public, al-Hajj and Kashlak deny all connection with Hezbollah. Al-Hajj has recently told the Arab media in an interview that she belongs to a group of women of all ethnic backgrounds who had bound together due to their common hatred of Israel.
She also denied Hezbollah was behind the flotilla, but admitted that her motivation came from Nasrallah's speech calling
for more fleets to sail to Gaza.