Youssef Nada

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Youssef Moustafa Nada (born 17 May 1931, in Egypt) is a noted businessman and Muslim Brotherhood financial strategist. Nada is most famous for raising successful European human rights legal cases to defend himself against accusations of terrorism by the United States. The U.S. accusations, made directly after the 9/11 attacks, resulted in his placement on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 terror blacklist.

In 2001, Nada, former chairman of al Taqwa Bank, was placed on the UN terror list by the US Treasury Department. Nada was alleged to have financed activities of al Qaeda, charges Nada vehemently denied.[1] The U.S. accusation was made applicable under the UN terror-listing program and affected his life in Switzerland, notably his assets, reputation, honor, and ability to move freely. In 2006, he sued the Swiss government for restitution of financial losses due to the Swiss investigation.[2]

By 2009, both the Swiss and Italian investigations of Nada were dropped as no evidence was found to support the U.S. accusations.[3] Both Switzerland and Italy petitioned the UN Terrorism Committee to remove Nada's name from the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 blacklist, at the objection of the United States. The U.S. finally acquiesced to his removal on 24 September 2009, but retained Nada on the domestic U.S. Treasury list under Executive Order 13224 until 25 February 2015 when it also removed his name from its own sanctions list.

While the United States refused to disclose evidence of Nada's guilt, claiming that the evidence was classified,[4] it removed his name from all its lists silently with little fanfare in 2015.

Between 2007–2009, Nada's ordeal was the focal point of a Council of Europe Parliamentary human rights investigation of the UN terror-blacklisting procedures, and the UN Terrorism Committee in general.[5]

In 2008, Nada raised a case against Switzerland at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

On 12 September 2012, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Nada,[4] citing that Nada's human rights had been violated,[6][7] in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights. In this ruling the government of Switzerland was ordered to pay Nada 30,000 Euros in damages, for their treatment of him as a person placed — with no evidence of guilt — on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 terror blacklist by the United States.[8]

Personal history[edit]

Youssef Nada was born on 17 May 1931 in Alexandria, Egypt.[9] [10] In his late teens, Nada became affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.[11]

Between 1952–54, Nada was imprisoned with 300,000 Members of the Muslim Brotherhood in a desert-based Egyptian military concentration camp. Many persons imprisoned in this camp were tortured as a result of Gamal Abdel-Nasser's famous campaign against the group. After release, Nada returned to University in Alexandria and began a business with a friend, producing milk.[12]

In the late 1950s, Nada moved to Europe, setting in Austria, and began working with a cheese factory in Graz. In 1961, a close friend of Nada's invited him to Libya where a construction boom was developing. Nada seized on the occasion and started to spend his time between Libya and Austria. In a matter of a few years he became the largest supplier of cement to the North African country. The activity led him to partner with Cementir, the Italian cement maker, to develop in 1965 the world's first floating cement silos, two barges named GI-1 and GD-2 able to store bulk cement and loaded with bagging facilities. Cement soon became his main business along with smaller operations in other commodities ranging from steel to agricultural materials. Nada had tremendous business success in his ventures with Saudi Arabia, Libya and eventually, the Nigerian government.[12][13]

During the 1960s, the Egyptian government fell back into conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood. Youssef Nada became one of the members wanted by the Egyptians. This led to Nada settling permanently in Europe.[12]

By 2001, the time of the accusations for which he became famous, Nada was a resident of Italy. He lived in Campione, a small Italian 'enclave' adjacent to the Swiss canton of Ticino.[12] The location of Campione made traversal of Swiss territory unavoidable. Enforcement of UN sanctions made legal entanglements with the Swiss government inevitable. [14]

Claims about Nada[edit]

Meeting in Algeria[edit]

A 1986 article in London-based Asharq Al-Awsat reported that Nada, along with Ahmed Ben Bella, a former president of Algeria, held a secret meeting at his Switzerland home attended by "major figures in some of the world’s most violent groups." Other attendees the meeting included the "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel-Rahman and Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, a leading Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim scholar.

In an interview on al-Jazeera,[15] Nada himself vehemently denied any such thing to have occurred [16] citing that well-known hatred between the individuals made such a meeting implausible. Nada claimed further that the London-based newspaper which made the allegations had links to Arab governments opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The Project"[edit]

In a November 2001 raid on offices and residences associated with Youssef Nada, an untitled document, written in Arabic and dated 1 December 1982, ostensibly outlining a plan to infiltrate and defeat Western countries was found.[17][18] Later referred to as "The Project" by Swiss-French journalist Sylvain Besson,[19] the content and provenance of the document would become the subject of conflicting media accounts in subsequent years. Though the document contains no mention of the Muslim Brotherhood in its original form,[20] it would be portrayed as a seminal Brotherhood text outlining their plan for Muslims to infiltrate and defeat Western countries.[17]

Nada's rebuttal[edit]

Nada claimed that the aforementioned stories were fabrications, made for political purposes. This is a claim at least partly supported by the findings of the Swiss and Italian investigations, which cited that the accusations against him appeared to have political roots.

Beyond this, Nada claims that during the post 2001 investigation period, that numerous western journalists appeared to be acting in the service of various foreign intelligence agencies, i.e., supporting what he felt were false claims against him.[12]

Terror investigations[edit]

Swiss and Italian investigation, 2001–2005[edit]

Although the charges against him were made by the United States, the nature of the UN terror sanctions program made Nada's treatment as a terror suspect international. Therefore, most of the actions taken in his direction were in the hands of Swiss and Italian authorities, due to his residential and business linkages to the two countries.

In November 2001, the Swiss government froze 24 bank accounts associated with Nada, and the Swiss federal prosecutor's office, led by Claude Nicati, began an aggressive inquiry into the activities of Nada and Taqwa co-director Ali Ghaleb Himmat. Both men repeatedly denied any connection with Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network.[21]

Ultimately the Federal Court in Bellinzona dropped the charges, for lack of evidence.[22]

Swiss and Italy drop investigation, ask UN to remove his terror-listing[edit]

On 1 June 2005, the Swiss case was dropped due to lack of evidence. The Prosecutor was admonished by the Court for opening a file on Nada without any specific reason.[23][24][25][26] The Italian case was closed in 2007, after a lengthy investigation whereby the Prosecutor stated that the grounds for opening the case appeared to be more political and agenda-driven rather than judicial or evidence based. Italian premier newspaper Corriere della Sera reported on this.[27]

Both the Swiss and Italian governments petitioned the Committee of the United Nations in-charge of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 terror blacklist.

In 2009, Nada was removed from the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 terror blacklist (UNSC 1267).[3][28]

Tried in absentia in Egyptian military trial[edit]

In January and February 2007, Egypt announced it had frozen the assets of dozens of top Muslim Brotherhood figures, warning that at least 40 persons were to stand trial in Egypt's military court. The Associated Press notes this court is "known for its swift trials and no right of appeal."[29]

In April 2008, an Egyptian military tribunal sentenced Nada in absentia to ten years' imprisonment for providing financial support to the Muslim Brotherhood.[30]

In his 2008 filings at the European Court of Human Rights,[4] Nada claims he had not been informed of the proceedings against him and that he had therefore never had the possibility of defending himself in person nor of sending a lawyer to represent him. Nada noted that the trial was held before a military tribunal even though he was a civilian, and therefore called the proceedings into question as being an unfair trial.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe defense[edit]

The case of Nada, which was presented to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) by Swiss Senator Dick Marty, was presented as being "like a page out of Kafka".[3] Investigations of the Nada case, and the injustices suffered by Nada, who has never been proven to have any links to Al Qaeda, nor the Taliban, were the focal point of a two-year PACE human rights investigation. During this investigation, the UN SC 1276, and other UN terror-blacklisting programs, came under harsh scrutiny and criticism.

"Even the members of the committee which decides on blacklisting are not given all the reasons for blacklisting particular persons or groups. Usually, those persons or groups are not told that blacklisting has been requested, given a hearing or even, in some cases, informed of the decision — until they try to cross a frontier or use a bank account. There is no provision for independent review of these decisions".[5]

The PACE concluded that then (and still current) terror blacklisting procedures were unworthy of the UN and EU. Criticisms were levied stating that these kind of injustices did not help to fight terrorism, but to promote popular frustrations by persecuting persons without justice and transparency. A series of reports came-forth from the meeting.[31][32]

In 2010, the PACE wrote letter to the President of the Court of Human Rights, requesting that they be able to provide third-party submissions in support of Nada's case against Switzerland.[33]

European Court of Human Rights ruling[edit]

On 12 September 2012, the European Court of Human Rights decided that Switzerland had violated various Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, aka "The Convention". The court ruled that Switzerland violated Nada's human rights by restricting his cross-border movements after the United States put Nada on a blacklist on suspicions of financing terrorism.

The United States had accused Nada of helping finance the 9/11 terrorist attacks, placing him on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 terror blacklist, a sanctions list for persons associated with Al Quaeda and the Taliban. The United States refused to provide evidence to support the accusation, claiming the information was classified. Still, the terror-blacklisting left Nada in a position of being treated as a criminal, without trial, nor with any means of appeal.[citation needed]

The Strasbourg court ruled that "Switzerland should have taken all possible measures, within the latitude available to it, to adapt the sanctions regime to the applicant's individual situation". Switzerland was ordered to pay Nada €30,000 to cover his costs and expenses.[34]

The decision was seminal, as it made clear that the Convention was required to be upheld, in relation to persons subject to UN terror-blacklisting, under UN SC 1267.

UN terror blacklistings have come under sharp criticism, notably by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.[5][35]


  1. ^ Komisar, Lucy (15 March 2002). "Shareholders in the Bank of Terror?". Salon. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Terror suspect sues Swiss government". swissinfo. 1 June 2006. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Motion Marty Dick. Die Uno untergräbt das Fundament unserer Rechtsordnung / Motion Marty Dick. Les fondements de notre ordre juridique court-circuités par l'ONU / Mozione Marty Dick. I fondamenti del nostro ordine giuridico scavalcati dall'ONU [The foundation of our legal system undermined by the UN] (Autumn Session 2009 — Second Session of the Ständerat)". Amtliches Bulletin - Die Wortprotokolle von Nationalrat und Ständerat [Official Bulletin - The debates of the National Council and Council of States] (in French and German). 8 September 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "CASE OF NADA v. SWITZERLAND (Application no. 10593/08)". European Court of Human Rights. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "PACE demands review of UN and EU blacklisting procedures for terrorist suspects, which 'violate human rights'" (Press Release - 045(2008)). Strasbourg: Council of Europe. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  6. ^ In Nada v. Switzerland, ECHR Finds Swiss Implementation of UN Counter-Terror Sanctions Violated Rights to Respect for Private and Family Life, Effective Remedy, International Justice Resource Center, 13 September 2012
  7. ^ Bern violated Youssef Nada's rights: Court, The Local (Switzerland's English-language paper), 12 September 2012]
  8. ^ Parliamentary Assembly - Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, UN Security Council black lists, Introductory memorandum, AS/Jur (2007) 14, 19 March 2007
  9. ^ Government of Canada: SOR/2001-491: Regulations Amending the United Nations Suppression of Terrorism Regulations, Canada Gazette, vol 135, no 5, 9 November 2001
  10. ^ Das Eidgenössische Volkswirtschaftsdepartement, gestützt auf Artikel 16 des Embargogesetzes vom 22. März 20021
  11. ^ U.N. Drops Muslim Brotherhood Figure From 'Terrorist Finance' List, Mark Hosenball, Newsweek (The Daily Beast), 17 March 2010
  12. ^ a b c d e Thompson, Douglas; Youssef Nada (2012). Inside the Muslim Brotherhood: The Truth about the World's Most Powerful Political Movement. London: John Blake Publishing. ISBN 1857826876.  (authorized biography of Nada)
  13. ^ Bern violated Youssef Nada's rights: Court, Associated France Press (AFP) reported in The Local (Swiss News in English), 12 September 2012
  14. ^ Youssef Nada gagne son procès contre la Suisse, Le Matin, 12 September 2012
  15. ^ Interview of Youssef Nada on Al Jazeera website
  16. ^ An instance of al-Jazeera's regular talk program, Century Witness, presented by Ahmed Mansour; several interviews from 4 August 2002 until 29 September 2002
  17. ^ a b Patrick Poole (May 11, 2006). "The Muslim Brotherhood "Project"". 
  18. ^ "FrontPage Magazine - The Muslim Brotherhood "Project" (Continued)". Retrieved 2018-06-11. 
  19. ^ Besson, Sylvain (2005). La conquête de l'Occident: Le projet secret des Islamistes (in French). Paris: Le Seuil. 
  20. ^ translation of "The Project" furnished by FrontPage magazine
  21. ^ Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte gibt Youssef Nada Recht (in German), Sudostschweiz, 12 September 2012
  22. ^ Nada gewinnt Rechtsstreit mit der Schweiz (in German), 12 September 2012, Tages Anzeiger
  23. ^ "Police detain Swiss-based financiers". 7 November 2001. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  24. ^ "Swiss firm shuts down after terrorism probe". 9 January 2002. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  25. ^ "Prosecutors face ultimatum over terror case". 1 June 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  26. ^ "Prosecutors drop terror investigation". 2 June 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  27. ^ "«Solo politica»: i pm bocciano le «black list» di Onu e Ue", Corriere della Sera, 24 July 2007
  28. ^ Security Council Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee Approves Deletion of One Entry from Consolidated List, UN CTC webpage (23 September 2009)
  29. ^ Agence France-Presse, 24 January 2007; Associated Press, 6 February 2007; Ikhwanweb, 8 February 2007
  30. ^ Corriere del Ticino (16 April 2008)
  31. ^ United Nations Security Council and European Union blacklists, Doc. 11454, 16 November 2007
  32. ^ United Nations Security Council and European Union blacklists (Addendum to the report) (16 November 2007)
  33. ^ Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights Information note: Compatibility of UN Security Council and EU [terrorist] Black Lists with European Convention on Human Rights requirements, AS/Jur/Inf (2010) 05, 7 December 2010
  34. ^ Egyptian businessman wins lawsuit against Switzerland, Swissinfo, Sept 12, 2012
  35. ^ United Nations Security Council and European Union blacklists (PACE, Council of Europe website)

External links[edit]

Articles in French[edit]