Exiled Palestinian politician Dahlan ‘bought’ land in Serbia

Palestinian exile Mohammed Dahlan bought land along the Belgrade-Zagreb highway in 2006, documents show

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Land registry documents collected by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) in Serbian municipalities Pecinci and Zemun, which border the capital Belgrade, state that a Dubai-based company Al Fursan Group investment -owned by exiled Gazan strongman Mohammed Dahlan's brother and nephews- bought 50 hectares of agricultural land along the Belgrade to Zagreb highway in 2006.

According to official company records, Al Fursan holds 2 million euros of capital.

The news emerged as Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Serbia on Tuesday and Wednesday to open a new embassy and meet top officials, including Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic granted Mohammed Dahlan, a Palestinian investor, and his family Serbian citizenship last year, but rejects it was granted because of his investment projects.

UAE-based companies are investing in several areas of the Serbian economy. Their most visible investment is in the privatisation of Serbia's national airline.

Economy Minister Dusan Pavlovic said that relations in the period between September 2013 and January 2014 would be a secret. But it is known that an agreement worth up to $200 million was signed between the Serbian arms company Yugoimport SDPR and the UAE’s Emirates Advanced Research and Technology Holding (EARTH) at the International Defense Exhibition in Abu Dhabi in 2013.

Mohammed Dahlan - who has been living in exile in the UAE since 2011 is involved with his investments in Serbia.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s election campaign mentioned  a $4 billion investment from the UAE that he defined the slogan "the rebirth of Serbia."

Dahlan was born in 1961 to a refugee family from Hamama, Palestine. Early in his life, he began to be involved in politics before reaching the age of 20, when he became one of the founders of Fatah in Gaza. By the time he was 25 he had been arrested 11 times.

Dahlan is accused of embezzlement $17 million dollars of Palestine and using portion of the money for corruption.

He was sentenced to two years in jail for defamation and is currently on trial for corruption in Palestine.

Dahlan denies the allegations.

In end of April, a Palestinian court dismissed a high-profile corruption case against Mohammed Dahlan, in a move that could open the door for his return to the West Bank, and a bid for succession to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“It would be a mistake to write Dahlan off.  Among a handful of figures that are pushing themselves as presidents-in-waiting, Dahlan stands out for his charisma and political savvy,” says Ghassan Khatib, a former minister who now teaches politics at Birzeit University close to Ramallah.  “He has a cadre of loyalists in the Palestinian territories, many of them members of the security agency he once ran, numbering hundreds of thousands in the West Bank and Gaza” reported The Media Line.

He is also in charge of UAE-sponsored media efforts against the Muslim Brotherhood, and has often been seen traveling with the Crown Prince of UAE on his visits to Egypt and other countries.

Dahlan, is one of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s most trusted advisers.

He is also accused by the Palestinian Fatah Party of being involved in shipping Israeli-made arms to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

He has connections to Libya, as revealed by a WikiLeaks cable from 2010 that detailed a meeting he held in Spain with Gaddafi’s son Saif.

In August 2014, the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi gave a $1 billion loan to resolve the liquidity problems of Serbia. Cristina Maza from muftah.org argues that Dahlan was behind of this loan.

TRTWorld and agencies