What We Know About Alistair Crooke

The PA’s now investigating three people, Al-Jazeera reporter Clayton Swisher, an unnamed Frenchman, and former British intelligence official Alistair Crooke, for their connection to the PaliLeaks.

Crooke’s definitely a plausible player. He’s a big time advocate of engaging Hamas and Hezbollah, and he founded the Conflicts Forum towards that end. Patrick Seale once described the organization as “a club of disaffected diplomats and intelligence officers,” which, as Daniel Pipes put it “engages in a pleasant form of personal diplomacy that diminishes the horror of Islamist terrorism.” (Pipes quoted Seale here.)

Then there’s this impression Crooke left on David Samuels, who wrote in Mother Jones:

The weirdness of Crooke’s embrace of even the looniest doctrines of the Iranian ruling clique might indicate that Conflicts Forum is a front for Tehran.

Indeed, Conflicts Forum’s co-founder, Mark Perry quit the organization because Crooke’s sympathy for the Iranian regime after the 2009 election violence was too much. If Perry’s name rings a bell, it’s because he’s better known for twisting Gen. David Petraeus’s views on Israel, to the delight of Walt/Mearsheimer fans everywhere.

Just a few days before the Palestine Papers hit the press, Crooke argued Why the demise of the Middle East ‘peace process’ may be a good thing. His sneering view of the PA certainly fits in with what people like Robert Fisk, Saree Makdisi and George Galloway (among others) are only fashionably saying post-PaliLeaks:

Perhaps under this concept of statehood a new Palestinian elite could live more comfortably, albeit amid persistent general poverty. Perhaps the visible tools of occupation and control over Palestinian life would be better concealed from the naked eye, even operated remotely through new technology. Such “statehood” would still be an occupation nonetheless, with the Palestinian internal security conduct, borders, airspace, water, economy and even its “electro-magnetic” field under the unchallengeable security control of Israel. Jerusalem, the refugees, and even the status of the Jordan Valley would be left pending for the never-arriving longer term.

He went on to compare the Israel-PA relationship to South Africa’s efforts to retain military hegemony Namibia with a “Vichy government in Windhoek.”

Crooke’s time in the West Bank is most notable for the circumstances in which he left. Israeli journalist Sheila Raviv (via CiF Watch) explains:

Mr. Alistair Crooke was investigated and within a short time was on his way home. It was later revealed that he was a member of MI6 and had been training Hamas! A British diplomat was training Hamas terrorists, yet Israel did not turn it into a media frenzy. His expulsion was carried out quietly, out of respect to our British allies.

Crooke would’ve been motivated to embarrass the PA and damage Israel. But it isn’t clear to me how he came to have acces to the documents, if indeed he did. His connection to the affair remains for now an open question. Definitely an eyebrow-raising name to drop.

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