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May 25, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KYIV1246 2007-05-25 06:26 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

DE RUEHKV #1246/01 1450626
P 250626Z MAY 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 001246 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/24/2016 
REF: 02 KIEV 4660 
Classified By: Political Counselor Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4 (b) and 
1. (C)  Summary:  Tensions are increasing within Ukraine's 
small Muslim population, with the head of the Spiritual 
Directorate of Muslims in Ukraine (SDMU) Sheikh Tamin 
accusing the Muslim Association of Civic Organizations - 
Arraid of promoting Islamic extremism.  Tamim, who is known 
for his moderate views and has spoken out publicly against 
extremism, criticized the GoU for not doing enough to support 
the SDMU and other moderate groups.  In his view, this has 
unintentionally weakened the standing of moderate groups in 
Ukraine's Muslim community and strengthened better-funded 
extremist groups like Arraid.  A recent visit to Arraid's 
center in Kyiv confirmed that the organization is well-funded 
and run by Muslims originally from the Middle East, and 
presents a carefully cultivated appearance of moderation. 
However, a local expert on Ukraine's Muslim community echoed 
Tamin's concerns about Arraid extremism, alleging that it is 
connected with the Muslim Brotherhood network and that it 
aspires to be Ukraine's leading Muslim organization.  He 
added that several Muslim organizations, including Arraid, 
are competing for influence in Ukraine's largest Muslim 
community, the Crimean Tatars, but that thus far, extremists 
are making little headway.  End Summary 
Ukraine's Muslim Communities 
2.  (SBU) Some Muslim leaders claim that there are two 
million Muslims in Ukraine, but the government and 
independent think tanks estimate their number to be about 
500,000.  The majority of Ukrainian Muslims live on the 
Crimean peninsula and an estimated 50,000 live in Kyiv, 
mostly foreign-born.  Ukraine's largest Muslim organization 
is the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Crimea (SDMC) with 
332 registered communities.  Its members are primarily 
Crimean Tatars, who were forcibly deported to Uzbekistan by 
Stalin in 1944 and were permitted to return to Ukraine in 
1989.  The SDMC's leader, Mufti Emirali Ablayev, is 
considered to hold moderate views on Islam.  Ukraine's second 
largest Muslim organization, the SDMU, is led by Sheikh 
Akhmed Tamim and has 64 registered communities.  It is based 
in Kyiv, it is a member of the inter-confessional All Ukraine 
Council of Churches and Religious Organization, and is known 
for its moderate views on Islam.  A third organization, the 
Independent Spiritual Center of Muslims of Ukraine, has 19 
registered communities located mostly in Donetsk and Luhansk 
Oblasts in the East. 
3.  (SBU)  Newcomer Arraid, registered in 1997 as a 
non-profit civic organization, has caused concern among the 
leaders of established religious organizations, both Muslim 
and Jewish.  It currently has 14 regional branches and 
appears to be growing.  According to its website, Arraid 
founder Muazz Ubayda was refused entry into Ukraine in 2000 
and reportedly now lives Yemen.  Arraid represents mostly 
foreign-born Muslims; predominantly from Arab countries.  It 
is widely believed to receive its funding from Arab sources, 
but Arraid members refused to confirm this when asked by an 
EmbOff during a 2002 meeting (reftel). 
Egyptian Embassy Pressure and Arraid Support for Extremism 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
4.  (SBU)  SDMU leader Tamim is known as a moderate who has 
spoken out frequently against extremism, most recently at the 
ceremony marking the birth of the Prophet Mohammed in April, 
which was well attended by GoU officials and the diplomatic 
community.  Tamim born in Lebanon in 1956, has been the 
SDMU's leader since its founding in 1993.  Chief Rabbi Bleich 
of the Union of Jewish Organizations of Ukraine recently told 
Emboff that he met frequently with Tamim and that he 
supported his opposition to Arraid. 
5. (C)  Sheikh Tamim, told EmbOff on May 11 that he was 
concerned by Arraid's proselytizing of extremist views and 
challenged by its generous foreign funding.  Tamim said that 
recently Egypt's ambassador to Ukraine unofficially 
encouraged him to cooperate with Muslim extremists in Ukraine 
- presumably Arraid - and that the ambassador and his staff 
stopped attending services at Tamim's mosque after he 
refused.  He added that they have been attending Arraid's 
mosque, which Tamim felt helped added legitimacy to Arraid's 
6.  (C)  Tamim complained that well funded extremist groups 
like Arraid are better able to obtain property, construct 
mosques, and contribute to universities and student groups. 
KYIV 00001246  002 OF 003 
He added that since he refused to accept money from extremist 
sources, the SDMU frequently makes little headway in efforts 
to obtain land for mosques and mentioned a dispute with the 
Kyiv city authorities over utility rates, which resulted in 
the temporary cut-off
of heating.  He said that the GoU's 
lack of support with property restitution claims and 
allocation of land for mosque construction weakened the 
SDMU's standing in the Muslim community, which 
unintentionally played into extremists' hands. 
7.  (C) Tamim provided Emboff a booklet distributed by Arraid 
in Ukraine that included a passage encouraging material 
support - including weapons - for Muslims in Palestine, 
Lebanon, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries.  The 
booklet, "A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam" 
by I.A. Ibrahim, was printed in Egypt in 1997 in English and 
translated into Russian for distribution by Arraid. 
Arraid's Carefully Cultivated Image of Moderation 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
8.  (C)  Emboffs visited the Arraid office in February to 
follow up on Arraid participation in a USG-supported 
conference for Eastern European Muslim organization in 
November 2006,  (Note:  Given our concerns about the 
organization, at the time we recommended that no USG funding 
go to support their participation in the conference.  End 
Note.)  Emboffs spoke with its Secretary General Mousa Arad, 
Vice President Mareii Bassil, and information coordinator 
Oleg Guzik who attended the conference.  Guzik made only 
general comments about the conference and provided few 
details about what had been discussed.  Bassil described the 
organization's outreach and charitable activities.  He also 
mentioned problems with getting land from the government for 
the construction of more religious centers.  None of the 
three were born in Ukraine but all were long-term Ukraine 
residents.  Arad later mentioned that he had been born in 
9.  (C)  The Arraid center in Kyiv is located in a Soviet-era 
recreation center that was thoroughly renovated and 
modernized.  It has a large mosque, several class rooms for 
Islamic education, a cafe, auditorium, library, printing 
facility, and radio station.  (Note: the Arraid Center was 
far more fully outfitted than the SDMU's center, confirming 
Tamim's complaints about Arraid's deep pockets. end note) 
The walls were decorated with posters promoting religious 
tolerance and mementos from a wide range of visitors to the 
center including the Ambassador of Kuwait, a parliamentary 
deputy, and representatives from orthodox churches.  The 
Arraid center presented a carefully cultivated image of 
tolerance and moderation to its visitors. 
Arraid Funded by Muslim Brotherhood 
10.  (C)  In a subsequent meeting with the head of the 
Ukraine-based Institute for Middle East Studies, Alexander 
Bogomolov  told Emboffs that Arraid is connected to the 
Muslim Brotherhood, an influential Islamic network founded in 
Egypt in 1927 that seeks to establish a unified caliphate 
covering the Middle East.  It officially opposes violence 
directed against civilians, but some critics doubt its 
sincerity.  The Muslim Brotherhood has sophisticated metQds 
of Qnding charities world-wide, such as Arraid, and these 
charities frequently do not even know the origin of their 
funding.  He said that Arraid's hierarchy is multi-layered, 
with its senior members involved in what he termed 
"clandestine" activities.  Bogomolov mentioned that although 
Arraid portrayed itself as ethnically neutral, there have 
been previous power struggles between Syrians and 
Palestinians.  He asserted that Arraid's goal is to have the 
leading role in Ukraine's Muslim community, but did not 
accuse the organization of violent or terrorist links.  He 
added that several Muslim organizations, including Arraid, 
are competing for influence in Ukraine's largest Muslim 
community, the Crimean Tatars, but that thus far, extremists 
are making little headway. 
11. (C)  Comment:  Tamim has previously raised his concerns 
to us about Arraid, but this is the first time he mentioned 
involvement by Egypt's ambassador and provided an example 
literature it distributed that mentioned providing weapons to 
Muslims.  To be fair, there is only one passage referring to 
weapons in the 80-page booklet and there may be some truth to 
Arraid counter-statements implying that Tamim feels 
threatened by its growing influence.  Bogomolov's expert 
credentials give credence to Arraid's ties to foreign 
funding, but he did not link it with extremist or terrorist 
activities in Ukraine.  Although this could be nothing more 
than a struggle for dominance among local Muslim 
KYIV 00001246  003 OF 003 
organizations, we take Tamim's concerns seriously.  We will 
continue to seek ways to support those organizations that 
promote religious toleration and moderation, while monitoring 
Arraid's activities for signs of support for promoting 
extremism in Ukraine. 
12. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 




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