Municipal elections rarely become national news items – and even more rarely attract international attention. Yet the upcoming elections scheduled for Tower Hamlets, one of London's most significant wards of Islamist political activity, demand scrutiny.

The Islamic Forum of Europe {IFE} is a hardline Islamist group whose literature states that the group "strives for the establishment of a global society, the Khilafah [the Caliphate]... comprised of individuals who live by the principles of ... the Shari'ah." Another leaflet says the IFE wants to change the "very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed ... from ignorance to Islam," and has been pursuing "entryist" tactics to sway the political agenda in its favor (see here and here ).

One of its senior members, Azad Ali, was secretly filmed by journalists, saying, "Democracy, if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia, of course no one agrees with that."

Despite having been exposed by Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan, the IFE does not seem to be inclined to moderate its views. The Tower Hamlets council in East London retains one of the biggest budgets of any council in the country, about £1 billion in total; and will also be the council responsible for delivering the Olympics in 2012. For the first time in its history, Tower Hamlets is now preparing to have a directly-elected Mayor.

Labour's former council leader, Lutfur Rahman – noit an uncontroversial character -- won a ballot of Tower Hamlets's party members, and looked destined to win the Mayoral election next month. When Gilligan investigated IFE's infiltration of the Labour Party, he alleged that Rahman only secured the leadership with the help of the IFE. Rahman refused to deny this on camera when Gilligan interviewed him. As an excerpt from the transcript reveals:

Question by Andrew Gilligan: At the last Labour Group annual general meeting, the previous leader, Helal Abbas, said that the IFE controlled the council. Do you agree with that?

Cllr Rahman: You'll have to ask Mr. Helal Abbas on his comments, I cannot –

Q: What do you make of his comments?

Cllr Rahman: I cannot comment on the comments that he has made. What matters to me is this; That the Labour group is run by Labour councillors, of which I am the leader.

Q: Do you agree with that comment that he made?

Cllr Rahman: The Labour group runs this council.

Q: But you are not denying that comment?

Cllr Rahman: I am denying that no other external organization influences the Labour Group. I'm denying that; I, as a Labour member, as the Labour leader of the Labour Group; I, together with my other 32 Labour councillors, we run the Labour Group.

Q: Okay. Your own party colleague, Jim Fitzpatrick, has said that the IFE are quote 'acting almost as an entryist organisation, placing people within the political parties.'

Cllr Rahman: I have a lot of respect for Jim. The comments he makes, they are his views. I'm working away very hard to make sure –

Q: Is he wrong?

Cllr Rahman: – he gets re-elected. The comments he has made are his comments; I'm not going to comment on those comments. What matters to me –


Q: Do you disagree with that? I mean, I haven't heard, yet, a denial.

Cllr Rahman: Andrew, thank you very much, I'm not going to be drawn into those sort of arguments. All that I can say is that I have a lot of respect for Jim, we are working away hard for him to be elected as a Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse. And what matters to me, Jim and I, together with our other Labour colleagues, [is] to continue to deliver excellent services for the people of Tower Hamlets, that's what matters to me.

Q: Mr Fitzpatrick also says,quote" 'there is a suggestion that there are a number of Tower Hamlets councillors who are very close,' to the IFE. 'It is difficult to believe that to be other than the case.'

Cllr Rahman: Sure. This concerns me. This suggestion concerns me.

Q: Is it wrong?

Cllr Rahman: This suggestion concerns me, whether it's right or wrong. I mean only he's told –

Q: You're not saying it's wrong?

Cllr Rahman : Can I just finish, please, Andrew. What matters to me is this, and I'm concerned that this suggestion has been made: If any of my Labour councillors belong to an organization which they have not declared, give us the evidence. Give us the evidence, and we will ask the legal officer to investigate such allegations. But without such allegations being put forward to us, I cannot comment on those comments.

Rahman has also been the subject of allegations that he has personally signed up and paid for voters to join the Labour Party to bolster his position. Again, transcripts from Andrew Gilligan's interview with some of those signed up appear to reveal a startling abuse of power:

Andrew Gilligan: So how did you come to join the party? You all joined on the same day I think? [In fact five of them joined on the same day]

Mr Malique: Same day, yeah.

AG: how did that happen, did someone come round and ask you to join or did you just decide to?

Mr Malique: Yeah, someone came round.

AG: Someone came round? [Mr Malique nods]. Who came round and asked you to join?

Mr Malique: Lutfur Rahman.

AG: Lutfur Rahman, OK, all right, OK. And what happened – did he give you the form, or did he give you the money to pay the subscription?

Mr Malique: Yeah, yeah. He gave me the form.

AG: He gave you the form. And did he give you the money to pay the subscription as well?

Mr Malique: Yes [and nods].

AG: He did. All right, OK. And you all signed the form at the same time as well? You were all in the house and you all signed at the same time? [Mr Malique nods]

AG: So these are your…

Mr Malique: Me and my wife.

AG: And the other four are your family?

Mr Malique: My family. They are living in other house…

AG: Just to re-check, how did you pay your subscriptions, can I ask? Did you pay with your own money, or did Lutfur give you some money?

Mr Malique: [Long pause] I cannot lie to you. My son, my son knows everything.

Shortly after the program aired, Lutfur Rahman lost his job. He was replaced as leader by another Labour councillor, Helal Abbas, who drew attention to the fact that Tower Hamlets council was controlled by the IFE.

That Rahman was selected as Labour's mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets reveals the ongoing extent of the IFE's influence – and their ambitions to reinstall their man at the helm.

Fuelling that perception was the remarkable decision by the RESPECT party – a new political party based on an alliance between Trotskyite elements of the Socialist Workers Party and activists from the IFE – not to field a candidate against Rahman, despite the party's having invested considerable resources into Tower Hamlets in recent years. It was, in fact, RESPECT that first initiated the campaign for Tower Hamlets to have a directly-elected mayor. Yet, after Rahman's candidature was confirmed by the Labour Party, RESPECT issued a statement that said:

Tower Hamlets Respect Party last night decided by an overwhelming majority not to stand a candidate in the forthcoming mayoral election. Instead, Tower Hamlets Respect calls on all its members, supporters and voters to vote for Lutfur Rahman to be Tower Hamlets' first executive mayor. Respect remains a major player in Tower Hamlets, getting 17,000 votes over the two parliamentary constituencies in May earlier this year.

Just when it looked as if the Islamist-Trotskyist nexus might steal Tower Hamlets, however, the ground shifted beneath them.

Peter Golds, leader of the opposition on Tower Hamlets council, reported Lutfur Rahman to the police over a series of allegedly undeclared links with local businessmen. As Andrew Gilligan reports, "it is alleged that Lutfur has received thousands of pounds in undeclared support from these backers – if true, a criminal offence under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act."

Following Rahman's referral to the police – and the potential for embarrassment it could cause the Labour Party – Rahman was suspended by Labour's National Executive. Their statement reads:

Having received a number of serious allegations concerning both the eligibility of participating voters and the conduct of Lutfur Rahman, the National Executive Committee has decided to investigate the allegations made.

As a result, administrative action has been taken to remove Lutfur Rahman as a candidate, pending the investigation. Nominations for Tower Hamlets mayor close this week and, in the circumstances, the NEC had no option but to impose another candidate.

To further underscore the extent to which the Islamist-Trotskyist nexus was investing its hopes in Rahman to scoop the mayoralty for them, RESPECT reacted to news of his de-selection with this remarkable statement:

The Respect Party has been reviewing its decision not to stand in the Tower Hamlets mayoral election following Lutfur Rahman's extraordinary deselection. There is a consensus in Respect that Respect will stand a candidate if Lutfur Rahman is unsuccessful in his legal action to overturn the decision to deselect him, and if he does not then stand as an independent candidate. Two candidates will be considered for selection in these circumstances – George Galloway and Abjol Miah. Final decisions on a candidate will be reached in the next 36 hours, and we have booked an appointment with the Returning Officer to submit papers for Respect's candidate on Friday morning, just a few hours before nominations close.

Rahman employed the services of an extremist solicitor, Makbool Javaid who has previously been linked to al-Muhajiroun to challenge the Labour party's decision. Javaid opposes "man-made law;" supports the creation of a Caliphate from an Al Muhajiroun platform, and has signed a "declaration of war" on the United Kingdom. Not surprisingly, Rahman's legal challenge failed at the first hurdle.

One of Rahman's supporters, an IFE/RESPECT linked activist, Bodrul Islam, urged him to stand as an independent candidate, arguing that voters could be urged to back him along racial and sectarian lines. Bodrul Islam wrote:

I personally think [Rahman] should do what Ken Livingstone did, stand as an independent. With his popularity he will win, as the block Bengali vote will be activated like never before.

Bodrul also described Helal Abbas – the Labour Muslim candidate replacing Rahman who publicly spoke out against the IFE and their Islamist politics – as a "castrated prostitute." Rahman took the advice and announced his candidacy as an Independent. RESPECT has, again, backed him; and decided not to field a candidate against him.

There are just over three weeks until the people of Tower Hamlets take to the polls in this most crucial election. They are the only ones with the power to influence this election – but, whatever the result, the ramifications of their choices will be felt far beyond East London.

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