On 12 September, William Shawcross, chairman of Britain's Charity Commission, addressed a crowd of leading experts and representatives from the British charitable and financial sectors, and announced that:
We are stepping up our work to prevent and tackle terrorist abuse of charities. The misuse of charities for terrorist purposes represents a despicable inversion of everything charity stands for and we will fight that without quarter. And we have put out very clear guidance to charities about extremist and controversial speakers. It is unacceptable for charities to promote the views of individuals who promote violence and terrorism.
We should welcome, then, the promise by Shawcross that pro-terror organizations will no longer be free to employ the moral monopoly afforded by charitable status to shroud their extremist activities.
Unfortunately, however, charities accused of extremism do not appear to be concerned by any of the proposed changes. Interpal, for example, a leading British charity supported by a number of British politicians and cabinet members, is, in the United States, designated a terrorist organization. A comprehensive profile of Interpal, written by this author and published by the Gatestone Institute in January 2013, examined the charity's links to terrorist groups as well as its trustees and staff's expressed support for extremist ideas.
This is not the first time action has been promised. Back in June, Shawcross stated: "We in the commission know that evil often tries to subvert the innate generosity of the charitable impulse for terrorist purposes. The whole country has been appalled by the acts of terror we have witnessed in recent years. We shall redouble our efforts against terrorist subversion of charities."
Since the time that the Charity Commission chairman promised to punish groups that promote extremism, Interpal has organized a number of events that, once again, demonstrate that extremist organizations continue to abuse their charitable status without sanction.
On 21 September, Interpal hosted an event entitled "Courage and Compassion in Crisis" at the Queens Park Community Centre in Bradford. The speaker was Uthman Lateef, an Islamist preacher who holds a Masters degree in "Crusader Studies" from Damascus University. In one audio recording obtained by the Gatestone Institute, Lateef advocates the violent destruction of the non-Muslim world and expresses support for convicted terrorists.
In 2009, Lateef spoke on the same platform as the late Al Qaeda leader Anwar Awlaki at the London Muslim Centre (in 2011, Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike). Lateef claims that the Dajjal [Anti-Christ] will be a Jew, who will lead 70,000 Jewish soldiers in an apocalyptic attempt to destroy the Muslim people.
Lateef is a vocal supporter of Muhammad Hamid, whom he describes as "our dear brother ... locked up unfairly under false terror charges." Hamid is a convicted "terrorist instructor" who is a serving a prison sentence after running military-style camps for would-be suicide bombers and other terrorists. Hamid, who called himself 'Osama bin London', was involved with the 2005 tube bombers as well as the Woolwich killer Michael Adebolajo.
The Queens Park Community Centre, at which the event was held, is a government-run and taxpayer-funded building.
Lateef's talk raised £1600 for Interpal's work, which, as previously illustrated, includes support for the Palestinian terror organization, Hamas.
For October 6th, for example, Interpal has announced yet another event that leaves Lateef's talk looking positively docile.
Abdul Hakim Quick – a preacher from the Islamic Education and Research Academy, who has called upon God to "clean and purify Al-Aqsa from the ﬁlth of the Yahood [Jews]" and to "clean all of the lands from the ﬁlth of the Kaﬁrun [non-believers]." He has also stated: "They said 'what is the Islamic position [on homosexuality]?' And I told them. Put my name in the paper. The punishment is death. And I'm not going to change this religion."
Murtazah Khan – a British Islamist preacher who teaches at Al Noor Primary School, a Muslim school in London. Khan openly expressed hatred for Christians and Jews: "Those whom the wrath of Allah is upon, is the Jews, is the Christians. We have become Jews in our clothing, Jews in our eating, Jews in everything that we do ... And people are still not waking up to understand the fact that these people are enemies towards us."
In a lecture entitled, "Death and the Grave," Khan incited British Muslims to violence, and praised "martyrdom" as exalted in Islam: "The ultimate form [of martyrdom] for a man is to die in the way of Allah. That's why it is always referred to as qital. Fighting, not jihad, as some people try to understand it, because jihad translates as struggle, but the real meaning is qital, to fight." Khan supports suicide bombers in Israel, Iraq and Chechnya, and advocates the murder of homosexuals.
Ibrahim Hewitt – one of Interpal's trustees. Hewitt has said: "By their behaviour in vandalising and destroying Mosques and Churches, the Jews have demonstrated that they cannot be entrusted with the sanctity and security of this Holy Land". In a pamphlet written by Hewitt, entitled What Does Islam Say?, he advocates the death penalty for apostates and adulterers, and demands that homosexuals suffer "severe punishments" for their "great sin" [Ibrahim Hewitt, What does Islam Say?, The Muslim Educational Trust, April 2004].
Muslim Belal – a "performance poet," whose name is actually Ashley Chin. In 2005, he performed at the Global Peace and Unity event, a large conference organized by the Muslim Brotherhood in London. In 2010, The Daily Telegraph reported that at the conference, "items glorifying terrorism were on open sale... Also available were 'shahada headbands' as worn by many Palestinian suicide bombers... The headbands contain the personal testimony of the suicide bombers." Belal composes nasheeds [an Islamic song without instruments] that promote fundamentalist Islam, one of which expresses support for Aafia Siddiqui, a convicted murderer who, when arrested, was found with documents planning chemical attacks against civilian targets. During her trial, Siddiqui tried to fire her lawyers because they were Jews, who she claims are "cruel, ungrateful, back-stabbing."
Abu Usamah ad-Dhahabi – an Imam at the Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham. Dhahabi (also spelled Thahabi) has expressed support for Osama bin Laden and has said: "If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that's my freedom of speech, isn't it?" Dhahabi, according to a report by the Centre for Social Cohesion, also "advocates holy war in an Islamic state; preaches hatred against non-Muslims; that apostasy and homosexuality are punishable by death; and that women are inferior to men."
In the wake of promises by the Charity Commission to crack down on extremism, why does Interpal feel able to organize these events and promote these speakers, despite its status as a charitable organization? Interpal is probably betting that the Commission will never obtain the political support to act effectively. However keen Shawcross might be to challenge extremists' abuse of charitable status, the legitimacy afforded to extremist groups both politically and demographically means that effective sanctions against extremist groups are unlikely to be realized.
Even leading politicians who have directly observed the violence that results from extremist groups refuse to act. Shawcross mentioned in his speech, for example, that, "In the last decade, student groups in London Universities frequently invited the Islamist propagandist Anwar Al Awlaki to speak in person or by video. It was he whose sermons incited a young British Muslim student to try to murder her MP, Stephen Timms. It was a mercy Mr Timms survived her knife attack."
Stephen Timms, just six months after being stabbed by this radicalized Islamist, declared his support for the Al Muntada Trust, a Salafi charity accused by Nigerian media of funding Boko Haram, a terrorist group affiliated to Al Qaeda. Al Muntada regularly hosts events and conferences featuring speakers such as Muhammad Al Arifi, who encourages jihad against "non-believers," and believes that "devotion to Jihad for the sake of Allah, and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defence of His religion, is, undoubtedly, an honour for the believer."
Will the Charity Commission finally be able to shut down those charities that promote extremism and whose trustees express support for terror groups? Or is it all, once again, just empty rhetoric?