British authorities are investigating the source of a document that purportedly outlines a plot by Muslim fundamentalists to Islamize public schools in England and Wales.
The four-page document describes a strategy—dubbed Operation Trojan Horse—to oust non-Muslim head teachers and staff at state schools in Muslim neighborhoods and replace them with individuals who will run the schools according to strict Islamic principles.
A copy of the undated and unsigned document was sent to the Birmingham City Council in November 2013, but its existence did not become publicly known until March 2014, when it was leaked to the London-based newspaper, the Sunday Times.
According to document, which can be read in full here, the five-pronged strategy is to:
Step 1. "Identify schools based in Muslim areas that you want to target... Start with the poorest performing schools first as they will be easiest for you to influence and take over."
Step 2. "Identify any Salafi [radical Islamists] parents within the school community. They are always the most committed to the faith and are hardliners in that regard and once charged up they keep going for longer... When the parents have been identified, we start to turn them against the head teacher and leadership team. The only way to do this is to tell each parent that the school is corrupting their children with sex education, teaching about homosexuals, making their children pray Christian prayers and [taking part in] mixed swimming and sports."
Step 3. The next step is to "parachute in" Muslim governors "to drip-feed our ideal for a Muslim school."
Step 4. "Identify key staff to disrupt the school from within... to eventually accuse the head of doing something wrong so that... the head resigns, or is sacked. It is also important... to ensure you have an English face amongst the group as this makes it much more believable."
Step 5. "Instigate an anonymous... letter campaign [to be circulated to MPs, press and ministers].... All these things will work towards wearing the head down, removing his/her resolve and weakening their mindset so they eventually just give up."
The document adds that the tactics to be used are:
"…totally invisible to the naked eye and allow us to operate under the radar. I have detailed the plan we have in Birmingham and how well it has worked and you will see how easy the whole process is to get the head teacher out and our own person in."
"[We have] caused a great amount of organized disruption in Birmingham and as a result we have our own academies and are on the way to getting rid of more head teachers and taking over their schools."
"Whilst sometimes the practices we use may not seem the correct way to do things you must remember this is a 'Jihad' and as such using all means possible to win the war is acceptable."
The document—which claims responsibility for recent takeovers of four schools and says it would be easy to do the same elsewhere—concludes: "We have an obligation to our children to fulfil our roles and ensure these schools are run on Islamic principles."
The former headmaster of Saltley School in Birmingham resigned following a plot by Islamist fanatics to oust him. (Image source: Screenshot from BBC video)
Speculation is rife about the source of the document. The Sunday Times believes the plot is the work of "disaffected parents" belonging to the Salafist branch of Islam who want to Islamize British society.
The Birmingham Mail says the document was probably written by a jihadist in Birmingham to an accomplice in Bradford because it contains the following sentence: "Operation Trojan Horse has been very carefully thought through and is tried and tested within Birmingham, implementing it in Bradford will not be difficult for you."
In an editorial, the Birmingham Mail also writes:
"The claim that Islamic fundamentalists are seeking to take over the running of several city schools, imposing their primitive world-view, will cause massive alarm. We make no judgment on the truth—or otherwise—of these very serious allegations. But it is clear that they need thorough investigation, that the inquiry must be transparent and that appropriate action must be taken if the claims are proved."
By contrast, Tahir Alam—a Birmingham school governor and prominent member of the Muslim Council of Britain who is mentioned in the leaked document—told the Guardian newspaper that the document was "a malicious fabrication and completely untrue."
Even if ongoing police investigations eventually conclude that the document is an elaborate hoax, what remains beyond dispute is that it addresses genuine problems linked to the growing assertiveness of Islam in the British school system.
For example, the Guardian—an otherwise inveterate enforcer of British multiculturalism—quotes senior teachers and school officials in Birmingham who say they recognize the tactics outlined in the document as having been used by Islamic hardliners to try to gain influence in the city's schools for over a decade.
Other accounts (here and here) reveal how British teachers have been bullied, smeared and driven from their jobs for resisting Islamic extremists. They tell of demands for strict dress codes, including long sleeves and wearing of the hijab for women teachers and girl pupils, and calls that Christmas celebrations, Easter eggs and any reference to Christianity should be banned.
An investigation by The Telegraph newspaper documents how an organized group of Muslim teachers, education consultants, school governors and activists is dedicated to furthering what one of them describes as an "Islamizing agenda" in Birmingham public schools.
Social media messages leaked to The Telegraph show how Muslim activists participating in a closed discussion group called "Educational Activists" describe their goals and tactics. In a typical entry—dated February 5, 2014—one member, Nasim Awan, an Islamic bookshop owner, political activist and former chair of the city's Springfield Neighborhood Forum, boasts:
"A battle was fought and won tonight at a large inner city primary school where the governors voted by 8-7 in favor of collective worship that is wholly or mainly of an Islamic character, thereby overturning five years of 'children pray in their own way and language!' The governing body is now polarized on faith grounds."
Other messages from different members include Islamic supremacist or anti-Semitic rhetoric. "JEWS have intentionally developed some websites to spread wrong information about the Koran," says one. Another message, sent from the mobile number of the deputy head of Carlton Bolling School in Bradford, Akhmed Hussain, says: "Al-Islam will prevail over all other ways of life. Look at how [the] Muslim population is increasing in the UK."
Still another message leaked to The Telegraph shows that educational excellence is not the main priority for the so-called educational activists. Awan writes: "First agenda item [for the new head teacher] is to apply for a determination," an official procedure to establish Islamic forms of worship at the school.
But Razwan Faraz, a deputy head teacher in Birmingham, advises Awan to pursue a more tactical approach:
"She [Shanaz Khan, a new Muslim head teacher at Small Heath, a secular state secondary school in Birmingham] is a very astute lady. She knows her game," Faraz writes. "Please don't pressurize her to start the Islamizing agenda first. That will be a lot easier when she is respected as leader. She has to establish herself with minimum controversy for the first six months, and lead the people to believe in her before they believe in her policies."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.