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Finsbury Park Mosque: Abdulmutalab-Awlaki Link?

There is an intriguing article by James Forsyth at the Spectator blog, that suggests a link between Finsbury Park Mosque, the Al Qaeda preacher Anwar al Awlaki and the Undiebomber, Abdulmutalab.

Khalid Mahmood MP, who resigned earlier this year as a trustee of the Finsbury Park Mosque, has put down the following question for Theresa May:

‘Mr Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr):

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent reports she has received on

(a) investigations undertaken by members of the US Congress and

(b) materials held by the US Department of Justice on the attendance of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab at any events addressed by Anwar al-Awlaki at North London Central Mosque since 2005;

and what assessment her Department has made of the role of the North London Central Mosque in deradicalisation in the content of her Department’s review of each strand of the Prevent strategy.’

The Finsbury Park Mosque used to be the base of the jihadi preacher, Abu Hamza. It was then gifted – with the assistance of the pro-Islamist copper, Bob Lambert – to a new board of Trustees, bolstered with a number of individuals with links to the Muslim Brotherhood and – in the case of Sawalha – Hamas. Bob Lambert now runs an academic research project at the University of Exeter called the European Muslim Research Centre. Its first report was funded, at least in part, by the Cordoba Institute and Islam Expo, both of which are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mahmood is not too pleased with the way that the Finsbury Park Mosque has been run by his former co-trustees, and has been urging its investigation ever since he discovered that his signature had been forged on certain documents.

He has now asked the Home Secretary, Theresa May:

“I wish to seek further reassurances about the extent and nature of ‘deradicalisation’ of this mosque after the explusion of Abu Hamza and his crew. I therefore strongly urge you to include North London Central Mosque in your Department’s planned review of the Prevent strand of “Contest” and related activities.”

Lambert’s thesis is that only the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties – who support repression, totalitarianism and terrorism outside the United Kingdom – can protect us from Al Qaeda attacks within the United Kingdom. This thesis is bunkum. We might as well promote the British National Party in the hope that it will encourage white people not to join Combat 18.

The truth is, there isn’t much to divide the “moderate” Islamists from Al Qaeda-ists like Awlaki. They believe and say broadly the same thing. The only difference is that Al Qaeda-ists directly threaten us with terrorist attacks if we don’t do what they tell us, while “moderate” Islamists ruefully advise us that they won’t be able to prevent terrorist attacks unless we do what they tell us.

More to the point, almost all the “moderate” Islamist organisations have hosted Awlaki or sold his publications. For example, the Cordoba Institute – one of Bob Lambert’s funders – sponsored a CagePrisoners event at which Awlaki was to give the keynote speech. The very best you can say about the “moderate” Islamists that Lambert champions is that they can’t tell the difference between themselves and Al Qaeda preachers. So, how precisely are they supposed to be protecting us against terrorism?

It would be very interesting, therefore, to see whether there is a link between the Finsbury Park Mosque, Abdulmutalab, and Awlaki. Peter King, ranking member of the Congressional Comittee on Homeland Security quotes from a report on National Public Radio:

‘Intelligence officials say the mosque figures in the Abdulumttaalab case, too. In tracing the path  of Abdulmutallab, intelligence officials say he apparently attended a sermon at the Finsbury Park Mosque in the fall of 2006 or 2007. He went to listen to the man who would become his mentor and perhaps his al-Qaida recruiter: Awlaki.’

Let us see what that inquiry produces.

Awlaki was detained in Yemen in August 2006 and released in December 2007. Therefore, I’d be interested to hear exactly what evidence NPR and the US administration has on this subject. Was there a video link to Yemen in 2006, for example? Or are we talking about the viewing of a tape.

Last week – slightly belatedly – he was designated by the Obama administration as a “Key Leader of Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula“. As a footnote, we learn from this designation why Awlaki was originally detained:

Aulaqi was imprisoned in Yemen in 2006 on charges of kidnapping for ransom and being involved in an al-Qa’ida plot to kidnap a U.S. official but was released from jail in December 2007…

The line spun by the “moderate” Islamists is that Awlaki was a peaceful kinda guy, up until his imprisonment. In fact, he had documented ties to jihadi terrorism going back to the 1990s, and was the Imam of the mosque that two of the 9/11 hijackers attended.