If one of your co-workers, or a fellow worshippers, started to talk about fighting and killing Muslims, who he believed were responsible for attacking God and creating misery in the world, what would you do?
I wouldn’t quite know whether to call the police, or the mental health services. I think I would probably call both.
That is not what the Luton Islamic Centre did, however. They refused to report him to the police. Instead, they had a theological discussion with him. When he disagreed, he left and went on to his university’s ISOC, where it is now being suggested he recruited and radicalised others.
Here is the Mail’s interview with Farasat Latif of the Luton Islamic Centre:
Eventually, he stormed out in 2007 after being challenged – but not reported to police – over his calls for violence.
Luton Islamic Centre secretary Farasat Latif said: ‘When he first arrived he would be going in the kitchen, the library and the prayer rooms helping out – almost too enthusiastically. That’s when people got suspicious.
‘He started talking radical ideas to the young, impressionable teenagers. But when one of us elders walked over he would immediately shut up. ‘He was targeting the young men who were full of anger and angst and could be easily led astray.
‘We don’t know if he was getting funding from extremists linked to terrorist groups – but it was very odd how he just turned up briefly.’
The Home Office’s Preventing Violent Extremism scheme, currently under review for being ineffective, gives Islamic groups generous grants – but the Luton Islamic Centre refused to sign up.
Islamic Centre chairman Qadeer Baksh said: ‘The reason we didn’t take the Government money for the Preventing Violent Extremism scheme is that it requires us to inform on fellow Muslims. If we had taken the money our members would have seen us as working for the Government. The young men with radical views would not have listened to us.’
A narrative is developing which paints the Luton Islamic Centre as a line of defence against terrorism. It isn’t. The best you can say about it is that they may have prevented this man from using one mosque as his base of operations. Some achievement.
Here’s the BBC’s Communities Reporter, Niki Cardwell, on the subject
Abdaly was challenged at a prayer meeting and his views were denounced. We should be welcoming and applauding this. They got it right.
This is the same community that asked the local media not to give Islamist group al-Muhajiroun air-time because it did not represent the views of the majority and gave a distorted view of Islam.
Maybe this is the end – not the beginning – of extremism being linked to Luton.
The revolution may be coming from within. And it is not the revolution that vocal minority had hoped for.
The trouble is, as we have already seen, the Luton Islamic Centre pushes vicious and inflammatory material that vilifies Shias (who they believe are a Jewish plot), Jews, Gays and rape victims. Now, we discover, they also oppose as a matter of principle, “informing on fellow Muslims”.
We’ve been here before.
The Al Qaeda recruiter Anwar Al Awlaki, told worshippers at the East London Mosque that:
A Muslim is a brother of a Muslim, he does not oppress him, he does not betray him and he does not hand him over… You don’t hand over a Muslim to the enemies.”
Islamist politicians are still insisting – utterly without foundation – that Awlaki was a moderate at the time, and that the East London Mosque is also a cornerstone in the battle against terrorism, without which we’d be defenceless. I don’t buy that.
Yes, these institutions should be praised for their opposition to terrorism in the United Kingdom. But, look – most people are opposed to murder. However, pretty much every Islamist institution supports terrorism in principle, either because they are aligned with groups like the Taliban or because they are supporters of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. So, essentially, we’re applauding a politics which advocates both terrorism and theocratic and totalitarian politics, in the vain hope that our indulgence will forestall the bombs on the streets of our own city.
This strategy is not going to work. It won’t work because Salafis like the Luton Islamic Centre are validating a political ideology which is only a hair’s breadth away from that of the active Salafi Jihadis. It won’t work because many of these groups see their primary aim as being defending hate preachers, some of whom turn out to be Al Qaeda, from criticism. It won’t work because even when these groups do identify a Salafi jihadi terrorist in the making, they don’t report him to the police. Instead, they send him merrily on his way, perhaps to found his own network, and to commit acts of terrorism.
I am sorry to say this: but there’s little sign of this lesson being learned, in Government.