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“Forward Thinking” Brought Jihadi Into House of Commons

Some of you might have read this remarkable story in the Telegraph:

A man described as a suspected terrorist sympathiser closely linked to the July 7 bombers has worked for Scotland Yard and a string of councils to run training courses about “engaging” Muslim youths.

Tafazal Mohammad was described as an “individual of interest” by MI5 in 2001 when he attended a training camp with the bombings’ ringleader, Mohammed Sidique Khan.

Despite a host of links with the suicide attackers, Mohammad now promotes himself as a “professionally qualified youth and community worker” and has been paid thousands of pounds by organisations including the Metropolitan Police and Chester University.

His company, Muslim Youth Skills, charges up to £115 a head for its courses to “engage and empower hard-to-reach and marginalised groups”.

Mohammad, known as “Taf”, has never been accused of any terrorist offence but his close links with the bombers were repeatedly highlighted in the July 7 inquest, which on Friday concluded that the terrorists unlawfully killed 52 innocent people in London in 2005.

The 45-year-old was a trustee of a jihadist bookshop along with Khan, who bombed the Edgware Road train killing six, and Shehzad Tanweer, who murdered seven in the Aldgate explosion.

The coroner described him as a “suspected terrorist sympathiser” and said the bookshop was a haunt of “men with extremist views”.

Here’s the bit which really caught my eye:

Despite the links Mohammad became a prominent figure after the bombings.

He attended a seminar in the House of Commons, speaking on the theme of “engagement with Muslim youth and communities”, which was chaired by Paul Goodman, then an MP and Conservative shadow minister, and Lord Patel of Blackburn, a Labour peer, in 2008.

How did this prominent supporter of jihadist politics end up speaking in the House of Commons on the subject of “engagement”?

Simple. He was vouched for by Forward Thinking.

Forward Thinking is one of a small number of extremely energetic groups which act as facilitators of domestic and overseas extremist groups. They vouch for individuals and organisations with Islamist or Salafi Jihadi politics, and arrange for these groups to meet with, lobby, and form links with mainstream and usually liberal political organisations.

It is run by Oliver McTernan, who spent 30 years of his life as a Roman Catholic priest. It is chaired by William Sieghart, who is an outspoken Hamas supporter. Jeremy Greenstock, the arch Arabist  former Ambassador to the UN advises it on matters of diplomacy

This is how Forward Thinking describes its work:

To promote in the UK greater understanding and confidence between the diverse grassroots Muslim communities and the wider society including the Media and the British establishment.

To promote a more inclusive peace process in the Middle East.

To facilitate a global dialogue between the religious and secular worlds

Have a look through the Harry’s Place archives, and you’ll understand very quickly that this is merely a euphemism for “we support Hamas”.

Once a public figure has shared a platform with an extremist Islamist, the hope is that they’ll trust Forward Thinking’s judgement, rather than blog or newspaper reports which expose the extremist’s true politics. They’ll be told by Forward Thinking that they’re taking part in a crucial dialogue of civilisations, that the political extremist is in fact a relative moderate and a bridge builder, and that by “engaging” they are helping to establish respect, understanding and peace. You will be congratulated for your courage and foresight.

When you’ve signed on to Forward Thinking’s agenda, the hope is that you’re much less likely to criticise Islamists, or the groups which facilitate their politics. To do so, after all, would be to call into question your own judgement.

That is how the pro-Islamist lobby has built its castle.