How the Muslim Brotherhood fits into a network of extremism
The Muslim Brotherhood’s objective is to replace secular democratic government with an Islamic caliphate under sharia law
The Government is preparing a major clampdown on organisations linked to the terror group Hamas after the long-awaited publication of its review into the Muslim Brotherhood.
The review, by the former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins, has been delayed for months amid disputes about how strongly it should say the Brotherhood is linked to terrorism.
It is expected to say that the Brotherhood, a multifaceted organisation, is not itself a terrorist group and should not be banned, a verdict most analysts agree with.
However, the report will dismiss claims by the Brotherhood that there is “no evidence” of links between it and terrorism. “There are clear links and Jenkins will trigger further action against some Brotherhood and Hamas-linked groups,” said one official source. Many of the groups have already been squeezed by removing their bank accounts.
Only a summary of the Jenkins report will be published. However, a separate investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has found a number of clear overlaps between the Brotherhood’s UK operations and those of organisations linked to Hamas, which is banned as a terrorist organisation throughout the Western world. In particular, it is striking how often they appear to share premises.
One person involved in counter-extremism said: “When you start forensically going through the names and locations, there’s no way the Brotherhood can keep up the denials.”
The Sunday Telegraph has established that the main hubs for the Brotherhood’s operations in Europe are Westgate House, a serviced office block at the Hangar Lane roundabout in Ealing, west London, and Crown House, about half a mile north of it on the North Circular Road.
The two buildings contain at least 25 organisations linked to the Brotherhood, or to Hamas. A third building very close by – Pinnacle House on Old Oak Common Lane – houses Interpal, another major charity which has had close links to the Brotherhood and Hamas. Interpal is banned by the US government as a terrorist organisation.
Crown House, above, and, below, Westgate House, both in London, are the Muslim Brotherhood’s main hubs in Europe
Interpal is allowed to operate in the UK after claiming it has broken its links with Hamas, a claim accepted by the Charity Commission.
However, its managing trustee, Essam Mustafa, was pictured just over a year ago accompanying the Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, on an official visit in Gaza. The two were later filmed clapping and singing together. Mr Mustafa is a former member of Hamas’s executive committee.
The organisations based at Westgate House include the Cordoba Foundation, described by David Cameron as a “political front for the Muslim Brotherhood” and run by Anas al-Tikriti, the key spokesman and lobbyist for the Brotherhood in Britain, though he claims not to be a member himself. The Cordoba Foundation’s office is on the seventh floor of the building.
Mr al-Tikriti states openly that “the Brotherhood supports Hamas. I believe that if you are occupied you need to fight back.” Mr al-Tikriti co-founded a group called the British Muslim Initiative with a senior commander in Hamas, Mohammed Sawalha, and a Hamas “special envoy,” Azzam Tamimi.
The seventh floor of Westgate House also houses the Muslim Charities Forum, an umbrella body for 10 British charities, at least six of which have funded Hamas organisations and most of which can also be linked to the Brotherhood.
The Muslim Charities Forum was stripped of £250,000 in Government grants in December in what the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, described as a decision to “cease funding any organisation that supports or is linked to individuals who fuel hatred, division and violence.” More than £100,000 of the grant has already been paid, however.
Six of the Muslim Charities Forum’s 10 members are or were members of the Union of Good, also known as the 101 Days Campaign. The Union of Good is designated by the US Treasury Department as a terrorist organisation created by the Hamas leadership “in order to facilitate the transfer of funds to Hamas”.
The Union of Good is chaired by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a key intellectual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who has twice turned down offers to become its political leader.
Mr Al-Qaradawi, who is banned from the UK, is a strong supporter of suicide bombings, describing Israeli civilians as legitimate targets. The Union of Good’s founder and general secretary was Essam Mustafa, the managing trustee of the British charity Interpal.
Members of the Muslim Charities Forum include Muslim Aid, which has admitted funding organisations run by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Islamic Help, which works closely with a Hamas front organisation in Gaza; Muslim Hands, which also funds Hamas front bodies; and Human Appeal International, accused by the FBI, CIA and in the leaked US diplomatic telegrams of funding Hamas and of other terrorist links.
The Cordoba Foundation’s Anas al-Tikriti
The Brotherhood’s objective is to replace secular democratic government with an Islamic caliphate under sharia law. Members swear an oath of allegiance declaring that “the Quran is our constitution” and “to die for the sake of God is our greatest objective”.
The Brotherhood’s leaders insist that it works democratically – albeit to secure the replacement of democracy – and says the British Government review is a form of “pandering” by Britain to Gulf dictatorships.
Hamas’s 1988 founding charter states that it is “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine”, but the British government has tended to treat Hamas and the Brotherhood as unconnected.
The organisations based at Crown House comprise broadly the Brotherhood’s UK outreach wing. They include the Palestinian Return Centre, the Brotherhood campaign group with the closest links to mainstream politics.
The PRC last month met David Quarrey, director for the Middle East at the Foreign Office, according to its website, and was also present at the Labour Friends of Palestine annual dinner in November, addressed by the Labour leader, Ed Miliband. Many MPs have spoken at its events.
The PRC has close links to the Brotherhood, sharing directors with the Muslim Association of Britain, the Brotherhood’s main declared British affiliate.
However, it is also claimed by the Israeli government to be “Hamas’s organisational branch in Europe” whose members are “senior Hamas leaders who promote the movement’s agenda in Europe”.
The PRC denies these claims. However, it has regularly hosted Hamas leaders, including Mr Haniyeh, at its annual conferences.
Other organisations at Crown House are Middle East Monitor (Memo), a news site which promotes a strongly pro-Brotherhood and pro-Hamas view of the region. Memo’s director, Daud Abdullah, is also a leader of the Brotherhood-linked British Muslim Initiative, set up and run by the Brotherhood activist Anas al-Tikriti and two senior figures in Hamas.
Memo’s “senior editor”, Ibrahim Hewitt, is chairman of Interpal, the Hamas and Brotherhood-linked charity.
Another organisation at Crown House is the Emirates Centre for Human Rights (ECHR), also set up by Anas al-Tikriti. Its website was registered to his wife, Malath Shakir. Its founding director, Abdus Salam, is the husband of Mr al-Tikriti’s sister.
The ECHR has co-organised at least two meetings at the House of Commons with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights. The ECHR’s director, Anas Mekdad, has personally tweeted supporting recent terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. He is the founder of AlMakeen Network, a UK-based website which also publishes articles praising the Brotherhood, Hamas and suicide bombings.
Other extremist organisations based at Crown House, though not formally linked to the Brotherhood, include the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA), which sends extremist preachers around British universities and mosques.
Both Westgate House and Crown House have other tenants and there is no suggestion that all their tenants are Islamists or extremists.