Mosque school arrest following Channel 4 documentary

Police act after alleged assault on child as second mosque featured in film is forced to close amid far-right attack fears

Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent

guardian.co.uk, Monday 14 February 2011

Police have arrested a man concerning alleged assaults on children at a mosque after viewing a Channel 4 documentary screened on Monday.

Dispatches, Lessons in Hate and Violence, secretly filmed a man apparently hitting and kicking children during Qu'ran lessons at a school in the Markazi Jamia mosque at Keighley, West Yorkshire.

An Islamic school in Birmingham in the same documentary, where a preacher was filmed making offensive remarks about non-Muslims, said it would close early for half-term, amid fears pupils could be the target of far-right groups.

West Yorkshire police issued a statement regarding the arrest: "We have recently become aware of a number of incidents of alleged assault at a mosque and just before the weekend were able to view edited footage of the alleged incident. One man has been arrested and released on police bail pending further inquiries. West Yorkshire police are receiving full co-operation from the Keighley Muslim Association who are working with us in support of the inquiry."

The Birmingham footage was obtained by an undercover reporter posing as a volunteer, using a hidden camera. It showed a preacher at Darul Uloom, a fee-paying school in Small Heath, making offensive remarks about Hindus, ranting about non-Muslims and telling pupils they face torture in the afterlife if they adopt western customs such as dancing or listening to music. He tells them to avoid more liberal Muslims. "The person who's got less than a fistful of beard, then you should stay away from him the same way you should stay away from a serpent or a snake."

Another group are told in an assembly: "The disbelievers, they are the worst of all people. The Hindus do, they drink piss, I've told you this. Do they have any intellect? No."

After meeting West Midlands police, headteacher Mujahid Aziz said half-term would begin a week early. Pupils will not return to classes until March.

"What people will see in that clip is completely contrary to what we teach at the school about harmony and awareness of different faiths," said Aziz. "Our concern now is for the safety of children and people coming to the mosque, because we are worried that some people will get completely the wrong impression once they have watched this programme."

John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, criticised the documentary: "If Channel 4 thinks this is a school where racism and intolerance is accepted in any way, they have got their facts seriously wrong. [The school] have already had hate mail, and now they are having to close for the safety of their pupils. This kind of documentary is ideal fodder for the [far-right] English Defence League. Channel 4 is putting the safety of children at risk by criticising a school which is doing its job properly."

Dispatches reporter Tazeen Ahmad claimed the footage was evidence of a "hardline, intolerant and highly antisocial version of Islam" taught in independent Islamic schools.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "This investigation, which is clearly in the public interest, shows secret footage of numerous adults on different occasions teaching pupils as young as 11 years of age contempt for other religions and wider society. We stand by our investigation and think the programme speaks for itself."

Channel 4 said it was aware of the Yorkshire arrest, but had no plans to change its documentary; the broadcast would "fairly reflect the latest developments in our investigation".

A previous Dispatches documentary in Birmingham investigated the alleged preaching of hate and extremism in mosques and Islamic centres.

West Midlands police investigated o see whether criminal offences had been committed but found there was insufficient evidence to bring charges, and subsequently complained to OfCom, which rejected the complaint.

The documentary makers then began a libel action against West Midlands police and the Crown Prosecution Service for accusing them of distortion; they apologised to Hardcash Productions and agreed to pay £100,000.

The Department for Education said: "We cannot comment on individual cases, but any allegation of harsh physical punishment or the teaching of extremism in madrasas is very concerning. Abuse and harm to children is unacceptable and any allegations should be reported to the police." Inspectors had the "experience, knowledge of the faith curriculum and language skills" to inspect such schools with the rigour and objectivity required.

The Saudi Roots of an Accused Assassin
By Joel Mowbray
FrontPageMagazine.com | December 20, 2005

When a young American, barely into adulthood, coolly explained in a videotaped confession why he decided to join al Qaeda, one thing he said in particular could indicate that the threat we face is both broader and deeper than realized.

The video, which was recorded by Saudi officials and shown to jurors in the U.S. after being approved by a judge, shows now 24-year-old Abu Ali explaining his motivation for joining al Qaeda—and eventually plotting to assassinate George W. Bush.  (It was first shown publicly by NBC News, shortly after Ali was convicted late last month.)

Because Abu Ali pursued religious studies in Saudi Arabia—after graduating as valedictorian from the Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia—his case has generally not been considered one of homegrown terrorism.  Yet while it is impossible to pinpoint one exact moment where the al Qaeda operative was radicalized, the seeds of his poisonous beliefs were likely sown in the United States, not overseas.

And the indoctrination that ensnared Abu Ali could be taking place in mosques and Islamic schools in large cities and small towns.

Making Ali’s experience more ominous is what inspired him to wage holy war against his home country.  It doesn’t appear to have been—as least as his primary reason—a taste for blood or a lust for violence.  As Ali explained, he was approached in 2002 by an al Qaeda recruiter in Saudi Arabia and asked to join the Jihad, and “I immediately accepted because of my hatred of the U.S.”

More baffling than how he could hate the country of his birth so much that he was willing to give his own life to help destroy it is his reason.  What drove Ali into the arms of al Qaeda was rhetoric that can be found across the United States, not to mention Europe and the Arab world. 

It is the kind of thing uttered by Arab leaders, retired U.S. State Department officials, and most pervasively, by college professors.  His pathological hatred stemmed from “what I felt was [the U.S.’s] support of Israel against the Palestinian people.”

Forget for a moment that European and Arab “support” for Palestinians has mostly consisted of condoning or even funding Islamic terrorist organizations while propping up the hopelessly corrupt Palestinian Authority.  Even forget for a moment that much of what he knows about Israeli-Palestinian issues is undoubtedly pure propaganda.  What had this young man convinced of Jihad almost before his contact with the al Qaeda recruiter was rhetoric that is not only protected by the First Amendment, but also not outwardly solicitous of violence.

As radical as Wahhabism, the Saudi-sponsored strain of Islam, is known to be, the Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia almost certainly does not explicitly encourage violence of its students or endorse holy war.  But if listening to the Saudi royal family is any indication, Ali learned the very sentiments he cited as his justification in the Islamic school.

Most Americans remember former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani returning a $10 million check in October 2001 after the donor, Prince Waleed—now in the news for $20 million gifts to each Harvard and Georgetown—blamed the U.S. for bringing 9/11 on itself because of its foreign policy, specifically with respect to Israel.  And Prince Waleed is the “moderate” of the Saudi family.

The contempt and hostility fostered in young Abu Ali does not seem isolated to Muslims studying at the Saudi Academy.  The bipartisan Freedom House earlier this year released a 67-page report that detailed venomous and incendiary materials found in a dozen prominent mosques across the U.S.  Though there was at least one explicit call for violence, the report’s more troubling finding was that the materials routinely fomented animosity toward—and encouraged dissociation from—Jews, Christians, and secular government.  In short, almost everything not Muslim.

Worth mentioning is that all the materials were sanctioned or sponsored by the Saudis.

Found in the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., just miles from the Saudi Academy, was the following: “To be dissociated from the infidels is to hate them for their religion, to leave them, never to rely on them for support, not to admire them, to be on one's guard against them, never to imitate them and always to oppose them in every way according to Islamic law.” 

Abu Ali is not the first American to sign up for Jihad against his home country.  There have already been two full-blown, homegrown terror cells busted up in the U.S.: one in Lodi, CA, and the other in Northern Virginia.  Both cells contained operatives born and raised in the U.S.  These are just the terrorists about which we already know.

Who else is out there?  More important, if Saudi vitriol is allowed to fester or even spread, how many more Abu Alis will there be?


Muslim students 'being taught to despise unbelievers as filth'

Thu. 20 Apr 2006

The Times

By Sean O'Neill

Pupils protest as college linked to Iran puts fundamentalist text on curriculum, reports our correspondent

MUSLIM students training to be imams at a British college with strong Iranian links have complained that they are being taught fundamentalist doctrines which describe nonMuslims as “filth”.

The Times has obtained extracts from medieval texts taught to the students in which unbelievers are likened to pigs and dogs. The texts are taught at the Hawza Ilmiyya of London, a religious school, which has a sister institution, the Islamic College for Advanced Studies (ICAS), which offers a degree validated by Middlesex University.

The students, who have asked to remain anonymous, study their religious courses alongside the university-backed BA in Islamic studies. They spend two days a week as religious students and three days on their university course.

The Hawza Ilmiyya and the ICAS are in the same building at Willesden High Road, northwest London — a former Church of England primary school — and share many of the same teaching staff.

They have a single fundraising arm, the Irshad Trust, one of the managing trustees of which is Abdolhossein Moezi, an Iranian cleric and a personal representative of Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the Iranian supreme religious leader.

Mr Moezi is also the director of the Islamic Centre of England in Maida Vale, a large mosque and community centre that is a registered charity. Its memorandum of association, lodged with the Charity Commission, says that: “At all times at least one of the trustees shall be a representative of the Supreme Spiritual Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Both the Irshad Trust and the Islamic Centre of England Ltd (ICEL) were established in 1996. Mr Moezi’s predecessor as Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative, another cleric called Mohsen Araki, was a founding trustee of both charities.

In their first annual accounts, lodged with the Charity Commission in 1997, the charities revealed substantial donations. The Irshad Trust received gifts of £1,367,439 and the ICEL accepted an “exceptional item” of £1.2 million.

Around the same time, the ICEL bought a former cinema in Maida Vale without a mortgage. Since then it has received between £1 million and £1.7 million in donations each year which, it says, come from British and overseas donors. The centre declined to say if any of its money came from Iran.

Since 2000, its accountants have recorded in their auditors’ report on the charity’s accounts that they have limited evidence about the source of donations.

The links between the two charities and Iran are strong. The final three years of the eight-year Hawza Ilmiyya course are spent studying in colleges in the holy city of Qom, the power base of Iran’s religious leaders.

The text that has upset some students is the core work in their Introduction to Islamic Law class and was written by Muhaqqiq al-Hilli, a 13thcentury scholar. The Hawza Ilmiyya website states that “the module aims to familiarise the student with the basic rules of Islamic law as structured by al-Hilli”.

Besides likening unbelievers to filth, the al-Hilli text includes a chapter on jihad, setting down the conditions under which Muslims are supposed to fight Jews and Christians.

The text is one of a number of books that some students say they find “disturbing” and “very worrying”. Their spokesman told The Times: “They are being exposed to very literalist interpretations of the Koran. These are interpretations that would not be recognised by

80 or 90 per cent of Muslims, but they are being taught in this school.

“A lot of people in the Muslim community are very concerned about this. We need to urgently re-examine the kind of material that is being taught here and in other colleges in Britain.”

Mohammed Saeed Bahmanpour, who teaches in both the Hawza and the ICAS, confirmed that al-Hilli text was used, but denied that it was taught as doctrine. He said that, although the book was a key work in the jurisprudence class, its prescriptions were not taught as law. When he taught from it, he omitted the impurity chapter, he said.

Dr Bahmanpour said: “We just read the text and translate for them, but as I said I do not deal with the book on purity. We have left that to the discretion of the teacher whether he wants to teach it or not.

“The idea is not to teach them jurisprudence because most of the fatwas of Muhaqiq are not actually conforming with the fatwa of our modern jurists. The idea is that they would be able to read classical texts and that is all.”

Dr Bahmanpour said that Mr Moezi had no educational role at either the ICAS or Hawza Ilmiyya. Mr Moezi has been the representative in Britain of Ayatollah Khamenei since 2004 when he also succeeded Mr Araki in the role and as a trustee of the ICEL and the Irshad Trust.

The Islamic centre’s website reports Ayatollah Khamenei’s speeches and activities prominently and one of the first sites listed under its links section is the supreme leader’s homepage.

A spokeswoman for the ICEL also confirmed its links with the Iran’s spiritual leadership but said the centre was a purely religious organisation.

Middlesex University, which accredits the ICAS course but not the Hawza Ilmiyya, said: “The BA in Islamic studies offered by the Islamic College of Advanced Studies is validated by Middlesex University.

“This means that Middlesex ensures that the academic standards of this particular programme are appropriate, the curriculum delivers to the required standards, learning and teaching methods allow achievement of standards.”


‘The water left over in the container after any type of animal has drunk from it is considered clean and pure apart from the left over of a dog, a pig, and a disbeliever’

‘There are ten types of filth and impurities: urine, faeces, semen, carrion, blood of carrion, dogs, pigs, disbelievers’

‘When a dog, a pig, or a disbeliever touches or comes in contact with the clothes or body [of a Muslim] while he [the disbeliever] is wet, it becomes obligatory- compulsory upon him [the Muslim] to wash and clean that part which came in contact with the disbeliever’


The Islamic school that played host to Hamza

The jailed cleric attended camps in the grounds of an Islamic school in East Sussex searched by police in the wake of Friday night's terror arrests

Jamie Doward, Nick Greenslade and Antony Barnett
Sunday September 3, 2006
The Observer

For years people living near the former 100-room convent in the quiet village of Mark Cross in East Sussex have wondered what goes on behind the walls of the strange, Gothic building that was falling into disrepair.

Since 1992 it has been owned by a Muslim charity, Jameah Islamiyah, which in 2003 turned part of the building into an independent Muslim school for boys that did little to integrate itself with the villagers. Amid the secrecy, wild stories among the residents of the area quickly spread, stories likely to become ever more febrile following police searches at the school that began at 6am yesterday and came in the wake of a series of terror raids late on Friday night that resulted in 14 arrests in London.

Sam Hardy, 26, an assistant manager at the nearby Mark Cross Inn, said: 'There have always been rumours about extremism at the school in the village and when I heard about the police operation on the radio this morning I put two and two together.'

A recent report by Ofsted inspectors sheds little light on the school, which is set within 54 acres of countryside. They found it had only nine pupils and that it was lacking in a number of areas. 'Jameah Islamiyah School does not provide a satisfactory education for its pupils,' the report stated. 'It has not made sufficient progress towards fulfilling its aims since it was established ... The curriculum is not broad and balanced.'

According to its deeds, filed with the Charity Commission, the school's aim is to train students in higher Islamic studies and to spread the Islamic faith. Yesterday police stressed that there had been no arrests at the school and that those who ran it had been fully cooperative with the investigation.

But it is clear the school's grounds have been on the intelligence services' radar for years. Buried in the pages of testimonies given by al-Qaeda suspects held at Guantanamo Bay are references to terror training camps held within the school's grounds between 1997 and 1998. The camps were advertised at Finsbury Park mosque and attended by Abu Hamza, the radical imam who was jailed for seven years earlier this year for incitement to murder.

Last week the school's imam, Bilal Patel, confirmed Hamza had been a visitor to the site, which also provides 'accommodation for singles wishing to live in a strict Islamic environment at a nominal fee'. 'When [Hamza] arrived we were immediately concerned about his strange behaviour,' Patel said. 'He and his followers set up camp in the grounds and they kept themselves to themselves. We had no idea what they were doing, but we were not happy about it.'

According to the Guantanamo testimonies, which have been read to The Observer, groups of around 30 of Hamza's followers were taught to use AK47 rifles and handguns at the camp. On one occasion they were trained to use a mock rocket launcher.

The testimonies also detail how Hamza ran similar training camps in the Brecon Beacons and in Scotland. In addition to weapons training, followers, usually young Muslim men, attended debates on jihad and met for prayers. Police and intelligence services have become increasingly worried about the prevalence of such camps in recent months. Earlier this year Colin Cramphorn, chief constable of West Yorkshire, said he was aware of camps in the Yorkshire Dales, the Western Highlands and the Lakes. 'They're actually pure indoctrination camps,' Cramphorn said in comments that were later clarified. 'He was not talking about camps as physical locations,' a spokesman for the Yorkshire force said. Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer were photographed attending a rafting trip in Bala in north Wales with a number of other young men shortly before they carried out the 7 July London bombings.

It is not just the remote parts of Britain that are becoming training grounds for home-grown terrorists. A US indictment filed in 2004 accused Hamza of attempting to set up a terror training camp in Oregon between 1999 and 2000 to 'fight jihad' in Afghanistan. The cleric will be extradited to the US after he has served his UK prison term for inciting murder and race hate.

Many of those attending the camps are thought to belong to radical Muslim societies based on university campuses. Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker who was jailed in the US for his membership of the terror cell that carried out the 9/11 atrocities, attended London's South Bank University. Three of those who were arrested yesterday were dining at a Chinese restaurant popular with students from the university. It is thought several students from the university made regular trips to Jameah Islamiyah to carry out renovations on the decrepit building as part of a group bonding exercise.