EMA: time to stop whingeing, kids

Yesterday’s Guardian had a story about the latest group of people to have their freebies taken away by the evil Tories – in this case sixth-formers claiming the education maintenance allowance (up to £30 a week) at the Brooke House, sorry “BSix” sixth-form college in Hackney, east London. Yes, that really is what the college officially calls itself.

Sadly, what was intended as a heart-rending tale of brutal hardship in fact demonstrated why this particular benefit – which is received by almost half of all UK sixth-formers –  is so often unnecessary. Three students were interviewed. James Adams, from London Fields, claimed to “spend most of it on travel.” This is surprising, and I wonder how he manages it.

The usual way to travel from James’s home in London Fields to the college, which is at the Clapton roundabout, is by bus, a journey of less than two miles and about ten minutes. And all sixth-formers in London get free bus travel. (God forbid, a healthy young person could even walk – it would take less than half an hour – or cycle.) Perhaps James is using his EMA to travel by taxi, or saving it up for an entirely different kind of travel. Ryanair has some good deals on student stag weekends, I’m told.

A second student, Helen Kassarate, also said she used her EMA to pay for, among other things, her travel and her glasses, describing it as “a necessity.” We aren’t told where Helen lives, but I dare say her journey is a bus ride, too (no tubes in Hackney) and will also be free. And sixth-formers who need glasses also get those paid for on the NHS. So much for this “necessity.”

The idea of EMA was to persuade teenagers to stay in full-time education. But as the Department of Education’s own research shows (page 11 of PDF), only 12 per cent of recipients said it made any difference to their decision (other research found the figure was just 6 per cent.) It is described as a benefit for the children of low-income families; but in fact, you can get EMA if your household income is as high as £30,800 a year, about £9,000 above the UK average.

Participation of 16-18-year-olds in full-time education did rise after EMA’s national rollout six years ago, but quite slowly for the first three years (from 57.9% of the age group in 2004 to 62.8% in 2007.) In the most recent two years for which there are figures, participation jumped at a faster rate, to 68% by 2009. But that was almost certainly driven more by the meltdown of the economy – and the consequent lack of jobs and apprenticeships for teenagers – than by government bribes. That lack continues, making it quite unlikely that we will see the mass college drop-outs predicted by some EMA supporters.

EMA is a classic Labour policy – an invented entitlement that not many people actually asked for and not many people actually needed, now defended with as much fervour and fury as if it were a decades-old pillar of the Welfare State like free medical care or old-age pensions.

I don’t object in principle to bribing kids to go to college – it’s a lot cheaper than some of the alternatives. But it seems to me that we can target our bribes on a much smaller number of teenagers without any noticeable reduction in effect.


Boris Johnson: get a grit


At about 2pm yesterday afternoon the Mayor tweeted: “Vast amount of snow but tube and buses coping well. London open for Christmas shopping.”

Five hours later, this was the picture on the TfL service status page (the sections of line on the map were those with problems):


If we are, as predicted, in for a hard winter, the meltdown of the transport network whenever there is more than a flake of snow will do huge damage to London’s economy. Another interesting thing, though, is that several of the delays weren’t snow-related, but due to signal failures, train breakdowns and the like.

Transport for London is the most generously-funded operator in Britain, by a massive margin. A substantial proportion of its network is protected from snow by being underground (including about 95% of the Circle Line, which nonetheless still manages to suffer “severe delays.”) When is Boris going to get a grip on this bloated behemoth?

Muslim Aid: Hopeless Charity Commission whitewashes yet another Islamist group

The Charity Commission, Britain’s most ineffective regulator, has once again whitewashed an organisation linked to fundamentalist Islam.

In March this newspaper reported on allegations that the charity Muslim Aid, a close associate of the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe, had channelled funds to eight organisations linked to the terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Muslim Aid has admitted funding two of the organisations and has repeatedly refused to deny funding the other six.

Now, however, the Commission has published what it is pleased to call a “regulatory case review” into the charity saying that allegations of terrorist links are “unsubstantiated.”

It has only been able to reach this verdict by completely ignoring the vast majority of the allegations made against Muslim Aid, and by redefining the single allegation it did choose to “investigate” in a way which allowed it to exonerate the charity. By its own admission, it did not even investigate seven out of the eight allegations which it now claims are “unsubstantiated.”

The allegations made against Muslim Aid were as follows:

(1) that it had since July 2009 channelled money to six organisations linked to Hamas:

(a)  the Islamic Society of Nuseirat;

(b)  the Islamic Society of Khan Younis;

(c)   the Islamic Centre of Gaza;

(d)  the Islamic al-Salah, Gaza;

(e)  the National Association of Moderation and Development;

(f)    the Khan Younis Zakat Committee.

The allegations were made by security sources, who provided us with documentary evidence of the dates and amounts.

(2) that it in the year 2005 paid money to another Hamas-linked organisation, the Islamic University of Gaza.

(3) that it had paid money to the al-Ihsan Charitable Society, linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

(4) that it had extensively funded the Muslim Council of Britain, a UK-based political lobbying group. This is contrary to Muslim Aid’s declared charitable objects, which are “to relieve the poor, the elderly, children and all those who are in need in any part of the world as a result of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, droughts, famines, epidemics, poverty and plagues, to relieve those who are refugees fleeing from war zones and war victims.”

Repeatedly asked by us before publication, over a period of more than a week, Muslim Aid refused to deny the security source allegations that they channelled funds to any of groups 1 (a) to 1 (f). Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has Muslim Aid subsequently denied these allegations. It has admitted both to us and the Charity Commission – see paragraph 14 of the Commission’s report – that it did fund al-Ihsan. It has admitted, and its own accounts state, that it funded the Islamic University of Gaza and the MCB.

In its report today, the Charity Commission states that it decided only to investigate Muslim Aid’s links with one of the groups, al-Ihsan. The report states that the Commission was “not provided with sufficient evidence to support the allegation that [the] other named organisations [1 (a) to (f) and 2 above] funded by the Charity had the alleged links [to terrorism].” Consquently, it “did not carry out further investigations into payments to them. Given the seriousness of the allegations made, the Commission required material evidence in support of those claims in order for it to consider taking regulatory action.”

The Charity Commission’s statement that it was not provided with “material evidence” of the groups’ terrorist links is simply not true. Mindful of the extreme litigiousness of Islamist groups, we naturally conducted extensive pre-publication research on the links between the eight groups in 1,2 and 3 above and Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Our evidence, which runs to pages and pages, is shown at the end of this post. See whether you are convinced by it. I gave all this evidence to the Charity Commission (not that it ever asked me for it, by the way; indeed, I only learned that a regulatory case review had been opened into Muslim Aid by chance.)

In a letter to me, the Charity Commission’s head of compliance investigation, Iain Hewitt, dismissed the evidence I provided on the grounds that it was “media articles” and “journalistic reporting” (by such well-known purveyors of tabloid sensation as the BBC and the New York Times.) In the world outside the Charity Commission offices, media articles and journalistic reporting are how many abuses get exposed.

But as you can see in full at the end of this post, most of the evidence is not in fact media articles. It is official statements by the US Government, the Israeli government and the suspect organisations and their personnel themselves. It is official documents, websites and videos from the suspect organisations themselves. There are even a couple of YouTube videos of one of the organisations running a “terrorist kindergarten” with pre-school children waving Kalashnikovs. In his letter to me, Mr Hewitt gets round this little difficulty by saying that, well, all that is overseas or involving foreigh governments and it really doesn’t count.

The Charity Commission was unable to tell me tonight what actual investigations of its own it had done to determine that the allegations against Muslim Aid were “unsubstantiated.” Its report merely says that it “carried out a books and records inspection” and “checked a random sample of the charity’s partners against the list of proscribed organisations.” Muslim Aid must have been shivering in its shoes!

The Charity Commission’s behaviour is in direct breach of its own declared  counterterrorism strategy which states (my italics) that any “connections to proscribed organisations” are a “zero-tolerance issue” for the Commission. Its operational guidance note on charities and terrorism, OG96, states that “any links between a charity and terrorist activity are totally unacceptable. ‘Links’ in this case might include fundraising or provision of facilities, but also includes formal or informal links to organisations ‘proscribed’ under the Terrorism Act 2000 and any subsequent secondary legislation.”

Hamas has been proscribed, in its entirety, since 2003. Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been proscribed since March 2001. Therefore all the alleged donations we described – which again, I stress, Muslim Aid has either confirmed or has not denied – constitute “connections to proscribed organisations” and “formal or informal links to proscribed organisations.” As such, they should clearly be treated by the Commission, according to its own declared policy, as “totally unacceptable.” (The donations to the MCB are separate from this, of course.)

Muslim Aid states that it did not pay money to al-Ihsan after it was designated, in its own right, as a terrorist organisation in May/ June 2005. This claim is the slender thread on which the Charity Commission felt able to give MA the all-clear on the al-Ihsan issue. However, by its own admission, Muslim Aid did pay money to al-Ihsan in 2002 and 2003. At that time, al-Ihsan was already well known as having formal links to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, then as now a designated terrorist organisation. In December 2001, al-Ihsan was actually closed down by the Palestinian Authority (in the territories it controlled) for precisely that reason. (See the evidence below.)

The link between al-Ihsan and PIJ clearly brings Muslim Aid’s 2002/ 3 payments to al-Ihsan within the scope of the Charity Commission’s “zero-tolerance” anti-terrorism policy. The links between the other seven charities and Hamas also clearly brings Muslim Aid’s payments to them within the scope of its policy.

As well as ignoring all the specific security source allegations about Hamas charities, the Commission has also ignored the extensive general evidence about Muslim Aid’s alleged links to Hamas, which is widely available in the public domain but some of which is also set out below. Does it not, for instance, ring any alarm bells at all that Muslim Aid is banned in Israel and is named by that country as a member of the Hamas funding network, the Union of Good?

Finally, the Charity Commission’s report has also ignored the specific allegation made that Muslim Aid has acted in breach of its charitable objects by funding the Muslim Council of Britain.

This is the second time in a year that the Commission has deliberately ignored allegations made against a body linked to Islamic extremism in order to whitewash it. Earlier this year, it played the same trick in its report into the Islamic Shaksiyah Foundation, a group run by supporters of the racist, extremist sect Hizb ut Tahrir.

One starts to wonder what is the point of this organisation. Maybe it is time to decommission the Charity Commission.


(1a), (1b) Islamic Society (aka Islamic Association)

The Islamic Society is perhaps the most important Hamas civil society front. It is pan-Gaza – we named the Nuseirat and Khan Younis branches.

The Nuseirat branch website is http://www.islamso.org/en/index.php

The logo on the website describes it (in English) as “Islamic Society,” the header on the website says “Islamic Association – Nusairat.” ‘Society’ and ‘association’ are the same words in Arabic.

The Islamic Society was closed down in December 2001 (when Fatah still controlled Gaza) as part of a Palestinian Authority crackdown on Hamas-linked organisations – the same crackdown that closed down al-Ihsan. See extract from BBC Monitoring report below:


January 1, 2002

Palestinian authority closes down Islamic institutions, societies, newspapers

LENGTH: 925 words

Text of exclusive report by an unidentified correspondent in Gaza, carried by pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Centre web site on 30 December

Gaza – The shutting down of Palestinian institutions by the Oslo police, affiliated with the limited administrative self-rule authority, has harmed tens of Palestinian families, who used to get their daily bread from these institutions. The Palestinian police forces launched a large-scale campaign on 15 and 18 December, closing a number of Hamas Islamic Resistance Movement and Islamic Jihad-backed institutions and societies, as well as some independent institutions in many parts of the Palestinian areas.

Following is the background of these institutions:

A. The Hamas-backed societies:

1. The Islamic Society: The society was founded in 1976 under a license from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs, which both used to oversee the society’s missions, including financial aid to the needy and the poor. The society’s headquarters is located in the city of Gaza and has nine branches in the Gaza area. The society extends aid to 5,000 orphans, each receiving 120 shekels per month, and non-periodical aid to approximately 50,000 needy families. It also distributes school bags to 3,000 needy students at the beginning of each school year and extends 200 shekel to each family of about 500 poor families in financial aid per month. The society has 41 kindergartens embracing 6,000 children, as well as two health centres in the Shaykh Radwan and Al-Nusayrat camp treating the sick either at symbolic prices or free of charge.

The society has 300 male and female employees…..”

With Hamas’s growing strength in Gaza, the Islamic Society reopened after a relatively short period.

The Islamic Society was named as “part of Hamas’ social infrastructure” and as an “unindicted co-conspirator” by federal prosecutors in the trial of US v Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (charged 2006, convicted 2008 of financing Hamas; directors given life imprisonment 2009). See


Papers documenting funds transfers between the Holy Land Foundation and the Islamic Society were produced at the trial.



The papers make clear that there is an all-Gaza HQ and branches.

The Islamic Society sent an angry fax to CBS News protesting about their reporting on the HLF (“When you accuse them, you accuse us”): http://counterterrorismblog.org/site-resources/images/cbs.pdf

You will notice that this time the header is “Islamic Society” and the logo is “Islamic Association.” Ahmed Bahar, the head of the Islamic Society, who signed this fax, is now a Hamas MP.

USAID, the US international development agency, was refused US government clearance to work with the Islamic Society because of “concerns re institution,” according to evidence produced at the trial. http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/FeaturedDocs/USAID_vettingrequests.pdf

(This document is also a useful demonstration that there are plenty of legit local NGOs in Gaza that Muslim Aid could have worked with.)

A video of an Islamic Society “terrorist kindergarten,” with uniformed pre-school children dressed as Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin and as suicide bombers, waving guns around, etc, was produced at the HLF trial – it is on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4VHTyWwNf8

Although the picture quality is not good enough to be absolutely sure, the logo below the platform does look like the one on the current Islamic Soc of Nuseirat website.

In another YouTube video of another “terrorist kindergarten,” the presenter introduces it as from the “Islamic Association.” See one of the videos on http://hurryupharry.org/2009/08/16/islamic-help-aiding-hamas/ .

In 1993 the Islamic Society’s then head, Sheikh Hassan Deib, was asked if Hamas would give up its arms to the Palestinian police. He replied: “The military option is the only way to liberate the rest of Palestine. The struggle between us and the Jews is eternal . . . I expect Arafat [head of rival Fatah faction] to try to suppress us. If that happens, we’ll have to resist.” (Boston Globe 5.9.93.)

The following 2006 report from (US) National Public Radio provides a good general account of the Islamic Society/ Islamic Association’s activities and Hamas’s civil society network (it also mentions the Islamic University of Gaza.)

“National Public Radio (NPR)

February 14, 2006 Tuesday

SHOW: All Things Considered 8:00 PM EST

Palestinians Embrace Hamas as Legitimate Power



LENGTH: 1427 words


We’re going to learn more now about the Islamist Hamas movement and what led to its unexpected election victory. The U.S. and the European Union have labeled Hamas a terrorist organization. It has carried out more than 60 suicide bombings in Israel since 2000. But in the West Bank and Gaza, many Palestinians see Hamas as a legitimate force combating Israeli occupation, and they see the charities backed by Hamas as models of clean and efficient government. Here’s NPR’s Eric Westervelt.

(Soundbite of crowd of Palestinian women)


A crowd of some 50 Palestinian women, their heads wrapped in scarves, queue up on a cold morning outside a basement door at the Islamic Association of Gaza. These women, all widows or from needy families, are lined up to get one big plastic bottle of olive oil for free. Sadia Marad’s (ph) husband is disabled. She cares for three kids at home. Marad says she’s not sure what she’d do without the regular handouts of food, blankets, school supplies and clothes she receives from the Association.

Ms. SADIA MARAD (Palestinian resident): (Through translator) I depend on this. It’s very important. It helps me feed and educate my children and improve their lives. All thanks are to God.

WESTERVELT: Thanks also to Hamas. In the West, Hamas is better known for deadly suicide bombings and violent rhetoric. In the Palestinian territories, Hamas’s popularity is built and sustained in large part on its network of charities, schools and social service centers. After years helping to provide everything from eyeglasses to clean water, Hamas rode its promise of clean government to political power. In Gaza and the West Bank, where a weak and bankrupt Palestinian Authority struggles, charities like this have become the main safety net for the dispossessed.

Mr. ABDUL QADIR ATAR (ph) (Islamic Association): (Through translator) When there’s no strong authority or state, like here in Gaza, we take on those responsibilities.

WESTERVELT: Abdul Qadir Atar is director of the Islamic Association, which runs a massive charitable network across Gaza. He says with an annual budget of $2 million, his association helps some 50,000 Gaza families a year. It gives out food, medicine, even pays for summer camps and collective weddings for impoverished couples. Hamas has seen its aid work complicated by antiterrorist funding legislation in the U.S. and elsewhere. Many of these laws were strengthened after 9/11 amid evidence some charities were fronts for or were funneling money to terrorists.

Mr. ATAR: (Through translator) The U.S. and Europe have prevented donors from transferring money to some Islamic charities, saying these groups are connected to terrorism. Is it terrorism to provide a poor family with clothes, food and blankets? Is this terrorism?

WESTERVELT: Hamas tries to keep a legal wall between the movement and its charities. There are no Hamas emblems or signs here. Our charity supports all Palestinians, Director Atar is quick to say. But everyone in Gaza and the West Bank knows which charities are backed by Hamas. Atar’s boss, Dr. Ahmed Bahar (ph), was chairman of the Islamic Association until a few days ago. He stepped down after winning a Hamas seat in parliament….

In addition to its charitable networks, Hamas’s education programs have played a central, yet often overlooked, role in the group’s ascendancy. This is one of 43 kindergartens Hamas supports and runs across Gaza. Kids practice counting in a tidy room decorated with pictures of animals and letters. Many impoverished Palestinians can go from kindergarten to college, all subsidized by Hamas.

Some Israelis and terrorism experts say these Hamas schools often indoctrinate kids from the earliest age to hate Israelis and revere martyrdom and killing Jews. At Gaza’s Islamic University, founded by Hamas, study of the Koran is mandatory. Male and female teaching and study areas are strictly separated by a series of gates and walls.

(Soundbite of Hamas rally)

On a recent day, thousands of young men packed the University’s main courtyard. It’s a victory rally for these Islamist students who played a key role in Hamas’s electoral landslide. Several of Hamas’s current leaders came from the ranks of student activists here. Many of the University’s professors, the Dean of Students, and other key school officials, are all Hamas members….”

(1c) Islamic Centre of Gaza

It was created by the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in 1973 as a precursor of Hamas and remains strongly allied to it. Was one of the first outposts of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Palestinian territories.

It also featured in the 2006-8 Holy Land Foundation trial as a recipient of funds. Also named by federal prosecutors in the case as “part of Hamas’ social infrastructure” and an “unindicted co-conspirator” (see weblinks above.)

It was condemned by the US attorney-general as a Hamas organisation as early as 2004.

It was banned by Israel as an “unlawful association” on 25 Feb 2002. http://www.justice.gov.il/NR/rdonlyres/E217D77E-7ECD-4B75-88B6-4F91D0D39461/0/listofdeclarations1.doc

(1d) Islamic al-Salah (aka al-Salah Society)

It is described by the US government as “one of the largest and best-funded Hamas charitable organizations in the Palestinian territories” and a “key support node for Hamas.”

It was designated by US as a sponsor of terrorism on 7 August 2007, ie before Muslim Aid allegedly donated. See http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/hp531.aspx which also lists its various names.

(1e) National Association of Moderation & Development

It is a semi-official body linked to the Hamas administration in Gaza (its president, Munir Perch, is a senior official in the health ministry) and which does various joint activities with the administration and the Islamic University of Gaza. Among these, according to its 2007 annual report, are events called “Meet the masses” at which members of the Hamas leadership meet the public.


It was banned by Israel 25.10.09 as an “unlawful association” for its links with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.


The frontpage of NAMD’s website has a banner for CBSP, a French charity banned by the US and Australia as a funding front for Hamas. http://www.namd-pal.org/

NAMD’s website (in the “news” section) mentions Muslim Aid – http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&sl=ar&u=http://www.namd-pal.org/&ei=QLoWTMKHBIX20gTu8ZnECw&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBUQ7gEwAw&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522national%2Bassociation%2Bof%2Bmoderation%2B%2526%2Bdevelopment%2522%26hl%3Den

A Wall Street Journal investigation in 2007 implicated NAMD in what is called “trade-based money-laundering” for al-Ihsan/ Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

Briefly, CBSP provided money for NAMD and a trader called Fayez Abu Aker to buy relief supplies. Some supplies were bought with the money, but it is alleged that the profit from the deals was passed to Hamas and al-Ihsan. Some of the deals were also allegedly financed by a Hamas-supporting Iranian group called the Organisation for Supporting the Intifada.

Abu Aker and his companies are now banned in Israel as “unlawful associations.” Western companies (including British ones) which have arranged deals with him have cancelled after being warned off by the authorities, the WSJ investigation found.

(1f) Zakat Committee of Khan Younis

It was banned by Israel as an “unlawful association” on 25 Feb 2002


(it is shown as “the charity and grace committee- Han Yunes.” Zakat means charity in Arabic.)

It also came up in the HLF trial in 2006-8. http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/FeaturedDocs/ShukriTripSummary1991_trial2.pdf

It was one of a number of organisations whose bank accounts were confiscated by Israel “as part of the struggle against financing terrorism,” specifically Hamas. See last page of the following.


(2) Islamic University of Gaza

Muslim Aid has paid at least £325,000 to the IUG. The university, created in 1978 by the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, is the main training ground for future Hamas leaders and dozens of its current leaders also teach, or have taught, there.

“A stronghold of the radical Hamas group.”  (New York Times)

“A key training ground for the movement’s leadership.” (Washington Post)

“The overlap of [Hamas] and the school [university] is nearly seamless. Scientists and academics at the university double as Hamas technocrats: doctors, engineers, economists, teachers, and media specialists. The Islamic University serves as an employment program and intellectual retreat for Hamas leaders, giving a perch to the prime minister, the foreign minister, and bureaucrats in charge of ministries.” (Boston Globe)

“Openly controlled by Hamas leaders. Sheikh Yassin and former Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantisi used Islamic University as a base, as has Ismail Haniya, prime minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian government and a member of the school board of trustees.

“To give a feel for the political climate on the campus of this institution, 78 percent of the student council vote went to Hamas.” (Rep Tom Lantos, when chair of the US House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committee)

The university is another one of the institutions to have had its bank accounts confiscated by Israel for alleged links to terrorism. See last page of the PDF  http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/ENGLISH/MARKETING%20TERRORISM/PDF/JULY_12_04.PDF

Its rector of advanced studies, Dr Ahmad Abu Halabiyah, has been quoted as saying that Jews should be “butchered.” ( Friday sermon, PA TV, 13 October 2000.)

(3) Al-Ihsan (aka Elehssan, al-Ahsan)

Muslim Aid admits to funding al-Ihsan in 2002 and 2003. By this time it was already universally known as a front for (Palestinian) Islamic Jihad, which has been conducting terrorist attacks since the late 1980s.

Al-Ihsan was “de-registered” – in fact closed down – as a PIJ front by the Palestinian National Authority as early as December 2001, well before Muslim Aid donated to it. See the following:

“Los Angeles Times

December 14, 2001 Friday
Home Edition

Islamic Groups Hasten to Save Assets;
Aid: Faced with being shut down, Palestinian charities rush to clear their offices.


SECTION: PART A; Part 1; Foreign Desk; Pg. 30

LENGTH: 986 words


The morning after the Palestinian Authority announced that it would shut down offices associated with Islamic militant groups, employees of the Elehssan Society rushed to work to cart away anything of value.

“The last time the sulta [Palestinian Authority] shut down Islamic offices, they kicked in the doors, confiscated everything, and we never got it back,” Mohammed Afifi said Thursday. The 27-year-old computer programmer volunteers at Elehssan, a charitable organization run by Islamic Jihad. “We’re not taking chances this time,” he said….”


January 1, 2002

Palestinian authority closes down Islamic institutions, societies, newspapers

LENGTH: 925 words

Text of exclusive report by an unidentified correspondent in Gaza, carried by pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Centre web site on 30 December

Gaza – The shutting down of Palestinian institutions by the Oslo police, affiliated with the limited administrative self-rule authority, has harmed tens of Palestinian families, who used to get their daily bread from these institutions. The Palestinian police forces launched a large-scale campaign on 15 and 18 December, closing a number of Hamas Islamic Resistance Movement and Islamic Jihad-backed institutions and societies, as well as some independent institutions in many parts of the Palestinian areas.

Following is the background of these institutions:…

B. The Islamic Jihad-backed institutions: ….

3. The Al-Ihsan charity Charity Society: It was established in 1997. It provides financial and in-kind aid to the poor and the needy and runs a number of kindergartens. It maintains its main headquarters in the city of Gaza and has six branches in the Gaza area….

Source: Palestinian Information Centre web site in Arabic 30 Dec 01″

Al-Ihsan went underground in the West Bank and has resumed open operation in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

There are various references to al-Ihsan as a front for Palestinian Islamic Jihad during 2003 and 2004 (eg Washington Times 13.12.03,  Associated Press 26.2.04,  Agence France-Presse 19.5.04.)

According to Israel, a large part of al-Ihsan’s purpose is to support the families of suicide bombers. http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/ENGLISH/MARKETING%20TERRORISM/PDF/JULY_12_04.PDF


Union of Good/ Hamas link with Muslim Aid and its officers and trustees

The US has designated the Union of Good as a sponsor of terrorism, saying it is an “organization created by [the] Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization.” http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/hp1267.htm

Israel says that Muslim Aid is a member of the Union of Good:  http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2008/Defense+Minister+signs+order+banning+Hamas-affiliated+charitable+organizations+7-Jul-2008.htm

This has been previously reported (eg in the Times, 5 September 2008, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4678132.ece) without any complaint or correction being sought by Muslim Aid.

The current chair of Muslim Aid, Iqbal Sacranie, was a trustee of the Union of Good, see for instance http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2006/12/mcbinthedock/



Another trustee of the Union of Good was Ahmed al-Rawi, whose brother, Khadem, is a Muslim Aid executive committee member and trustee. Ahmed told the Sunday Times in 2004 that he supported attacks on British troops in Iraq: “If they (the British) attack, it’s the right of the civilians to resist the British. Any people who are occupied, they have the right to resist. I prefer it to be peaceful, but if they choose to resist by other means it’s their choice.” (31.10.04, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article501166.ece)

The charity is clearly shown as “Muslim Aid, London” on the official Israeli declaration list of “unlawful associations”: http://www.justice.gov.il/NR/rdonlyres/E217D77E-7ECD-4B75-88B6-4F91D0D39461/0/listofdeclarations1.doc

Iqbal Sacranie and Hamas

Iqbal Sacranie attended a memorial service in London for the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, after he was killed by an Israeli rocket strike. Speaking at the service, he praised Yassin as a “renowned Islamic scholar.”

He was challenged on this by John Ware in the 2005 Panorama programme on the MCB:

John Ware: It’s one thing supporting the Palestinians and it’s another, isn’t it, supporting the theological justification which Sheikh Yassin gave to the murder of civilians.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie: He may have given that –

John Ware: Well there’s no may about it, he did, he was the spiritual leader and the ideological leader of a terrorist movement.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie: In your terms, if it means fighting occupation is a terrorist movement, that is not a view that is being shared by many people. Those who fight oppression, those who fight occupation, cannot be termed as terrorist, they are freedom fighters, in the same way as Nelson Mandela fought against apartheid, in the say way as Ghandi and many others fought the British rule in India. There are people in different parts of the world who today, in terms of historical side of it, those who fought oppression are now the real leaders of the world….

John Ware: What signal does it send when the general secretary, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain goes and pays homage to someone who supports suicide bombings in Israel?

Sir Iqbal Sacranie: Well –

John Ware: Hang on, what kind of signal does that send to young Muslims in Britain?

Sir Iqbal Sacranie: If your whole question is based upon one aspect of that person’s belief in terms of supporting it, we look into the wider picture. The suicide bombing that you’re referring to is one aspect of the whole struggle.”

Full transcript here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/4171950.stm

Other links between Muslim Aid and Hamas sympathisers: IFE

Muslim Aid is closely connected to the Islamic Forum of Europe and East London Mosque (which is controlled by the IFE). All three organisations share the same premises. Muslim Aid has paid at least £550,000 to the ELM and £40,000 to the ELM’s school, the London East Academy. The IFE and ELM websites host Muslim Aid press releases. The Muslim Aid annual review 2007, p16, describes IFE as “one of Muslim Aid’s most active donor groups.” Muslim Aid has organised joint events with IFE, eg a prayer for Gaza in the East London Mosque on 17.1.09.

Mohammad Hamid Hossain Azad, a trustee and previously acting chief executive of MA, is a trustee of the IFE. Mohammed Abdul Bari, trustee of MA, is chairman of ELM and former IFE president. Chowdhury Mueenuddin,  trustee of MA, was until recently vice-chair of the ELM.

The IFE is openly pro-Hamas – for instance its community affairs co-ordinator, Azad Ali, has called for a worldwide Islamic caliphate under the leadership of Hamas and described Hamas on the IFE’s official blog (15.1.09) as a “true resistance movement that is standing up for the rights of the Palestinians.”

The editor of the IFE website, Muhammed Amin, said during the Gaza conflict in early 2009: “Hamas must not accept this gimmick of a ceasefire. Better to die as defiant human beings than live as caged animals, left to slowly wither away… Surely it is better to die a quick death at the hands of the Ziono-fascist war machine – and become Shaheed [martyr] no doubt – than die slowly and without the world knowing.”

Another IFE blogger, Abu Umar, has said on the organisation’s official blog (1.1.09): “Let us be clear, like the majority [of] people in Gaza, Hamas=Gaza and Gaza=Hamas… Hamas represents the only remaining resistance…To simply label Hamas as just ‘terrorists’ is oversimplification…If the Palestinians had fighter jets, tanks and the latest US missiles do we think there would be ‘suicide bombings?’”

The IFE has issued press releases defending Hamas, eg on 16.1.09.

Ken Livingstone loses a few thousand more votes

One of the ways in which Ken Livingstone gives us all so many hours of family entertainment is his endless attempts to blame Boris Johnson for absolutely everything – from global warming, to the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests, to (doubtless soon) the demise of Shergar.

So I couldn’t have been more thrilled to read Ken’s piece in today’s Standard, blaming last week’s student riots on – you guessed it – the mop-headed Mayor Of Evil. Did I miss something on Thursday? Was it a group led by Boris who broke away from the route agreed with the police? Was it Boris who came along to the march armed with fireworks, snooker balls and clearly intent on a ruck? Was it Boris who issued that group of “peaceful students” with identical green hard-hats and metal poles for hitting the police?

No, apparently the Mayor’s crime was not to “have pressed the different legitimate protest organisations that there should have been one, unified demonstration… to help give a clear framework to policing to help avoid a risky fracturing of the protests.”

I think this tortured syntax is Ken’s tacit admission that the organisers of Thursday’s demo fell down badly on the job, not stewarding the march properly and losing control of their troops. That can hardly be blamed on Boris, though, can it?

My running-dog thesis is that both the major events of the past week – the arrest of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange on rape allegations, and the student ruck in Parliament Square – were specially arranged by some sort of Tory deity to confuse the Left and make it look stupid.

What else are we to make of the defence of Mr Assange by feminist campaigners against rape? And what else are we to make of the quite hopeless argument that the students were only violent because the police were nasty to them?

At the first big London student demo, the Met in fact played it very softly-softly – and was rewarded with having Tory HQ smashed up. Last week, the kettling did not start until after the students started throwing things. I’ve no doubt innocent people got caught up in it – and some police behaved disgracefully. Indeed, a friend of mine, an entirely peaceful and inoffensive journalist, was beaten up by the Met.

But the fact is that huge numbers of students, not just a small minority, broke away from the route they’d agreed and went into Parliament Square. Very large numbers of those students then attempted to break through barricades around the Palace of Westminster. Faced with a mob attacking them, what were the cops supposed to do? Let them smash Parliament as well as the Treasury and the Supreme Court? Let them paint graffiti on the Commons’ green benches as well as on the Parliament Square statues?

Last Thursday, the students didn’t just lose the vote in the Commons. They lost the sympathy of a lot of middle-of-the-road people – and most importantly, they lost control of the agenda. We should be talking about the injustice of some of the cuts, and the hopeless mess the Lib Dems found themselves in. Instead, we’re talking about the violence of the students.

Ken is still not behaving like he has an election to win; his piece will no doubt delight lots of people who were already going to vote for him, but I fear it will do little for his broader appeal. His weighing in is the final sign that the cause is a lost one.

London's secret Olympic contracts: the full download

The London Olympics will be officially conducted in French (Photo: Reuters)
The London Olympics will be officially conducted in French (Photo: Reuters)

As promised yesterday, here to download from this link are the full “technical manuals” to which London signed up as part of its contract for hosting the 2012 Olympics – as I described in yesterday’s paper and in the cover story of this week’s Spectator magazine. Our Spectator piece has also been reprinted in today’s Daily Mail.

Some of the key points:

At least 40,000 hotel rooms for IOC, dignitaries and other official guests for the duration of the Games (Accommodation Manual, p33)

Queen must attend a special IOC ceremony and meet all IOC members (Manual on Organising Meetings)

Union Jack to be flown in fifth order of precedence at stadium (Protocol Manual, p13)

French must take precedence over English at Olympic ceremonies (Ceremonies Manual, p36)

“Pageantry and billboards” in French and English to be erected across London (Brand Protection Manual, p83)

Control over “commercial” logos on spectators’ clothes. Unauthorised “hats, visors and T-shirts” to be confiscated (Brand Protection Manual, pp75, 96)

Enforce “brand protection” by “conducting surveillance” (Brand Protection Manual, p95)

Require “behaviour modification” for residents’ travel (Transport Manual, p409)

And much, much more. Warning – if you’re printing out, make sure you have LOTS of paper.

London Olympics: the full horrors revealed

After a two-year tussle under the Freedom of Information Act, our friends at the excellent Games Monitor website have obtained the full, previously secret contracts signed by poor old London when it agreed to host the 2012 Olympics – the so-called “Olympic technical manuals.” I and my colleague Ed Howker have done a big chunk on it in today’s newspaper and as the cover story of this week’s Spectator magazine. There are thousands of pages of excruciatingly demanding, legally-binding but often preposterous requirements, including:

– At least 40,000 hotel rooms to be provided for the International Olympic Committee, dignitaries and other official guests for the duration of the Games (this figure does not include competitors, of course – they’re housed in the Olympic village);

– The Queen must attend a special IOC ceremony and meet all IOC members;

– Union Jack to be flown fifth in order of precedence at stadium;

– French must take precedence over English at Olympic ceremonies;

– “Pageantry and billboards” in French and English to be erected across London;

– Control over “commercial” logos on spectators’ clothes. Unauthorised “hats, visors and T-shirts” to be confiscated;

– Personal chauffeurs for 700 IOC members or officials (recommended);

– Pool chauffeurs for a further 400 IOC officials (recommended);

– Enforce “brand protection” for Olympics and its sponsors by “conducting surveillance.” Police to be diverted from preventing crime to preventing “ambush marketing” by the sponsors’ commercial rivals. Olympic officials to be given power to enter private homes and confiscate unauthorised goods;

– Enforce “behaviour modification” on Londoners’ travel (because many of London’s normal transport resources will be diverted to serve the Games);

– Four colours of photocopying paper “according to the precise instructions of the IOC.”

Still looking forward to 2012? We’ll be putting up the documents in full in the next day or so and I’ll blog again when that happens.

Great news: Islamists lose their Parliamentary foothold

Two weeks ago I reported how Islamists had established a bridgehead in Parliament. A group called Engage (or iEngage) got itself appointed as the secretariat of a new all-party parliamentary group on Islamophobia. Islamophobia is rapidly emerging as the Islamists’ favoured new front – they have taken to conflating themselves with the entire Muslim community and damning any attacks on their tiny minority reading of Islam as an “Islamophobic” assault on the whole faith.

Engage is at the heart of this process, an organisation which specialises in defending fundamentalist bodies such as the East London Mosque and the Islamic Forum of Europe and attacking all criticism of them as “Islamophobic.”

It attacked the BBC’s recent Panorama documentary on racist Muslim schools – showing that some children are being taught anti-Semitism and Sharia punishments – as a “witch-hunt.” Typically, it launched its attack before even seeing the programme. It attacked me for writing about the East London Mosque’s hosting of the terrorist preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki, in 2009 – advertised with a poster showing New York under bombardment. It peddled the straightforward lie told by the mosque that no-one had realised Awlaki was a bad egg at that stage.

It wrote to the Home Secretary to protest against the ban on the extremist preacher, Zakir Naik, who has stated that “every Muslim should be a terrorist.” It attacked the Independent columnist, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, one of the country’s major voices of moderate Islam, for her opposition to the niqab and the burka.

Today, I am delighted to say, Engage has been dropped as the secretariat to the all-party group. I understand that a number of parliamentarians on the group threatened to resign once they were made aware of its true views and links. Congratulations to the Harry’s Place blog, Conservative Home and the former MP Paul Goodman for drawing attention to the issue, and keeping up the pressure.

As we have seen with the East London Mosque, Islamists have in the past won access to power by being dishonest about their objectionable views. Today’s news is the latest evidence that now that their tactics are being exposed, and the truth about them is being told, they are being consistently pushed back.