A Saudi newspaper has published an article detailing how a prominent North London mosque was taken over by the U.K Muslim Brotherhood. The article in Asharq Al-Awsat begins:
London, Asharq Al-Awsat—A huge crashing sound rings out across the cold North London night as a 50-pound battering ram smashes open the sturdy mosque doors. Armed police, wearing special slip-on covers over their boots, silently enter the notorious Finsbury Park Mosque. One group heads right towards the ablution area, another up the stairs towards the offices and prayer area. The year is 2003, and the mosque is led by the hook-handed hatemonger Abu Hamza Al-Masri. It is infamous for being a ‘suicide factory’—a term coined by two Times journalists in a well-known book—churning out a veritable all-star list of dangerous extremists and terrorists. Ten years later and the police are back, but this time as part of a community outreach program to tackle hate crimes and anti-social behavior in the local area. In fact, not only are senior members of the local police force attending this open conference at the mosque, but local MP Jeremy Corbyn is delivering the opening speech. The current trustees work under the umbrella of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and took control of Finsbury Park Mosque in 2005, two years after the police raid and one year after former Imam Abu Hamza was arrested on terrorism charges. MAB was founded in 1997 by a number of prominent Britain-based Muslims, including well-known Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated figures like Kamal El-Helbawy and Walid Saffour. The organization was initially heavily involved in the British protest movement, including the Stop the War Coalition and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The group is currently led by Omer El-Hamdoon. Since the MAB takeover, Finsbury Park Mosque has experienced an unexpected turnaround. Speaking from his sparse office, the mosque’s chairman, Mohamed Kozbar, told Asharq Al-Awsat: ‘In 2005, we [the MAB]were approached by the council, the police, the MPs and the charity commission to try to help sort out the problems at the mosque. After intensive discussions, we decided to go ahead [with the takeover]because we thought that it would be beneficial for both the Muslim community and the wider community. We were aware that a lot of problems were happening here, and we thought that it was our duty to help sort this out.
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A post from reported on complaints by trustees of the Finsbury mosque that their signatures were forged on mosque legal documents.
The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) had for many years been the most active organization in the U.K Muslim Brotherhood. Many of the leaders of the MAB left in 2007 to form a new organization known as the British Muslim Initiative (BMI). According to sources in the U.K, the breakup appeared to be the result of a conflict between traditionalists in the MAB who were unhappy with the high level of involvement in U.K left-wing politics while those who who formed the BMI wished such activity to continue. Prior to the split, the MAB often joined in coalitions with far-left U.K groups such as the Stop the War Coalition and the Respect Party. The MAB is still part of the European Muslim Brotherhood umbrella group known as the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) as well as the U.K. umbrella group the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), also dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. After a period in which the MAB appeared to be moribund and only active in Scotland, the web site was reactivated in February 2008 and announced one month later that Ahmed Al-Rawi had been chosen as the new MAB President. Al-Rawi himself had been the long-time president of FIOE and was replaced sometime following the assassination of his brother in Iraq. Sometime in 2009, Ahmad Belhaj replaced Al-Rawi as MAB President.