The Times has published the second day in a series of articles on the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK conducted with the assistance of the GMBDW editor. The first of these articles reports on the Leeds Grand Mosque and its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood:
A spokesman for the Leeds Grand Mosque denied that it was influenced or run by the Muslim Brotherhood, but the converted church has long been a platform for political Islam. Firas al-Rawi is one of many men linked to the global movement to have held senior roles in its management. More than a decade ago the mosque’s imam, Muhammed Taher, was reminding worshippers of ‘the treachery of the Jews’, that Muslims worldwide were victims of a ‘vicious Zionist-Crusader’ plot to attack Islam and that the waging of ‘jihad in the path of Allah’ was lawful when resisting ‘the forces of evil’.
The passage of time does not appear to have altered Mr Taher’s perspective. A book published last year by a Turkish theology lecturer noted that his Friday sermons invariably highlighted the plight of ‘the global Muslim community’. ‘
He addresses current issues, including injustices towards Muslims in parts of the world like Palestine. More recently a number [of sermons]have been condemning the dictatorships in North Africa and the Middle East.’ When Mr al-Rawi joined the mosque’s management committee in 2004 its chairman was Zaher Birawi, a prominent Palestinian activist who is also a former director of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), described by a government minister in 2010 as ‘the Brotherhood’s representative in the UK’.
Another former mosque chairman, the late Kadhem al-Rawi, born in Iraq, was the principal of a Brotherhood-associated Islamic theology college in Wales attended by one of Lee Rigby’s killers. The college has said that ‘no extremist views have ever been put across’ to its students.
The mosque’s present chairman and treasurer, Malek al-Afandi, 62, is a former director of both MAB and a Brotherhood-linked charity, Muslim Welfare House. Among Mr al-Afandi’s fellow directors when the charity was founded in 2000 were a leading Hamas activist, Mohammad Sawalha, and Iraq-born Hassan Alkatib, a former director of the Leeds Grand Mosque, who still plays a prominent role in its leadership.”
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The article does not mention that the late Kadhem al-Rawi was actually the brother of Ahmed Al-Rawi, the head of the Europe Trust and who figured prominently in day one of the series. The second of the articles reports that the former chairman of the Leeds Grand Mosque owned a company linked to the distribution of a children’s DVD that glorified suicide bomb attacks on Israelis:
A former chairman of the best-known mosque in Leeds owned a company linked to the distribution of a children’s DVD that glorified suicide bomb attacks on Israelis.
The singalong DVD, which triggered an inquiry by counterterrorism police, features a young girl holding a stick of dynamite who vows to follow in the footsteps of her mother, shown blowing herself up after approaching soldiers at an army checkpoint.
The sole UK distributor of the Egyptian-made film was a company owned by Firas al-Rawi, a former Syrian national who served on the management committee of Leeds Grand Mosque and later became its chairman. His connection to the DVD, which led to his arrest on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred, emerged during an investigation by The Times into the Arab-dominated mosque’s extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist movement.
Local Muslims contacted the newspaper this year to claim that the mosque, near the University of Leeds, was ‘hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood against the will of the congregation’. They said that ‘extremists’ of Iraqi, Syrian and Egyptian origin, backed by the Leeds branch of the Muslim Association of Britain, formed a ‘self-appointed leadership’ that sidelined moderates and ‘any members of the community who do not belong to their party”
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We reported earlier on the first day of the series that reported on the results of a major investigation into the finances of the European Muslim Brotherhood.