UK media is reporting on claims by the Finsbury Mosque leadership that it was unaware that Mosque Trustee Mohammed Sawalha had been appointed to the Hamas political bureau. According to a report in the Independent:
Finsbury Park Mosque says it was unaware that one of its trustees has been appointed to Hamas’ political bureau.
Representatives of the institution told The Independent it has no relationship with the Islamist Palestinian political party following a high-profile trip to Russia by representatives including Mohammed Sawalha.
Hamas named him alongside senior members in coverage of the visit, dealing a blow to the mosque’s efforts to dispel its former reputation as a hub for al-Qaeda supporters and extremist preachers including Abu Hamza.
Mr Sawalha, who is one of Finsbury Park Mosque’s six trustees, was identified as part of Hamas’ political bureau in coverage of the ‘fruitful’ visit to Moscow.
He was among senior members of the organisation to meet Vladimir Putin’s Middle East envoy Mikhail Bogdanov.
Hamas released photos of the three-hour meeting in September, where it said delegates discussed its reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority and alleged Israeli abuses against Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement following the engagement saying it welcomed a ‘moderate’ political programme announced by Hamas earlier this year, which accepted a proposed Palestinian state within 1967 borders.”
Since June 2007, in one of our first posts, the GMBDW has been reporting on Muhammad Sawalha and his role as a Hamas leader living in the UK. Notable examples of that reporting include:
- A July 2008 post reporting on anti-Semitic comments reportedly made by Sawalha during an Arabic language interview on Al Jazeera.
- A February 2009 post reporting on Sawalha signing a statement resulting from a weekend meeting in Istanbul where religious scholars and clerics met with senior Hamas officials to plan a “third Jihadist front” centered on Gaza.
- A May 2010 post reporting on Sawalha’s leadership role in a key organization behind the June 2010 Gaza flotilla involved in a violent altercation with Israel naval forces.
- A July 2012 post reporting on a meeting in Gaza that included Sawalha as well as UK anti-Israel activists, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and the chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque.
- A February 2017 GMBRC report identifying Sawalha as a founder of the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign (GAAC), a Salafi-led international umbrella organization that brings under its wings Salafi , Salafi-Jihadi, Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas leaders including US/EU-designated terrorists.
In addition, the GMBDW has reported on Sawalha’s role as a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), headed by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, and his leadership of the British Muslim Initiative (BMI), a now defunct part of the UK Muslim Brotherhood and formerly co-headed by UK Muslim Brotherhood leader Anas Altikriti.
The Finsbury Mosque leadership has denied any knowledge of Mr. Sawalha’s role in Hamas stating “the Mosque has never felt the need to research Mr Sawalha’s personal life nor to investigate his political views or standpoints. If so, the perceived lack of need is more than likely related to the fact that the mosque is controlled by the UK Muslim Brotherhood with its own intimate relationship to Hamas. A well-known UK blogger has published a set of pictures illustrating that relationship, showing multiple meetings between the Finsbury Mosque leadership and Hamas leaders in Gaza.