Mayor gives Â£30,000 of taxpayers’ money to Muslim group led by ‘extremist’Andrew Gilligan/Evening Standard
Mayor Boris JohnsonÂ has given at least Â£30,000 of taxpayers’ money to an organisation co-controlled by an Islamist “extremist”, the Standard can reveal.
Azad Ali praises a spiritual leader ofÂ al QaedaÂ on his blog, denies theÂ MumbaiÂ attacks were “terrorism” and quotes, apparently approvingly, a statement advocating the killing of British troops inÂ Iraq.
He also criticises those Muslims who “tell people that Islam is a religion of peace”.
He describes non-Muslims as “sinners” and says Muslims should “hate [non-Muslims’] disbelieving actions”.
Mr Ali is the founding chairman, and current treasurer, of the Muslim Safety Forum, a group that has received at least Â£30,000 from City Hall since Mr Johnson’s election last May.
Government persistently validating extremismÂ
Stop pandering to these enemies of our way of lifeÂ
We must be mad to give Â£90 million to these fanaticsÂ
Labour’s policy is radicalising a whole new generation of Muslims
He is also one of the Forum’s two directors and its nominated contact for the Charity Commission.
The Forum’s website says it was set up to challenge the “unfair focus on the Muslim community when it came to policing activities and enforcement of anti-terror policing legislation”. It holds regular meetings with the police.
Mr Ali was suspended from his job as a civil servant in January after some of his views came to the attention of his employers.
However, City Hall payment lists seen by the Standard show that in the same month, his organisation received the latest of its Â£10,000 quarterly payments from the GLA.
It also received Â£10,000 in July and October last year, as well as at least Â£70,000 under the previous Mayor,Â Ken Livingstone. Its annual general meeting, in July, was addressed by Mr Johnson’s deputy mayor,Â Richard Barnes.
Mr Ali’s comments are made on his “Between the Lines” blog, hosted by the Islamic Forum Europe, a leading Islamist organisation closely associated with the radical East London Mosque. The Muslim Safety Forum is based at the mosque.
On 20 November last year, Mr Ali wrote in praise of Abdullah Azzam,Â Osama bin Laden‘s key mentor.
Mr Ali describes Azzam as one of the “few Muslims who promote the understanding of the term jihad in its comprehensive glory” as both a doctrine of “self-purification” and of “warfare”. He adds: “Abdullah Azzam promoted that balance yet today he is viewed by some as a ‘terrorist’…
“Self-censorship has taken many Muslims to the point where you can almost feel the contempt they have for jihad. We have had campaign after campaign that tells people Islam is peace…What peace does a man have when he is oppressed?”
In the same post, Mr Ali quotes Azzam’s son, Huthaifa, as saying: “If I saw an American or British man wearing a soldier’s uniform inside Iraq, I would kill him because that is my obligation… I respect this as the main instruction in my religion for jihad.” Mr Ali adds: “There are some Muslims who go out of their way to deny the full meaning and understanding of the term jihad.”
On 1 December, after the Mumbai attacks, Mr Ali engaged in repeated exchanges on his blog with a moderate Muslim calling himself “Sid”. Sid said the attacks were “an act of Islamist terrorism, pure and simple”. Mr Ali replied: “We disagree quite clearly,” describing the attacks as “crimes”.
Mr Ali’s strong views were clear several months before Mr Johnson decided to continue with his group’s City Hall funding.
In a blog post on 25 April last year, he criticised moderate Muslim writer Ziauddin Sardar for saying that non-Muslims should not be denounced as infidels.
“Some may argue that the word infidel… is a bit offensive – so what?” writes Mr Ali. “We should in general ‘hate’ the disbelieving actions of the non-Muslims but not them as a person…”
On 15 January this year, in a post onÂ GazaÂ entitled “We are the Resistance II”, Mr Ali describes Muslim moderates as “nothing but self-serving vultures, feeding on the dead flesh of the Palestinians” and attacks government policy towards “the Zionist terrorist state ofÂ Israel“.
Three days later, he was suspended from his job as a Treasury civil servant. He faces disciplinary proceedings.
A spokesman for the Mayor said: “The Mayor is very concerned to discover that taxpayers’ money has gone to this organisation.
“The commitment was made by the previous Mayor and the agreement was in place before the election. The Mayor has ensured that no further payments will be made when the outstanding agreement is concluded.”
When contacted, Mr Ali refused to discuss his views with the Standard. He asked us to email a series of questions, to which he failed to respond.
A spokesman for the MSF, Naeem Darr, said that Mr Ali’s involvement with the group was being reviewed.
He said: “We are going through a process at the moment of looking at the way the organisation is run to see if we can come to any conclusions as to what we should do in future.
“There will be some sort of hearing within the organisation on Azad Ali in the next month or so.”