On Whitechapel Road in the heart of the East End stands the East London Mosque.. . . for a small number,(of worshippers) the mosque is the headquarters of a secretive, fundamentalist political network. The Islamic Forum of Europe is dedicated, in its own words, to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam”.
The mosque and IFE are inextricably intertwined. Dr Mohammed Abdul Bari, the chairman of the mosque, and its vice-chairman are former IFE presidents.
The director and imam of the mosque are trustees of the group. Of 22 IFE trustees in recent years, only five have not also been trustees or officeholders of the religious centre.
The mosque calls the IFE a “social welfare organisation” and the IFE presents itself as committed to “community cohesion” and “tolerance”. But the undercover reporters discovered that it was also a sophisticated political group with a structured rank system and hardline goals. Prospective recruits must attend training. One undercover reporter was told that she would have to take an exam and swear an oath of allegiance and ordered to keep her membership of the IFE a secret.
This newspaper obtained an official transcript from the two-day annual training camp held for the IFE’s youth wing, the Young Muslim Organisation UK, held in Leicestershire last June. In one talk, Muhammad Rabbani, a trustee of the youth wing, told the recruits: “Our goal is to create the True Believer, [and] to then mobilise these believers into an organised force for change who will carry out dawah [preaching], hisbah [enforcement of Islamic law] and jihad. This will lead to social change and Iqamatud-Deen [an Islamic social and political order].”The nature of that Islamic social and political order in Britain was made clear when Mr Rabbani said: “Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” He instructed the recruits to “protect yourselves” from music, television and “free mixing with women in that which is not necessary”.
Another speaker, Shaikh Abdullah Zainal Abideen, told the trainees: “Victory is for Islam and Muslims”. Azad Ali, the IFE’s community affairs coordinator, was filmed by the undercover reporters stating: “Democracy, if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia, no one’s going to agree with that.”
The IFE is not itself a violent organisation. None of its members is known to have been personally implicated in any terrorist act and it has, apparently sincerely, condemned terrorist attacks in London.However, the IFE appears satisfied to host speakers who advocate hatred and violence. Several of its senior officials, including Mr Ali, until recently defended Anwar al-Awlaki, who is blamed for inspiring at least three terrorist attacks, including September 11 and the attempted underwear bombing in Detroit.
Several IFE activists and officials, including Mr Ali, support Hamas . . . Mr Ali advocates the destruction of Israel, justifies the killing of British troops in Iraq, believes al-Qaeda is a “myth” and has praised Osama bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam.
The mosque also insisted it was tolerant and liberal. . . Dr Bari has promised: “If I hear of a specific preacher inciting hatred, I will ban him from the mosque.”The investigation by this newspaper has established that far from being “banned”, hate and extremist preachers regularly appear at the mosque. It has hosted at least 27 of them over the past three years, and at least 18 of them over the past year alone.