Wednesday, March 17, 2010

America must learn from the UK about the future of Islamist subversion. Part I

by Steven Emerson

1st part of 2

looking across the Atlantic at our closest friend and ally, the United Kingdom, are we looking into our future? Or maybe even our present?

A brilliant expose on Channel 4's "Dispatches" and the pages of the Telegraph, reveals that the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) - which has chapters across Europe - has infiltrated the British Labour Party in London, holds sway over local government spending, and tries to manipulate electoral politics. The IFE has extensive ties with Jama'at-e-Islami, a political movement founded by Syed Abul A'ala Maududi - the godfather of modern Islamism - in Pakistan in 1941. In fact, IFE officials also hold leadership positions at the East London Mosque and the Muslim Council of Britain - both of which are heavily dominated by Islamist - and, particularly - Jama'at-e-Islami cadres in Britain. The IFE is even headquartered in the same complex of the East London Mosque, which calls the IFE "a social welfare organization."

However, that is not how Jim Fitzpatrick, the UK Environment Minister, views it. He told Telegraph London editor Andrew Gilligan:

"They are acting almost as an entryist organisation, placing people within the political parties, recruiting members to those political parties, trying to get those individuals selected and elected so they can exercise political influence and power, whether it's at local government level or at national level."

An IFE leaflet shown in the "Dispatches" program claims the organization is dedicated to changing "the very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order, and its creed from ignorance to Islam."

The program featured a recording of a speaker at an IFE event:

"Our goal is to create the True Believer. To then mobilize these believers into an organized force for change who will carry out da'wah, hisbah [enforcement of Islamic law], and jihad. This will lead to social change and iqamatud-Deen."

Another IFE pamphlet reads, "[T]he Islamic Forum Europe strives for the establishment of a global society, the Khilafah [Caliphate], based on truth and justice." A host of an IFE radio program explained over the airwaves, "Democracy, if it means that, you know, at the expense of not implementing the Sharia, no-one's going to agree with that."

The parallels with Maududi's revolutionary thought, contained in his pamphlets, Process of Islamic Revolution and Moral Foundations of the Islamic Government, are striking. Central to Maududi's argument is that an Islamic revolution must be manned by cadres immersed in the tenets and ideology of Islam who create a "system of education to train and mould the masses in the Islamic pattern of life." This system would

"produce Muslim scientists, Muslim philosophers, Muslim historians, Muslim economists and financial experts, Muslim jurists and politicians; in short in every branch of knowledge there should be men who have imbibed the Islamic ideology…men who have the ability to build a complete system of thought and of practical life based on Islamic principles and who have strength enough to challenge effectively intellectual leadership of the present Godless thinkers and scientists."

These men would engage in a struggle of word and deed to proclaim the Islamic system to the world. This will attract a segment of society, bringing about a "revolution…in the mentality of the masses…" It will then "become impossible…for any other system of life to maintain its existence." Due to the patient efforts of the Islamist educational system, once this occurs, there will be cadres at every level and in every field ready to seize the reins of power.


Shared Means and Ideology in the U.S.

There is also an obvious parallel with an internal U.S. Muslim Brotherhood strategy memo, written in the early 1990s and released as evidence in the terrorism financing trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. That memo reads:

"The process of settlement is a 'Civilization-Jihadist Process' with all the word means [sic]. The Ikhwan must understand their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."

In 1987, the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council stated in another internal memo that its goal is:

"[The] Enablement of Islam in North America, meaning: establishing an effective and a stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood which adopts Muslims' causes domestically and globally, and which works to expand the observant Muslim base, aims at unifying and directing Muslims' efforts, presents Islam as a civilization alternative, and supports the global Islamic State wherever it is."

A dawah manual produced by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) - a U.S. group that is, like the IFE, heavily tied to Jama'at-e-Islami, explains that dawah - or the effort to spread Islam - for them is a means toward overthrowing "those who are rebellious to Allah" and establishing Islamic governance.

The ICNA manual continues:

"As a result of the Da'wah process, we will be able to reach Muslims conscious of their obligations and willing to strive in the way of Islam. They are to be organized under the banner of the Islamic Circle. As a part of this Movement, they will be involved in intensive Islamic education and training. This is to prepare for Jihad - the struggle to establish Allah's Din Islam on the earth…"


IFE's Infiltration

As noted by Rashad Ali, a former Hizb ut Tahrir activist interviewed by "Dispatches," Maududi's script is being followed closely by the IFE. In fact, when Channel 4's undercover journalists went to the East London Mosque to join the IFE, they found that members are told to keep their ties to the group a secret and are required to sign an oath of allegiance. The undercover journalists were told that they "have to accept every aspect of Islam. Political aspect, economical aspect, because Islam provides all the solutions. Allah gives us everything, the sharia covers everything, every aspect of life."

Members are also given a reading list, which includes works by Maududi, including Let Us Be Muslims. One passage in this text reads:

"[A] sacred duty devolves upon you: wherever you are, in whichever country you live, you must strive to change the wrong basis of government, and seize all powers to rule and make laws from those who do not fear God."

The best example of IFE infiltration is the Tower Hamlets borough council in London. Through aggressive lobbying and canvassing, the IFE was able to get Lutfar Rahman appointed as head of the Tower Hamlets council. Shortly thereafter, Rahman managed to get Luftar Ali - a candidate with a "downright dishonest" resume - appointed as assistant chief executive, a post with responsibility over grant funding. This achievement was accomplished despite council head-hunters who found him to be "rather superficial" and worried that he "may struggle with the intellectual challenges in a highly strategic role." This result has given two men with extensive IFE ties essential control over a 1 billion budget, which they have used robustly to support Islamist causes and the promotion of its interpretation of Islam in public spaces and institutions in Tower Hamlets.

Local activist leaders have noticed that millions of pounds in funding have increasingly gone to IFE-linked groups at the expense of other community groups that had received funding previously. "All the resources is [sic] going to Islamic and fundamentalist group [sic]," complained one Tower Hamlets Muslim resident and activist. Most of the residents interviewed by "Dispatches" who have complained about the situation and even protested publicly against IFE's efforts have been Muslims of Bengali origin who do not agree with IFE's Islamist agenda.

Rashad Ali explains that the IFE has sought to enter the Labour Party - a secular party - "with the intention of being able to influence the future political agenda." He continues, "The aim of jihad is to bring down every other government which does not impose Islam, or their interpretation of Islam." Fitzpatrick claims that local Muslims who had never participated in Labour politics before turned up at elections with printed lists of who they were to vote for - the marching orders from IFE - and then were never seen again.

Labour officials quickly became concerned and suspended the rights of the Tower Hamlets branch to select its own candidates. "We're concerned about people joining for the right reasons and are trying to prevent organisations filtering in who may try taking over the party by signing up and ousting existing members," a Labour spokesman said.

These concerns seem well-founded. "Dispatches" obtained Tower Hamlets Labour membership lists between 2006 and 2008 and discovered that, while Labour party membership has been in decline everywhere else, it had more than doubled in Tower Hamlets. In 2006, the ethnic makeup of the Tower Hamlets Labour members was 50% South Asian and 50% non-South Asian. This statistic roughly reflected the ethnic make-up of the borough. Yet 90% of the new members since 2006 have been South Asian.

"If you don't believe in democracy or in mainstream pluralistic political parties, if you have a disdain towards them, the idea of taking them over and subverting them…is quite an appealing thing," said Paul Richards, former advisor to the UK Department of Communities and Local Government.

Not surprisingly, IFE played a decisive role in the 2005 election of George Galloway, the firebrand supporter of Hamas and founder of the RESPECT Party. At an East London Mosque dinner following his electoral victory, he stated: "I am indebted more than I can say, more than it would be wise for them for me to say, to the Islamic Forum of Europe. I believe they played the decisive role…" Galloway has tried to diminish the role the IFE has played in his political career in comments to "Dispatches."


Steven Emerson

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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