British police forces are sharing platforms with Islamic extremists from discredited Islamist organisation MEND, formerly known as iENGAGE—and even co-hosting events with them—throughout November as part of Islamophobia Awareness Month, a Breitbart investigation has revealed.
In November, Mark Burns-Williamson, police and crime commissioner for West Yorkshire Police, will share a platform at an event called Building Bridges in Leeds with Azad Ali, Head of Community Development & Engagement for Islamist organisation MEND. Ali is a notorious Islamic extremist who once suggested that the killing of British troops in Iraq was justified.
The Telegraph reported in 2012 that Ali “has written on his IFE blog of his ‘love’ for Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda cleric … used to attend talks by Al-Qaeda’s main representative in the UK, Abu Qatada … described al-Qaeda as a ‘myth’ and said that the Mumbai terrorist attacks were not terrorism.”
Harvinder Saimbhi, Leeds City Council’s Head of Anti-Social Behaviour, is also sharing the same platform with Ali at the Building Bridges conference, an initiative from South Asian charity Hamara, which describes itself as “the largest ethnic minority organisation in the voluntary and community sector in Leeds, based in a purpose developed £1.2 million centre in Beeston”.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Muslim Police are co-hosting an event with MEND’s founder and managing director, Sufyan Ismail. The event will take place on Monday, 24 November at the City of London Police Headquarters in Wood Street, London. A representative from City of London Police will speak alongside Ismail, according to email invitations seen by Breitbart, dated 7 November and signed by Fatima Khan, MEND’s “Hate Crime and Stakeholder Lead”.
Sufyan Ismail has promoted hate preacher Hatham al Haddad, who believes that Muslims should cut all ties with family members who leave Islam, non-Muslim political systems are “filthy” and “slavery” is superior to Western prisoner of war protocols, among other distasteful things catalogued by political blog Harry’s Place.
To those unfamiliar with MEND, the outfit is a rebrand of an earlier, widely discredited organisation known as iENGAGE, a detail confirmed by the City of London Police’s own invitations, which refer to “MEND (formerly known as iENGAGE)”. MEND’s website still resides at iengage.uk.net.
As iENGAGE, MEND targeted Muslim campaigning groups and individuals who spoke out against Islamism, condemned David Cameron for severing ties with the Muslim Council of Britain after its deputy general secretary, Daud Abdullah, refused to withdraw his support from the Istanbul Declarations, and objected to the banning of terrorist group Hizb ut Tahrir from universities and schools.
An All-Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia voted 60-2 to dispense with the services of iENGAGE when these facts came to light in 2011. This followed the resignation of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Group in protest at iENGAGE’s head of research, Islamist sympathiser Shenaz Buglawala, being awarded a House of Commons pass.
Taxpayers will want to know why founder Sufyan Ismail, who has promoted a hate preacher and who founded and still runs an organisation which in its previous incarnation was repeatedly banished from public life for extremist views, is co-hosting an event with a senior police officer aimed at lecturing officers about “hate speech”.
Even more disturbing is the fact that West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council have seen fit to share a platform with Ismail’s subordinate, Azad Ali. According to the Telegraph‘s Andrew Gilligan, despite his position as chairman of the Muslim Safety Forum, a body closely linked to the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe, Ali was appointed the Metropolitan Police’s “principal” representative of the Muslim community in 2006.
But, in 2008, Ali was forced to resign from his position as chair of the Muslim Safety Forum, just two years after establishing it as founding chair, after his extremist opinions came to light. The MSF received £30,000 in public funding in 2009 under London mayor Boris Johnson and at least £70,000 under previous mayor Ken Livingstone.
The IFE was the subject of a BBC Dispatches exposé in 2010 which revealed that its stated objectives are jihad, the transformation of Britain into an Islamic state and the establishment of sharia law. In 2012, Ali was the IFE’s community affairs co-ordinator.
In 2009, Ali was suspended from his public sector job at the Treasury after he praised Osama bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. Ali had also blogged supportively about Azzam’s son, who had written: “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.”
In 2010, Ali lost a legal action against the Mail on Sunday for an article about him in which the paper reported some of these unsavoury views. The same year, Labour Cabinet ministers were heavily criticised for sharing a platform with him.
As long ago as 2010, Tory MP and counter-terrorism expert Patrick Mercer said of Ali: “It beats me why the police should want to take the advice of this man. They should have nothing to do with him. I know for a fact that there are just as knowledgeable members of the Muslim community who do not share his subversive views.”
Yet, in spite of his extremist views, Ali’s MEND biography states that he is a member of the IPCC’s Community Advisory Group and the Home Office’s Trust and Confidence Community Panel. West Yorkshire Police, which is sharing a platform with Azad Ali in Leeds this month, did not return a request for comment.
Hamara, the group behind the Leeds Building Bridges conference at which Ali will speak, says it “stands out as a beacon within the community and voluntary sector and its success has inspired many other organisations to emulate its achievements”. It did not return a request for comment.
Invitations to Building Bridges were sent from a Leeds City Council email address on 5 November to delegates within Leeds City Council and Leeds University, according to messages seen by Breitbart, as well as to other police forces, charities and housing associations. Leeds City Council did not provide a spokesperson for comment.
City of London Police’s Equality Diversity and Human Rights Unit confirmed to Breitbart that it was running an event with MEND, and that MEND’s managing director, Sufyan Ismail, would be speaking alongside a representative from City of London Police, but declined to answer further questions by email.
The London Muslim Communities Forum, a strategic body that advises Scotland Yard on Muslim issues, promoted the National Association of Muslim Police event on 24 November to officers elsewhere in the force, charities, youth groups, the Home Office and even Transport for London staff in an email on 10 November, seen by Breitbart.
The LMCF did not respond to a written request for comment, despite agreeing over the telephone to respond to any enquiries sent by email.