The head of the British government’s charities regulator says Muslim charities face a “deadly” threat from terrorist infiltration, with some being used to promote, and recruit for, violent jihad.
Latest figures from the Charity Commission show the number of serious incidents and reports about the targeting of Muslim charities by terrorists and extremists has increased significantly in the past year, reports The Daily Telegraph.
The resulting formal legal disclosures of information between the regulator, the police and other relevant agencies regarding Muslim charities becoming linked to Islamist causes have more than doubled between 2014 and 2015. The Commission sends information to the police if it uncovers evidence of charities involvement with terrorism, and police and other agencies disclose similar information to the Commission.
In the past year 506 such formal disclosures were made to the police by the Commission, up from 234 the previous year.
This led to 80 inspection visits for those charities judged vulnerable to terrorists and extremism and more than 50 formal investigations and early stage assessments. In some cases this was because they operated in Syria or similarly high-risk areas, in others their domestic British activities, such as inviting radical speakers to events, drew attention.
11 reports fell within the most serious category of incidents during 2014-15, up from seven the year before. In some of the most serious cases examples arose of aid workers helping people affected by ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq being recruited as terrorists. Other charities have had property stolen and even staff kidnapped and killed.
Eight of the most serious reports involved charities allegedly expressing actual support for causes backed by terrorists or extremists.
As a proportion of the total number of formal disclosures made by the Commission, terrorism and extremism concerns now account for over a fifth (being 22 per cent in the last year, as opposed to 14 per cent the year before).
The Commission’s Chairman, William Shawcross, said terrorism and extremism pose “one of the most deadly threats” to charities, meaning his staff are now instructed to take an “increasingly robust” approach to vulnerable charities. He explained:
“We are opening more investigations and using more of our powers to regulate charities effectively. The crisis in Syria has evoked a generous public response, but with this comes a greater risk of charities being subjected to abuse.
“We are working hard, together with other agencies, to prevent Islamist abuse of charities and to counter any terrorist threats.”