The trial of an imam who was accused of conducting hundreds of sham marriages for British residency permits has collapsed after a Home Office blunder meant the prosecution had no evidence to present at trial.
Mohammed Mattar, 62, was accused of performing the ceremonies at an ‘Islamic Centre’, in fact a bookshop, in North-West London between 2008 and 2012. It is thought there were some 580 of these ‘sham marriages’ in all, for which Mattar was arrested at the Dar Al Dawa bookshop of Westbourne Grove road in 2012, reports the Daily Telegraph.
The court case against Mr. Mattar for conspiring to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law and money laundering was due to proceed this month but was dropped at the last moment. A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service, which is the government body which brings cases against individuals said: “In early 2014 we identified a large amount of potentially relevant material and we advised the Home Office investigation team to obtain and look into the material for the purpose of disclosure.
“In August it became apparent that this work had not been completed and therefore we would not be able to fully discharge disclosure obligations in the case before the trial.
“We therefore applied for an adjournment. This was refused by the court and we had no option, but to offer no evidence”.
Mr. Mattar’s wife maintained her husband’s innocence, and her ignorance of goings on in his daily life. She said: “We had a bookshop, that was it. He is a religious man, we are Muslim, but he never carried out any marriages… Police came to our house two years ago … They took some things away, I don’t know what it was, they said it was to do with sham marriages but Mohammed never talked about it.
“I am just a housewife… We don’t speak about these things”. When asked if her husband was an Imam or not, she said “Not that I know of, I’m too busy looking after my child. He’s a trader and he’s always out working”.
Mattar’s former bookshop in Westbourne Grove is just streets away from the Westbourne Park Al-Manaar mosque, the infamous Kensington place of worship linked to many British young jihadis now dead or fighting abroad. As reported by Breitbart London, the chairman of the mosque admitted earlier this month that his congregation was so large on Fridays he was unable to prevent radicalisation. He said: “On Fridays we have about 2,000 people come. Who meets who? Who says what to who? I think it would be dishonest if I told you ‘No’.
“But we try our best to control what goes on in our premises. We don’t allow people to address the congregation; we don’t allow people to distribute literature. Unfortunately these things happen on the big occasions, like on Fridays. And then you find people on the street outside the mosque, lobbying people, giving out literature — some of it for good causes, some of it for others”.
‘Jihadi rapper’ and ISIS fighter Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, who was considered to be a potential man behind ‘Jihadi John’ has been linked with the mosque, as well as local boys and Al-Manaar worshippers, Hamza Parvez and Mohammed Nasser.
Nasser was killed in an explosion shortly after arriving in Syria in May, but Parvez is still fighting and “is actively taking part” in the establishment of the Islamic State. Other former worshippers are known to have gone to fight abroad, and “underwear smuggler” Amal Al-Wahabi who tried to get large amounts of cash to her jihadi husband in Turkey in her friends knickers was a former employee of the mosque’s nursery.