Manager of Radical French Mosque Arrested for Fraud and Embezzlement on a Grand Scale

A Palestinian man reads the Koran at the al-Omari mosque in Gaza City, on the second day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan on May 7, 2019. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP) (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images)
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

The manager of a suspected radical mosque, along with three others, was arrested this week in northern France over allegations of fraud and embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of euros of foreign cash.

The manager of the Al Houda mosque in Grande-Synthe, 49-year-old Ouarab A., two of his two sisters and the treasurer of the mosque were taken into custody on Wednesday by local police in an operation of the departmental anti-fraud committee.

Ouarab allegedly tried to grab the weapon of an officer during his arrest,

According to investigators, at least €350,000 (£297,738/$363,181) in foreign cash is thought to have been embezzled by the mosque, which is said to follow the ultra-conservative Islamic ideology of Salafism, French broadcaster CNews reports.

The four arrestees are also believed to have committed social benefit fraud in the amount of around €70,000 (£59,569/$72,649), according to investigators, who allege that the fraudulent transfers were made through associations run by the mosque manager’s sisters, who are aged 46 and 47.

The Al Houda mosque, which is also home to an unauthorized Qu’ranic school, is said to have been purchased using the embezzled funds.

The case is just the latest to see radical Muslims accused of fraud and financial crimes in recent years.

During the Wuhan virus pandemic, for example, there were several reports of Islamists using coronavirus schemes to defraud Western governments, as in May 2020 when German police in Berin raided the homes of several Islamic extremists over fraud allegations.

These included a man who had been investigated for plotting a terrorist attack against the Berlin marathon.

Investigators said that Islamists had claimed cash for emergency financial aid for businesses affected by the coronavirus and the associated lockdown restrictions imposed on German residents. Some claimed aid for businesses that were not in operation at all.

Just a month later, Berlin police raided even more Islamists, suspected of engaging in benefit fraud. Some suspects were linked to the Ibrahim al-Khalil mosque, one of the main gathering points for Salafists in the German capital.

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