London Mayor's Ties To Extremism Call Commitment To Fighting Terror Into Question
In 2016, Prime Minister David Cameron was widely criticized in the UK when he claimed that London mayor Sadiq Khan had ties to the terror group ISIS. An investigation by Disobedient Media has determined that Khan has ties not just to organizations associated with ISIS, but also groups such as Hamas, Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. During his time as mayor, London has seen an increase in terror incidents with concerning indications that terror groups wish to stage a major attack on the City of London. Rather than focusing on combatting terror, Khan has used his forum to tell Londoners as well as citizens in other parts of Europe and the United States that the West must learn to live with terrorism as a part of daily life. Khan’s extreme flirtation with radical Islamic extremism raises serious questions about his commitment to fighting a wave of extremist fueled terrorism that only continues to spread after a number of attacks and police operations in London and other areas of the UK.
I. Khan Has Been Affiliated With Organizations Tied To Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Al Nusra, ISIS And The Muslim Brotherhood
A. Khan’s Relationship To Figures Tied To Hamas And The Muslim Brotherhood
Khan has openly associated in the past with individuals and organizations tied to Palestinian terror group Hamas. During his time as a legal advocate, Sadiq Khan served as the Chief Legal Advisor of the Muslim Council of Britain’s legal affairs committee. Khan was a member of a delegation organized by the Muslim Council of Britain in 2003 to protest what they described as “indiscriminate” arrests of Muslims for alleged terror ties. The Muslim Council of Britain was placed under investigation by the British government over “irregularities” surrounding £1,263,000 in aid given to it by the government. In the past it has admitted to funding groups tied to both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and is banned from Israel as a result of its ties to terror. On September 19th, 2004, Khan spoke at an event which included Ibrahim Hewitt; Hewitt has decreed on record that adultery should be punished by stoning. Hewitt serves as the Chairman of The Palestinian Relief and Development Fund (Interpal), an organization which has been labeled as a Terrorist Entity by the United States Department of the Treasury for providing support to Hamas and acting as a part of its funding network in Europe. Despite the US Treasury’s designation, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn has described Hewitt as a “very good friend.”
That same year, Khan spoke out in defense of Qatar-based Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has praised suicide attacks and decreed that homosexuality is a crime under Islam. Qaradawi has travelled directly to Gaza for the purpose of providing Hamas with ideological legitimacy and stated that Palestinian suicide attacks against the nation of Israel are justified. Qaradawi was also barred from entering into the United States in 1999, the UK in 2008, and France in 2012. In 2007, Khan and Jeremy Corbyn were present at a tenth anniversary celebration of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC). The PRC is accused by the Israeli government of being affiliated with Hamas and had invited Hamas Minister of Refugee Affairs Atef Ibrahim Adwan to speak at the same event the year before.
While the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) claims to be non-sectarian, a government report released in 2015 revealed that supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood “played an important role in establishing and then running” the MCB and continues to exert “significant influence” in it. In 2009 the UK government cut ties with the MCB after it signed a public document which appeared to condone violence against any country supporting an arms blockade of Gaza. The government report also found that a number of Brotherhood groups have for years been raising funds in the UK. Some of those funds have allegedly been linked to Hamas, whose military wing was proscribed by Britain as a terrorist organisation in 2001. The MCB was also criticized for its ties to Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamic group linked to a number of terror organizations in Pakistan whose members have been accused of war crimes in Bangladesh.
B. Khan Supported Convicted Taliban Sympathizers
In 2009, Khan acted as a member of an international campaign which sought to resist attempts to extradite Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan for their role in providing material support to the Taliban and Chechen jihadist groups via a number of websites they ran under the name of Azzam Publications. Ahmad and Ahsan were ultimately extradited to the United States, where they pled guilty to terrorism charges.
Khan went to visit Babar Ahmad on multiple occasions between May 21, 2005 and June 2006, while he was being held in Woodhill prison awaiting a ruling on his extradition request. It was reported that Khan visited Ahmad, not in his capacity as an MP, but as a friend, as the two had known each other since they were children. In September of 2005, in an attempt to thwart Ahmad’s extradition to the United States, Khan presented a petition containing 18,000 signatures to then Home Secretary Charles Clarke, calling for him to be tried in the UK instead. However, Ahmad was ultimately extradited to the US on October 5, 2012, where he was held in custody until his release in July 2015.
C. Khan Has Involved Himself With Groups Connected To Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Al-Nusra
Sadiq Khan has historically maintained close relational and professional ties with groups associated with both Al-Qaeda and ISIS. During the 1990’s, Khan’s brother in law Makbool Javaid gave fiery public addresses advocating jihad and whose name even appeared on a fatwa calling for holy war against the United Kingdom and United States. Javaid was a member of the Islamic group Al-Muhajiroun. Al-Muhajiroun was founded by Islamic hate preacher Omar Bakri Muhammad, who has been banned from the UK since 2005 and acted as a sponsor and recruiter of British jihadists seeking to join ISIS. Al-Muhajirou was also lead by Anjem Choudary, a British Islamist who was jailed in 2016 for supporting the Islamic State after he released guides on making bombs and establishing “Muslim gangs” for the purpose of committing terror attacks. The guides are indicative of an increasingly tight relationship between organized crime and ISIS in Western Europe previously reported on by Disobedient Media. Other connections to Al-Muhajiroun include Parliament attacker Khalid Masood, Lee Rigby’s murderer Michael Adebolajo and Abdul Waheed Majeed, an Al-Nusra affiliated militant who in 2014 became the first British born jihadist to carry out a suicide attack in Syria.
While Khan has tried to distance himself from his brother in law and Al-Muhajiroun, in 2003 he shared a stage with Sajeel Abu Ibrahim, another member of Al-Muhajiroun and convicted terrorist who ran a camp in Pakistan which trained Taliban militants and Al-Qaeda 7/7 bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan. Also speaking at the same event was Yasser al-Siri, a terrorist who has been sentenced to death in absentia by Egyptian authorities over a political assassination attempt there which left a young girl dead.
In 2004, Khan made an “error of judgement” by attending four meetings organized by Stop Political Terror, a group supported by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula senior recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki. Stop Political Terror was later merged with the Islamic organization CAGE, who represented the ISIS executioner “Jihadi John” (Mohammed Emwazi) as a “beautiful young man.” Khan claimed that he was merely there as part of his efforts to help fight the extradition of convicted terrorist Babar Ahmed to the United States. He has furthermore stated that he condemns CAGE despite his appearances at events organized by their affiliates and the fact that he wrote a forward for a report run by CAGE in 2006.
In 2008, reports revealed that Khan was serving as a legal consultant for convicted 9/11 plotter Zacarius Moussaoui. It was further revealed that Khan was the only practicing Muslim on Moussaoui’s defense team. Moussaoui was ultimately extradited to the US, where he pled guilty to taking part in the 9/11 attacks. Moussaoui is currently being held at the Federal ADX Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, where he is serving 6 life sentences without parole.
Khan also regularly attended Tooting Islamic Center (TIC), which was run by Suliman Ghani. Gani is a vocal supporter of convicted Al Qaeda operative Aafia Siddiqui, as well as a supporter of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Shaker Aamer. Khan has shared a platform with the controversial imam at least nine times between 2004 and 2013.
II. Khan Has Used His Political Influence To Fuel Sectarianism And Has Routinely Failed To Speak Out Against Those Who Denigrate Women’s Rights
A. Promotion Of Sectarianism
Sadiq Khan claims that much of his association with various individuals and groups tied to jihad and terrorism was a result of his work as a human rights lawyer. However, The Daily Beast has noted that Khan did not attend the majority of these events in his capacity as a lawyer at all. Khan has a long history of making off color comments justifying sectarianism and terror. He has repeatedly had to apologize for comments he has made smearing moderate Muslims and telling Europeans and Americans to expect terrorism as a part of living in metropolitan areas. In 2009, while serving as the “Minister for Community Cohesion,” Khan was interviewed by Iranian-backed Press TV. During the interview, he referred to moderate Muslim groups who commonly lead the fight to curb Islamic extremism as “Uncle Toms.”
While Khan apologized for the remark, he has had no qualms about fomenting sectarian strife against Islamic minorities for political gain. In 2010, while running for re-election as Shadow Justice Secretary, Khan worked with the Tooting Islamic Center (TIC) to attack his political opponent, Nasser Butt based on his ties to the Ahmadiyya Islamic minority. The Muslim Council of Britain also contributed to sectarian attacks against the Ahmadiyya community in the UK.
In September 2016, Khan stated in the wake of the New York and New Jersey bombings, which injured 35 people that he believes the threat of terror attacks are simply “part and parcel of living in a big city.” Khan has demonstrated a ready willingness to label Scottish nationalism as promoting racism. Yet he was silent when huge crowds of Muslims descended upon London in December 2016 for a week of protests calling for the establishment of a global Caliphate. Protestors at the event openly waved flags and bore placards supporting the Taliban and Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain.
B. Failure To Speak Out Against Marginalization Of Women
On many occasions, Khan has spoken alongside individuals who promote Salafist principals advocating the abuse of women. In 2008, Khan was filmed delivering a speech at the Global Peace and Unity festival in 2008 organised by the Islam Channel. The Islam Channel was found guilty by the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) of extremism both before and after the MP’s appearance. Members of the audience during Khan’s speech were openly waving the black flag of jihad and sporting headbands with extremist slogans written on them. The network’s head, Mohamed Ali Harrath was arrested on terror charges in South Africa after he was sought by Interpol and Tunisia due to his involvement with a militant group there. Ofcom specifically criticized the Islam Channel for comments it made labeling women who wore perfume as prostitutes as well as for advocating marital rape and violence against women.
In addition to his appearances at events alongside individuals who have demeaned and denigrated women, Khan also accepts funding from financial backers who promote extremist figures who have repeatedly expressed contempt for women’s rights. In 2016, the Daily Mail revealed that Muslim millionaire Farouq Sheikh had donated £15,000 to Khan’s mayoral campaign. Mr. Sheikh has also donated at least £150,000 over a three-year period to a charity founded by Dr Zakir Naik. Dr. Naik is a Indian cleric who has been barred from entering Canada and the UK after making very controversial comments exhorting Muslims to become terrorists as well as stating that “Jews are our staunchest enemy.” Naik is also the founder and owner of Peace TV, which is believed to reach a global audience of nearly 100 million. Despite having such a large audience, Dr. Naik’s preaching has been banned in India, Bangladesh, Canada, and the UK, due to the many extremely controversial statements he has made and beliefs he holds. In 2016, The Huffington Post condemned Naik over his comments supporting female sex slavery, beating one’s wife, the death penalty for those who renounce Islam and the prohibition of homosexuality.
In addition to taking funds from mutual supporters of Dr. Naik, Sadiq Khan has also advocated for groups which support his brand of extremism. In 2011, Khan defended a controversial organization known as iEngage, from being barred from involvement with the All Party Parliamentary Group. In Parliament, iEngage was described as having a track record of aggressive anti-Semitism, homophobic, as well as having links to terror in Tunisia & the Middle East. That same year, the Chief Executive of iEngage wrote a letter asking the Home Secretary to lift the ban that had been placed on Dr. Naik.
Khan has also failed to address a growing epidemic of acid attacks in London; roughly 80% of victims of such attacks globally are on women. In 2016 alone, London saw 431 acid attacks, a rise of over 170 cases from the previous year. The instances of attacks in London represent a rising number of crime related incidents as the city has grown increasingly lawless.
III. Authorities Have Sought To Minimize A Wave Of Terror Affecting London And The UK
For well over a year now, London has been hit with a number of terror incidents. In some cases, these incidents appear to have been minimized by both authorities and the media in an attempt to stile public panic. Despite the denials by authorities in many cases, the confiscation abroad of large weapons shipments destined for London and the recent attack on Parliament makes it clear that the city’s terror problem is more serious than is publicly acknowledged.
October 6th, 2016: News World India reported that police in Karachi, Pakistan had recovered the largest ever cache of NATO weapons in the hands of Islamic jihadists in the city’s history. Karachi’s police chief stated that the weapons were scheduled to be shipped to militant groups in London for a major operation they were planning. How the militants were able to acquire the massive supply of NATO arms is unclear.
October 21st, 2016: BBC News reported a “chemical scare” at London City Airport. Paramedics treated 26 people at the scene and took two to hospital. The cause was claimed to be a CS gas spray which was “accidentally” released. The incident came several days after an explosion at facilities belonging to German chemical manufacturer BASF left two dead.
November 9th, 2016: BBC News reported that a tram derailment in Croydon, London left seven dead and 50 injured. The driver was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter. The next day The Guardian cited a survivor of the crash who stated that the driver told him he had “blacked out.” The story was then dropped from the press and not followed up on. ISIS has in the past targeted trains in a number of different geographic locales, including India and the United States.
January 24th, 2017: The Evening Standard reported a huge explosion in Hornchurch, East London that sent five to the hospital. A Met Police spokesman said that two men were arrested on suspicion of arson. No further details were released about the suspects.
February 8th, 2017: Metro reported an explosion on an East London train where several were injured and passengers jumped onto the track in panic. The explosion was blamed on an “overheating battery.” The incident happened just hours after the Daily Mirror reported an explosion on the Paris metro which injured eight passengers and forced dozens to evacuate. The media immediately reported that the blast was caused by an “electrical fire” despite also reporting that it was unclear what caused the explosion.
February 27th, 2017: The Express reported that a junction in Shoreditch high street in London was evacuated and bomb squad trucks called in to deal with what they said was a “suspected explosive device.” Police stated afterward that the device was an “inert WWII bomb.” How a WWII era munition had managed to sit undetected next to an incredibly busy intersection of London for decades was not explained.
March 14th, 2017: The Evening Standard reported that a 60-year-old man was stabbed by a machete-wielding attacker outside of the Horse and Groom pub in London. The attacker was arrested by the Met Police and no further information was released.
March 22nd, 2017: A terror attack targeting Westminster Bridge and Parliament has resulted in over 40 injuries and five dead, including an attacker. Authorities stated that the assailant acted alone despite multiple eyewitnesses claiming they saw multiple assailants during the attack.
March 23rd, 2017: Londoners reported a series of blasts coming from inside the city the day after the attack on Parliament. The Express subsequently reported that authorities had destroyed a suspicious package near the scene of the previous day’s attack in a controlled demolition. Police also raided six addresses in London, Birmingham and other areas of the UK in the aftermath of the terror incident, undermining official claims that the Parliament attacker had acted alone.
March 25th, 2017: The London Met responded in force to an incident where a car ran over multiple pedestrians in the Islington area. Despite the Met’s insistence that terrorism was not a factor, multiple knives were recovered from the scene invoking striking similarities to the Parliament attack just days earlier. The Islington incident occurred on the same day as a massive explosion in the town of New Ferry on Merseyside that authorities attributed to a gas leak.
David Cameron’s 2016 attempts to foster a conversation about the Mr. Khan ties to extremism resulted in detractors branding him as a rampant racist. Yet the extremely concerning connections between Sadiq Khan and those who participate in terror, promote extremist ideologies and advocate for the marginalization of women’s and LGBT rights raise very serious concerns about Khan’s willingness to take a firm stand against the threats facing London. Khan has shown that he has no qualms about fostering sectarian persecution against religious minorities not in line with mainstream Sunni Islam when it benefitted him politically. His unique history shows that he is prone to protecting the interests of his own cultural peers, but not those who differ from him culturally. As London descended into what appears to be a weekend of terror, it is apparent that the city faces these threats without a leader who is ready to take a bold stance to protect those who look up to him for guidance and protection.
This article was co-authored with Kenneth Whittle of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law