Tag Archive: Extremist


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On Saturday 30th April, I attended Cumberland Road Mosque’s conference 2016 which was entitled “Reclaiming Islam From Extremists” which consisted mainly of lectures given by renowned imams and students of knowledge on the issue of extremism within the traditions of Islam. On the bill were Taalib Alexander,a known student of knowledge who has delivered various lectures in South London, Abu Taymiyyah, student of knowledge from Leicester and Abu Usaama Adh-Dhahabi, Imam from Green Lane Masjid who filled in at the last minute for Abdur-Rahmaan Hassan. Taalib Alexander gave us an insightful lecture on the contemporary manifestations of extremist movements within the arab and muslim world. Focussing on Isis and Boko Haram, mainly, Taalib explained how these were organisations whose main aim was money and power and he gave examples of how these groups have killed muslims in order to attain power and influence.

 

His talk was beneficial because it gave the conference a more of a contemporary feel, since many of these lectures focus on the khwaarij mainly but Taalib exposed how these groups target muslims and other people of all faiths and none in the name of their own ideology, especially the targeting of young children which goes beyond all bounds and ethical norms. Abu Usama Ath Thahabi explained the Islamic definition of extremism and the position of islam and the traditional scholars on the issue of extremism, which they call ‘Ghuloo’. He explained that Islam doesn’t only recognise the far right extremists, which is those people who go overboard within religion which they impose on others, but there is also a recognition of far left extremism, which is the secular types who make up reasons for not practicing islam and the example he gave of this type of extremism was Quilliam Foundation. He explained that Islam was in the middle of these two extremes which is not to overburden yourself to the far right or not to be too relaxed in religion which is the far left but rather to stay on the middle path as explained in the Qur’an and the Sunnah & to finish off Abu Taymiyyah spoke about the contextualisation of violence within the sharia and gave examples of how, even though in some circumstances violence could have been used, the Prophet Muhammad(saw) chose peaceful methods when it came to dealing with people. From my experience in counter extremism work, those three topics were enough in terms of providing an over-arching framework of the extremism debate within Islam which provided enough scope for further issues to be discussed so with this in mind, I asked two questions at the Q&A session.

 

My first question was directed at Abu Usama my question was pertaining to the concept of Al Hakimiyyah (Sovereignty to God) and how extremist groups differ in their understanding to that of the understanding of the orthodox muslim scholars. Abu Usama explained that traditionally the Sunni Scholars have three categories in relation to the Oneness of God. Tauheed al Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of God in His  Lordship), Tauheed al Uloohiyyah (Oneness of God in his Worship) Tauheed al Asma Was As Sifaat (Oneness of God in His Names and Attributes) and he said that within these attributes, one can come to the understanding that God is al-Hakim (The Sovereign). So with this understanding, one is still within the orthodox sunni understanding of Islam however he went on to explain that extremists have come up with a fourth category which is Tauheed Al Hakimiyyah (Oneness of God in His Sovereignty) and what they have done is focus on the category of Al Hakimiyyah & politicised it to the detriment of all the other obligations within islam. So with this politicised category of Al Hakimiyyah there are no agreements with different states, there are no boundaries or nation states, mankind has no place in the interpretation of divine laws and regulations, there is no room for different opinions etc because everything and everyone comes under the rulership of God, well according to the way these extremists understand the Sovereignty of God. This question was needed to be asked because I wanted to focus on ideology which Abu Usama explained well Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God) but the debate on extremism is changing. It is not just solely on political violence anymore but it has evolved in to one of the friction between liberalism and conservatism. So with this in mind, I asked Abu Taymiyyah the question about the killings of the secular bloggers in Bangladesh and how muslims should deal with secular atheist bloggers in muslim majority societies. Both he & taalib denounced the killings of these bloggers stating that extra-judicial killings is against the rulings of Islam and it is only the prerogative of the ruler to deal with those subjects who may have broken the law of the land. Abu Taymiyyah went on to explain that muslims should deal with Secular bloggers with dialogue and debate, not violence.

 

Although there was a lot of benefits in going to this conference, I do have some lines of constructive criticism for the mosque committee and speakers. Although I understand that the speakers came from far and there were time limitations, for lectures that are essentially annual conferences for masjids and religious institutions I would have liked to see the use of audio visual equipment like, pictures, video etc by the speakers to compliment what they are talking about as it was billed as a conference so there could have been room to spice up the talks especially now that there is a lot of online verified testimony from people who have escaped the clutches of ISIS and Boko Haraam, seeing some of these videos as part of their talks would have been a nice compliment. So that’s my first point of constructive criticism. The second point comes with a caveat, although I understand the masjid was a small masjid and the lectures had to take place in the mens prayer space but to me you cant advertise something as an event for all of the community, only to find that at the event, there is a total lack of the presence or the participation of women. That, as well as of the issue of writing questions on paper for women, some would say, is almost discriminatory and I don’t think this has any place now as women, as should rightly be in my opinion, are involved in all aspects of public life. So for future events, I would suggest the renting of a hall where women are present and are participating in the event (by this I mean, you can have women speakers as well) or to extend the mosque where you have shared spaces where you can host your annual conferences and other events.

I would suggest the further development of halls in mosques as then when you do events, you can incorporate things like entertainment such as poetry or acapella rap or acoustic nasheed singing so the event is fun but also more importantly educational as well.

 

But with these points of criticism, I still commend the brothers for hosting an event on such a topic, it was very beneficial and I wish them all the best for the future by the Will of God.

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Roshan Muhammad Salih Born and spent early years in Sri Lanka, of Sri Lankan/British heritage. Lived in north Wales until A levels. Went to University in Staffordshire and Exeter with a year’s break in France. Sort of fell into teaching for a couple of years in a rough inner city school. Then retrained as a journalist, moving into local newspapers, then TV with Granada, Aljazeera (in the Middle East), Islam Channel and most recently Press TV. Now working as an independent documentary-maker. Specialism in global Muslim affairs.

He is working on a documentary looking at the MI5 and spying in the UK Muslim Community which will be available on press tv very soon so check http://www.presstv.com for more information. People can search for him on Facebook for more information about exact broadcast date. He will also put the documentary on youtube. Roshan can be contacted on roshan@newsanew.tv for more information.

Can you tell us more information about the documentary that your working for, especially the issue of spying in the muslim community?

Ah yeh, ok so this documentary, I’m an independent documentary maker , I’ve sold this documentary to press tv so it will broadcast on press tv in the next weeks or months at the latest they haven’t put across a date but I’ll keep you in touch with that. The idea of the documentary in a nutshell is that huge resources is being thrown at the terrorism threat or the so-called terrorism threat by the government and the community that they’re monitoring more than any other is overwhelmingly the Muslim community. And they are doing this in the name of national security to catch so called terrorists. Now the tactics they are using is ultimately very direct, they’re placing bugs in mosques , placing bugs in restaurants, in offices, they are monitoring young people, they’re monitoring community leaders, they’re monitoring women especially, they’re monitoring Somali youth, people in schools, colleges, universities because they think that these are the guys that are most likely to turn in to terrorists so in the one hand they’re monitoring the community quite intensively they’re also trying to recruit people from the community to become spies because what they need is information and access and they haven’t got that so who’s got it? Muslims have got it so they are trying desperately to get muslims to spy on their behalf. And they’re doing this with some success I’d say aswell. Other tactics they’re using currently they’re employing undercover police officers in the community especially converts, you know people who pretend to convert to islam and then very soon afterwards they start asking questions about what do you think about jihad? What do you think about Afghanistan? Iraq and lets do something and kind of encourage people to maybe say things they shouldn’t say and all the while they’re wearing recording devices and they’re filming whats going on and so you have this element of entrapment aswell and the basic premise of the documentary is that I think the government is not going after terrorists, I think we would all support them if they were genuinely going after terrorists but they’re targeting the whole community.

Did you encounter any obstacles while filming your documentary and if so, can you give us any specific examples?

Ah yeah I mean the police and the MI5 are completely uncooperative you know they don’t want anyone making any documentaries on any of this serious stuff or ask any serious questions so they didn’t give me any interviews they didn’t give me any help and you know, infact, I wouldn’t say that they were obstructive because they know if they were that would probably give me more reason to publicise what they are doing because they know I’m the kind of guy who would just go public straight away. But you know they turned down all our interviews so in terms of the police and MI5 there was no luck from them no cooperation from them whatsoever. Muslims I think are scared aswell I mean a lot of people approached me personally and said “I’m really glad you’re doing this, no one’s doing it and heres a lead follow this up” but they wouldn’t do it on camera, they wouldn’t go on camera especially even though they supported what I was doing and were encouraging me and giving me leads off the record and I just think they are very scared of what the security services can do because the security services are complete, they can get away with whatever they want here they’re completely untouchable you cant make a complaints against them and they can destroy your life ultimately so you know muslims are scared. On the other hand a lot of muslims who have been subjected to MI5 surveillance themselves did go on camera and these were the brave ones who ultimately said something needs to be done about it so it was kind of a mixed reception from the community itself I think I got here

From your experience would you say that there is a difference between someone who is an informant and organisations who act as partners with the police so for example if I can just break it down you know the Muslim Contact Unit has partner organisations that it works with so would you say that there is a fundamental difference between that relationship and the relationship between that of an informant and informer?

I’m actually looking at the Muslim Contact unit now, are you referring to specific groups or….

Yeh they work with specific muslim youth groups, muslim organisations that want to integrate young muslims back in to society however they because of this relationship between them and the police they can be seen by people as informers

I mean the Muslim Contact Unit if I remember correctly Bob lambert founded it wasn’t it, do you know about Bob Lambert?

Yes I do know

So basically he was a former spy and he kind of preyed of environmental groups and he had relations with women in thoese groups and had children and abandoned them, you know an inherently untrustworthy character and yet he made his way in to the muslim community unfortunately muslims seem to have taken him to their heart aswell. I mean I’m generally I would say in an an answer to your question I think there is overt spying going on and covert spying. I think any muslim organisation which takes money from government and any muslim organisation which has close ties with government and police, atleast we have the right to be suspicious and I think that as I said the governments needs access in to the community and if these people are taking money from the government that means that they are beholden to the government to a certain extent because theres no such thing as a free lunch in this life I’m afraid. So theres an overt kind of kind of spying going on where they probably pass on information I’m sure they do. I think then theres covert spying where you don’t know who’s working for who so I think theres a two pronged strategy overt and covert and you people might think the covert is worse than the overt but I think they’re two peas in a pod to be honest it’s the same thing ultimately, ones overt and ones secretive. Personally I’m against any muslim organisation taking any money from the government whatsoever

Can you give us any examples of organisations and individuals that are engaged in spying because in your statuses you say that there are liberal and there are extreme muslims who are “working” for the intelligence services, so can you give us any examples?

Well this is the thing, the short answer is no I’m not going to give you examples because the whole, this is all inherently underground activity there is no paper trail. MI5 do not leave a paper trail, that is what they are experts in doing and yet we know that they are spying on muslims because they basically admit it you know in the PREVENT papers which are published in the home office website and even in the meetings I have attended you know they’ve said to community members you’d be naïve to think if it wasn’t going on. I mean I cant name names because in order to name names you have to be 100% sure even as a muslim you know you cant finger people unless your 100% sure I just don’t believe in doing that I do think that any organisation, any muslim organisation which takes money from government is inherently suspicious and you know I think we have a right to suspect them. We don’t have a right to say we think you are definitely spies but we have a right to have doubts because we know that these are the type of organisations which are doing spying and I think any organisation which calls itself a womens empowerment organisation is inherently suspicious aswell, not that I’m against womens empowerment but it is also obviously so called government strategy to empower socalled muslim women who are being oppressed in their community and often these groups get government money so I think we have a right to have doubts about that. Also organisations that work with the young because the youth are the governments real target, that’s what they want information about so any youth community groups that are working with muslim youth I think, I would personally have doubts about them without saying they’re guilty, they’re innocent whatever so generally I would say in terms of organisations anyone that has close ties to the government and the police we should be suspicious about and we shouldn’t be naïve about it aswell because I mean I know somebody who I cant mention but I know he is an MI5 spy and I know that he’s a head of a huge muslim organisation in this country but I cant name him and he isn’t the kind of person you’d expect if I said his name to you now you’d be shocked OK you’d be absolutely shocked if I said it out loud they would demonise me they would come after me and say why are you going after this good man and that’s why I say we shouldn’t be naïve because the people that we least expect to be the spies are probably the spies and the ones that we do expect to be spies, maybe they’re not spies. So in terms of individuals, I think general islamist groups, I should say first of all I consider myself an islamist. I’m a practicing muslim who believes in political islam but I don’t believe in having contact with MI5 or police and this is why I think that my brothers my islamist brothers fall down because they will justify their contact with the MI5 and the police in the kind of it’s the greater good and I think that’s very cynical and that’s very hypocritical I don’t think you get in bed with your enemy one day and then you know fight him the next I think that’s completely cynical and hypocritical. I ultimately believe that your not in charge aswell because these guys, they control you, you don’t control them and these guys are masters of this game and you become pawns of the game. So you mentioned Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri Mohammed who have had contact with MI5, I know they have because I know their lawyers who sat in on these meetings they in themselves have had contact with MI5, whether they’re MI5 pawns or not is a different matter but we know that MI5 is infioltrating muslim organisations like al muhajiroun but I would say that every single major muslim organisation in this country would be infiltrated if you look at it from MI5’s point of view that just stands to reason. Basically in terms of individuals, I think that anyone, the fact is a lot of islamists have contact with the MI5 and a lot of them because they sought refuge in this country and as soon as you do that the MI5 and the police are all over you but that doesn’t mean that they are tools for MI5 but it does mean that some contact has gone on, I mean you never know whats actually happened, are they blackmailing them? Have they threatened their families? Are they working under duress? You know these are legitimate questions asked and also I mean the fact is if you look at Libya and Syria, these are two areas where islamists and the MI5 and I’ll say the MI6 are working in hand in hand because the islamists will justify it in terms of the greater good they’ll say that we have to overthrow despots like ghaddafi in Libya and bashar in Syria but the fact is that, I mean that I’ll give you an example I know a guy who’s on a control order and he met the same guy who was harassing him for 10 years on the Turkish and suria border and that guy was ultimately from MI5 who said to him “whatever you want I’ll give you” so you know they’re working on the same side so theres a marriage of convenience going on between some islamists and individuals and groups and MI5 and I think that personally my recommendation would be no contact with them whatsoever because your just asking for trouble.

Do you see the industry of spying in the muslim community getting more problematic or something that will die down in the future?

No its going to get bigger, mizan because ultimately the terror industry is big business and ultimately everything in this world comes down to money. And everyone has its price. Ultimately its in the interest of the security services to heighten the terror threat and they do that because as long as the terror threat is high they can go for huge government resources to finance the work they are doing and etc etc so everyones after these contracts and therefore they’re likely to keep on planting stories in the newspapers, they’re going to keep on using the daily mail, the daily telegraph, the daily express and all those right wing papers to heighten the terror threat, to make people scared because as long as they can keep people scared then they can get more money and the police and the MI5 have their own agenda which is often separate from people in government. There might be people in government who want to eradicate terrorism and they might actually feel that way and maybe there are people in the police and MI5 who feel the same way aswell but there are also other people who are generally are just in this to make money and terrorism equals money.

What advice would you give to the muslim community regarding how it should interact with the government? I know that you know, you said that basically a no no to the intelligence but you know the government and the police how should we interact with the authority because you know, we are citizens and we are a community living in the UK?

Yeh I mean of course we’re a minority in this country and we should be good citizens, we should obey the law, we shouldn’t do anything wrong, we shouldn’t I mean I’m against terrorism, I am 100% against terrorism, we live in this country and if we choose to live in this country we accept the rules of this country and we accept the fact that we’re a minority here we don’t run the place and so therefore muslims should be good citixzens here we should interact with our neighbours with non-muslims and you know I’m all for that but at the same time I think that the governments agenda when it comes to terrorism is so compromised and so ideological that I I think any muslim organisation which takes money from the government is asking for trouble really because we’re just going to become pawns in a game that we don’t understand so I would say what one law is is no money from government, muslim organisations should not be taking any money from government, ummm individuals we should not have any contact with MI5, if MI5 approach you then you should know your rights you should not have conversation with them off the record for example because they are experts at getting information out of you and make you incriminate yourself and they can blackmail you. You should ask for lawyer straight away and you should talk to them in the presence of a lawyer otherwise don’t talk to them at all. What else yeh I mean as also as a community we need to unite and the thing is we are a very divided community, we’re divided on sectarian lines you know we’re either salafis or Sufis or shia, we’re divided on ethnic lines such as Pakistanis or whatever and we’re just you know a complete joke in terms of unity and if we don’t unify then they will be able to pick us off very easy and I think the muslim community should come together and form a coordinated response to whats happening. They are basically being targeted, they are basically under attack and they have no answer about it and even if they do know they’re like passive victims but they don’t have to be passive victims they should tell the authorities that this is unacceptable, they wont stand for it, I don’t personally have all the answers, I don’t know what to do for A to Z but I fo know that we need to come together and sort this out as a community and decide on some kind of cohesive response otherwise we’re just going to picked off and we’re going to be victims and I personally don’t want to be a victim and mizan theres onwe other thing that I wanted to say that you haven’t aswked me but I remember it was in one of the questions that you wrote down that I had a look at and that is how I came to this documentary in the first place? I basically came to it in the case of Munir Farooqi in Manchester, ummm which I hope you can highlight because if you go to http://www.savethefamilyhome.com you’ll find the website there it gives you the complete information about this guys case and he was basically subject to under cover surveillance by two cops over the period of a year and they pretended to convert to islam and after they converted they started asking quesions about Jihad, politics and Afghanistan and they filmed this guy and secretly recorded what he saif for over a year and because of the few words that he said about “perhaps noe day we’ll go to Afghanistan and we might do something” he was convicted for 18 years and it smacked me when I visited the family the case smacked me of entrapment you know there was no plan of going to Afghanistan, there was no plot but just because of the few words that he said off the cuff or angry or whatever he was banged up and he is in prison now for 18 years so to me that is not catching terrorists that is entrapping people. So I hope that on your blog you can highlight this case of Munir Farooqi because its probably the most shocking case of entrapment that’s happened in this country perhaps ever you know and they are appealing the judgment at this moment in time aswell.