Back in 2009, I went into the Finsbury Park Mosque, and was met by a kindly young man who began earnestly trying to convert me to Islam. I asked him about the “trouble” they had had at the mosque earlier, referring to the leadership of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the former imam of the Finsbury Park Mosque, who is now in prison in the U.S. for trying to set up an al-Qaeda training camp in Bly, Oregon. The young man assured me that they had had some trouble in the past, yes, but they were all moderates there now. This was repeated some time ago when the Finsbury Park Mosque was in the news after a van drove into pedestrians there — the establishment media assured us that the Finsbury Park Mosque was now the very model of Muslim moderation. Well, not so much.
“Leader at Finsbury Park Mosque is a ruling member of banned terrorist group Hamas’s political wing,” by Richard Spillett, MailOnline, November 7, 2017:
A trustee at one of London’s best-known mosques is a senior member of ‘terrorist organisation’ Hamas’s political wing, it was reported this morning.
Mohammed Sawalha holds the role of trustee at Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, which was formerly linked to extremism but which insists it has since undergone an ‘complete overhaul’.
It emerged today that Mr Sawalha represented the militant Palestinian organisation Hamas at recent talks in Moscow.
Sawalha, who lives in London, was appointed a trustee of the mosque in 2010 and is legally responsible for overseeing the mosque’s management, The Times reported today.
He was one of five senior figures from the Islamist organisation who were sent to Moscow in September, where they met Russia’s deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov and other Kremlin officials.
One of the group told Middle East news website Al-Monitor that the meeting between Hamas and top Russian officials was ‘an important milestone’
The delegate added: ‘Russia is a great power, at a time when the United States wants Hamas to be labeled as a terrorist group and be isolated.’
The UK only designates Hamas’s military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, as a terrorist organisation, not the political wing, meaning Mr Sawalha has broken no rules.
But his prominence at the north London mosque may unsettle some who are concerned about the organisation’s reach in the UK.
The mosque has been visited many times by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was previously criticised for describing Hamas as ‘friends’. He later said he regretted using the term….
Of course he did. Because he got caught.