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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Qatar and Turkey support for Brotherhood is promoting division within Muslim communities, says British army officer

Col Tim Collins claimed countries such as Britain suffer as groups used states' funding to undermine social harmony

The Muslim Brotherhood  was diverse but harboured an instinct for subterfuge and pursued hidden agendas, said Colonel Collins. Belal Darder/AP Photo
The Muslim Brotherhood was diverse but harboured an instinct for subterfuge and pursued hidden agendas, said Colonel Collins. Belal Darder/AP Photo

Support for the Muslim Brotherhood from Qatar and Turkey has promoted divisions within Muslim communities, a retired British army commander told the House of Commons.

European states such as Britain had suffered as Muslim Brotherhood groups undermined social harmony programmes such as the UK’s Prevent anti-radicalisation effort, according to Colonel Tim Collins.

In a briefing at the Commons, Col Collins cited payments of more than 125 million euros across Europe from Qatar to institutions that were strongly influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood. Included in this was more than 18 million euros that went to departments at Oxford University, including a body led by Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood founder.

Security sources expressed further concerns over figures involved in mosques that had attracted millions in donations from Sheikh Hamad, the retired emir of Qatar.

Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, was questioned about some of the concerns raised by Col Collins on Tuesday and told the House that officials were subjecting the group to greater scrutiny.

"In addition to looking at visa applications, we are also looking harder at its engagement in charities in this country," Mr Johnson said.

“It’s unacceptable and discordant,” Col Collins said. “I would urge the government of Qatar to end funding of Muslim Brotherhood as an act of friendship.”

The Brotherhood was diverse but harboured an instinct for subterfuge and pursued hidden agendas.

“It is a nebulous thing. It is hard to pin down, it’s almost a franchise, it’s almost like Islamic State itself,” he said. “It’s insidious. It’s permitted to lie.

“The threat of militant Islam is a threat to the civilised world,” Col Collins said. “We have an invisible defence in our country which is our Muslim citizens, and yet there is an organisation that would subvert these citizens.”

The British government conducted a wide-ranging inquiry into the Muslim Brotherhood, culminating in an unpublished 2015 report. The recommendations of its author, Sir John Jenkins, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, were not taken up by then prime minister David Cameron’s government.

“It’s regrettable that based on Sir John’s findings that much less has been done,” Col Collins said. “The group should not have the opportunity to engage with public representatives and it should be challenged vigorously and opposed where necessary.

“Its harmful ideology should be contained, mitigated and its threat to a harmonious society should be opposed.”

Col Collins gained fame after a British newspaper reprinted the 2003 speech he made on the eve of battle as troops under his command prepared to enter Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein.

The Belfast native, who has since worked as a development consultant in conflict zones like Afghanistan, was invited to the White House to meet George W Bush.

Among the versions of the speech given to 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, on 19 March, 2003 is one by the actor and director Kenneth Branagh.

From the opening, Col Collins told his men they entered Iraq to liberate, not to conquer.

“If you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory,” he said.

“Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham. Tread lightly there," he said.

Col Collins, the chairman of security company New Century Consulting, has also pursued a writing career and is an occasional columnist.