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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Sheffield terror raid at Qatar-linked centre

Funding for city mosque came from proscribed Qatar Charity

The word “Sheffield” sits in the entrance gates to a Sheffield steel mill. Oli Scarff / AFP
The word “Sheffield” sits in the entrance gates to a Sheffield steel mill. Oli Scarff / AFP

A British police operation to foil a suspected bomb plot by Islamist extremists ahead of the Christmas break targeted a community centre with ties to Qatar-run charity.

The raid on the Fatima Community Centre in Sheffield was part of a wider swoop for evidence at a series of homes and gathering places in northern England on Tuesday. The Fatima centre is run by the Muslim Association of Britain, which has been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The city's Emaan Trust has attracted substantial financial support for construction of a mosque in Sheffield from Qatar Charity UK (QCUK), an arm of the Qatari body that has been proscribed within the Arab Quartet, for links to terrorism.

An army bomb disposal team was sent to a house in northern England after police arrested four men on Tuesday on suspicion of planning acts of terrorism. Reports said police fear two explosive devices were being prepared to explode at popular Christmas markets. Three men, aged 22, 36 and 41, were held after raids at their homes in Sheffield and a 31-year-old was detained at an address in Chesterfield, a town west of the city.

“The arrests were intelligence-led and pre-planned as part of an ongoing investigation by Counter Terrorism Policing North East and (domestic security agency) MI5,” West Yorkshire Police said. “The public may have heard loud bangs at the time police entered the properties. We would like to reassure them that this was part of the method of entry to gain access.”

Police said the bomb disposal unit had been sent to the Chesterfield house and that nearby residents had been evacuated as a precaution. The suspects, including a Syrian national, were being questioned on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Britain has suffered five terror attacks so far this year, four of which led to loss of life, while security chiefs say another nine have been thwarted.

The country remains on its second-highest threat level meaning an attack is considered highly likely.

The National reported earlier this year that QCUK provided a grant of £400,000 (Dh1.96 million) for a “multipurpose centre in the UK” to the Emaan Trust in Sheffield.

Abderak Bougara, a trustee of the Muslim Association of Britain and the Emaan Trust, said one of the arrested men worked at the centre. "They have arrested four people. One of them worked there and others went there," he told The Times.

Concerns over the views held by Emaan Trust office holders have been known for some time. One of the trustees of the Emaan Trust, Essam Al Fulajii, has said Muslims and Christians should unite against the “monster” Jews, and claimed that he is “still convinced that the international Zionists and Mossad were behind the September 11 attacks.”

Its honorary chairman, Dr Khalid Al-Mathkour, is “a member of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood’s charitable arm, the Social Reform Society” and “follows the Brotherhood’s ideology”, according to one research report.

Yousef bin Ahmed Al Kuwari is listed as the chief executive of Qatar Charity UK (QCUK) at Companies House and as chairman on the Qatar Charity website. Accounts filed to the Charity Commission — the body that regulates registered charities — show that 99 per cent of the charity’s money comes from its parent organisation in Doha.

Mr Kuwari has also linked to Islamweb.net, which is sponsored by the Qatari Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs. He was head of information technology, according to an official biography given when he spoke at a Corporate Social Responsibility summit in Qatar.

Islamweb says it is "a site designed to enrich the viewers' knowledge and appreciation of Islam", and is used by British citizens "seeking religious guidance on a range of issues." But it also espouses extreme views on such issues as integration into British society. In June, the website said of Jews and Christians: "It is incumbent to hate them for the sake of Allah."

In response to a query about whether Muslims should sign an oath of allegiance when becoming a UK citizen, it says: “There is no doubt that a person who accepts the naturalisation of disbelieving countries commits many religious infractions. Among these infractions is to utter what is not permissible to believe in or abide by, like accepting their regime which is totally different from Islam, and uttering an oath to be loyal and friendly with them.”

QCUK also has links with preachers who have been banned in the UK. Accounts show that it donated £800,000 (Dh3.9 million) to the European Institute for Human Sciences (IESH) in France. The IESH publishes fatwas following the guidance of the European Council on Fatwa and Research. The president of the Council is Yousef Al Qaradawi, a Qatari hate preacher who has been banned from the UK.

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