Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 July 2020

UK campaigner investigated over praise for dead Iranian commander Suleimani

Police investigate after London centre's candlelit vigil earns rebuke from charity regulators

Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for Qassem Suleimani in his home town of Kerman in January. AFP
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for Qassem Suleimani in his home town of Kerman in January. AFP

British police are investigating whether the founder of a human rights group broke terrorism laws by praising Iranian general Qassem Suleimani after his death in a US drone strike.

The National reported last week that charity regulators censured an Islamic centre that hosted the candlelit event on January 3 to mourn Suleimani, who was killed that day in an air strike in Baghdad.

The rebuke came after Massoud Shadjareh, the founder of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), told crowds outside the London centre that “we aspire to be like him”.

Charity regulators did not identify Mr Shadjareh but said a speaker at the event appeared to break the law in his address outside the Islamic Centre of England under legislation that makes it an offence to glorify terrorism.

Suleimani was subject to UK sanctions for terrorism and terrorist funding since 2011.

After the rebuke by regulators, London’s Metropolitan Police said it was continuing to investigate whether the speaker broke any laws.

“The Met is aware that the Charity Commission has issued a warning to the Islamic Centre of England, dated June 10, 2020," the force said.

“It is aware that within the warning, the Charity Commission references that 'an individual who had not been authorised to speak by the charity may have committed an offence under section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006'.

“The Met Police Counter Terrorism Command is assessing whether any criminal offences may have been committed."

Mr Shadjareh, an outspoken supporter of Iran’s leadership, was not authorised to speak at the event but trustees failed to stop him.

He credited Suleimani with bringing stability to Iraq and defeating ISIS.

Last year, London think tank the Henry Jackson Society called for a police investigation into the IHRC, claiming it had been permeated at “every level” by extremism, support for overseas terrorist groups and extreme anti-Semitism.

No one at the IHRC was available for comment on Sunday.

Updated: June 29, 2020 01:36 AM

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