On June 10 education watchdog Ofsted published a string of reports triggered by the so-called “Trojan Horse” letter alleging that there had been an Islamist takeover plot to take control of community schools in Birmingham.
Five Birmingham schools out of 21 inspected were downgraded to “inadequate” – Ofsted’s lowest rating – and placed in special measures, after what inspectors claimed was poor management and lack of attention to protecting pupils from what Ofsted called “an awareness of the risks arising from extremism”.
“Protecting our children is one of the first duties of government and that is why the issue of alleged Islamist extremism in Birmingham schools demands a robust response,” the prime minister said.
Education secretary Michael Gove said: “Evidence uncovered in Birmingham clearly indicates that schools have used the notice they have been given of inspections to evade proper scrutiny. Our children need to be protected in schools, kept safe from the dangers of extremism and guaranteed a broad and balanced curriculum. This change will help provide parents with the reassurance they need.”
One of the schools condemned by Ofsted includes the academically high-flying Park View school in Alum Rock, one of the Muslim-majority suburbs and areas of Birmingham. Previously rated as outstanding, Ofsted inspectors called its management and pupil safety inadequate.
In Birmingham the affair saw the formation of an organisation named Hands off Birmingham Schools, headed by the former Respect leader and city councillor Salma Yaqoob.
“We firmly believe these Ofsted reports are politically motivated. Our children have been subjected to deeply intrusive repeated Ofsted inspections whilst undergoing Sats and preparing for their GCSEs,” the group said in a statement.
Meanwhile in Colchester a man was arrested in connection with the death of a female Saudi student who was found with serious injuries on a footpath.
The woman died after being attacked and police said her full “Muslim dress” and veil may have been a factor.
The victim was a Saudi international student at the University of Essex, Nahid Al Manea, who had only recently come to the UK in pursuit of an education for a brighter future.
She was walking on the Salary Brook Trail when she was violently beaten. Paramedics tried to save her but she died at the scene from injuries to her head and body.
Essex Police said the woman, who was in her 30s, was wearing a dark navy blue full length robe (known as an Abaya) and a patterned multi-coloured Hijab headscarf.
Detective Superintendent Tracy Hawkings said officers were keeping an open mind about the motive of the attack.
Also in June the Home Office listed five Syrian rebel groups as “terrorist” organisations, including the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) who are leading the insurgency in Iraq.
The move came as the Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs that more than 400 Britons were currently fighting with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The government fears that some could return to Britain as experienced combatants ready to carry out terrorist attacks.
A Home Office proscription order approved by parliament made it illegal to be a member of or to provide support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIS.
Home Office officials said that the move was triggered by the jihadi organisation’s operations in Syria but developments in Iraq had underlined the need to ban the group in Britain.
The four other groups linked with Syria that were also banned in the UK were Turkish People’s Liberation Party (TPLP), Kateeba al-Kawthar, Abdallah Azzam Brigades, including the Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions; and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) General Command.
Security minister James Brokenshire said: “We condemn all acts of terrorism committed in Syria, where the conflict poses a growing threat to the UK, regional and international peace and security. Proscription is a useful weapon in the armoury at the disposal of the government, police and security service to disrupt terrorist activity and protect the UK.”
He added: “We want to send a strong message that terrorist activity is not tolerated wherever it happens.”
ISIS announces khilafa
On the international scene The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) announced in June the restoration of the Khilafah over the areas under its control.
In a video, Sheikh Abu Mohammed al-Adnani (a spokesman for ISIS) declared Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi as the khalifa and called upon all Muslims to give him bay’ah (pledge of allegiance).
According to the statement, the new caliphate stretches from Iraq’s Diyala province to Syria’s Aleppo.
An exert of the speech translated in English:
“Therefore, the shūrā (consultation) council of the Islamic State studied this matter after the Islamic State – by Allah’s grace – gained the essentials necessary for Khilafah, which the Muslims are sinful for if they do not try to establish.
In light of the fact that the Islamic State has no shar’ī (legal) constraint or excuse that can justify delaying or neglecting the establishment of the Khilafah such that it would not be sinful, the Islamic State – represented by ahlul-halli-wal-‘aqd (its people of authority), consisting of its senior figures, leaders, and the shura council – resolved to announce the establishment of the Islamic Khilafah, the appointment of a Khalifah for the Muslims, and the pledge of allegiance to the Sheikh, the Mujahid, the scholar who practices what he preaches, the worshipper, the leader, the warrior, the reviver, the descendent from the family of the Prophet, the slave of Allah, Ibrahim ibn Awwad ibn Ibrahim ibn Ali ibn Muhammad Al-Badri Al-Hashimi Al Husayni Al-Qurayshi by lineage, as-Samurrai by birth and upbringing, al-Baghdadi by residence and scholarship. And he has accepted the bay’ah (pledge of allegiance).
Thus, he is the imam and Khalifah for the Muslims everywhere. Accordingly, the “Iraq and Sham” in the name of the Islamic State is henceforth removed from all official deliberations and communications, and the official name is the Islamic State from the date of this declaration.”
Abu Qatada cleared
Meanwhile, Jordan’s state security court acquitted Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, who was extradited from Britain last year, of charges of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism.
But Qatada continued to be held because of separate charges related to a plot to attack tourists during Jordan’s New Year celebrations in 2000.
The preacher – who is seen as a spiritual guide to al Qaeda – had previously been sentenced in absentia by a Jordanian court to life imprisonment for conspiracy to carry out al Qaeda-style attacks against US and other targets inside US ally Jordan.
In December 2013 Abu Qatada’s lawyer called for his client’s release, saying his rights had been violated by the presence of the military judge in court and reliance on evidence that was extracted under torture from other defendants.
Linked by a Spanish judge to the late al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, Abu Qatada was in and out of jail in Britain since first being arrested in 2001. He was extradited to Jordan in July last year.
Jordanian security officials and experts on Islamist radical groups say Abu Qatada’s ideological writings have influenced many youths involved with al Qaeda.
Moreover, while Qatada has been incarcerated he has been issuing advice to al Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al Nusra, praising their “jihad” against Bashar al Assad and warning them against their rival jihadi group ISIS.
Opinion and analysis
Speaking to governors, teachers, pupils, parents, community representatives and council leaders in Birmingham, 5Pillars deputy editor Dilly Hussain said that the Trojan Horse plot was nothing but unsubstantiated lies driven by an anti-Muslim political agenda.
He wrote: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Gove used the Trojan Horse episode to further his own political agenda, a neo-conservative Islamophobic agenda with aspirations to take the Tory leadership via a plot of his own.
“A proud Zionist who dedicated a chapter entitled “Trojan Horse” in his 2006 book ‘Celsius 7/7′ discussing the rise of Islamism in the UK, the man who specifically requested 15 of the 21 Birmingham schools to be investigated, the opportunist who made the biggest racket over this lie can be the only individual who may know the origins of the Trojan Horse.
“If Muslims fail to protest over the origins of the Trojan Horse letter by allowing it to be brushed under the carpet (the way Cllr Bore did when he was confronted by former Birmingham councillor, Salma Yaqoob), we will be giving a green light for unsourced and unsubstantiated lies to be used to criminalise us in the future.”
Finally Abdullah al Andalusi said that ISIS had no right to declare their territory a caliphate
He said: “ISIS’s call to Caliphate, while a common Muslim sentiment, permits the Western media and the US to demonise and depict the concept of a Caliphate as a sectarian and deeply ignorant and brutal regime. For example, just two days ago, a Channel 4 program (UK television) depicted the recent gain of Mosul by ISIS under the banner “Sunni vs Shia – A new Caliphate.”
“And a large number of media sites have arisen discussing the ISIS + the ‘Caliphate’. This may be the media’s attempts to create a ‘phantom caliphate,’ an observation first proposed by professor Noman Hanif, which is essentially to damage the high esteem the concept held in the Muslim collective memory, and ultimately turn Muslims against it (and towards a secular system).
“ISIS are not a Caliphate, as they are not even a state, nor are they able to effectively rule and secure the lands and boundaries supposedly under their control. While many Muslims engage in political work to re-establish the Caliphate, and many more eagerly await its return – it would be unwise to pin hopes on an irregular militia that not only lack the resources to establish a state, but are strategically vulnerable too.”