A government review into the funding of “Islamist extremist activity” in the UK has found that the most common source of support is from small, anonymous public donations, with the majority of these most likely coming from UK-based individuals.
The review was commissioned by the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, in 2015, and was presented to Parliament today by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
However, Rudd did not release the report in full for “national security reasons” which has led to suspicions that the government is protecting its allies in The Gulf. The government also did not name the Muslim organisations that it considers to be extremist.
Other findings of the review were that:
- Some “Islamic organisations of extremist concern” portray themselves as charities to increase their credibility.
- There is some evidence of organisations of extremist concern seeking to avoid regulatory oversight.
- For a small number of organisations with which there are extremism concerns, overseas funding is a significant source of income. However, for the vast majority of extremist groups in the UK, overseas funding is not a significant source.
- Overseas support has allowed individuals to study at institutions that teach deeply conservative forms of Islam and provide highly socially conservative literature and preachers to the UK’s Islamic institutions. Some of these individuals have since become of extremist concern.
The Government said it would:
- Continue to deliver public awareness campaigns to encourage people to understand the full aims of the organisations that they give to.
- Raise awareness across the financial services sector and grant making trusts and foundations of extremism concerns.
- Strengthen its work with the Charity Commission, which includes addressing the abuse of charities for terrorist or extremist purposes as one of its strategic priorities. The Charity Commission will be introducing a requirement on charities to declare overseas funding sources.
Caroline Lucas MP, co-leader of the Green Party who has been pressing the government to release the full report, said the statement from Rudd was unacceptable.
“The statement gives absolutely no clue as to which countries foreign funding for extremism originates from – leaving the government open to further allegations of refusing to expose the role of Saudi Arabian money in terrorism in the UK,” she said.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the government should be naming and shaming “the perpetrators of vile ideologies” including “so-called allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”
“It seems like the government, yet again, is putting our so called friendship with Saudi Arabia above our values,” he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also said Britain needed to have “some difficult conversations” with its ally Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.