Who is the government funding? Mustafa Field: a Shia case study

Journalist Nargess Moballeghi investigates the work of Mustafa Field, who has implemented several government-funded counter-terrorism initiatives, especially in the Shia community.

The government is funding a network of Muslim individuals and organisations to facilitate its objectives within its “Counter-Extremism” strategy which focuses on “radicalisation” as “opposition” to British Values. Prevent is now at the heart of that strategy.

Many Muslim individuals and organisations, including several high profile ones in the Shia community, are heavily involved in this strategy and receive Prevent funding, including Mustafa Field.

Mustafa Field is a British-Iraqi. He is the son of Kamal “Al Basri” Field who worked under Paul Bremer in the US-led interim government in Iraq. Kamal is the son of a White British soldier who fought in the Mesopotamian campaign of WW1, but who stayed on and made roots in Iraq.

Mustafa Field studied a BSc in Statistical and Operation Research at the University of Westminster and went on to work in local government and politics. Field received and accepted an MBE from the Queen in 2012, becoming a “Member of the most excellent order of the British Empire”.

Field’s Network of Organisations

Field runs, works in, works with or is heavily associated with a network of government founded or funded organisations.

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With local government he has worked under his family-run organisation the International Centre for Integration & Cohesion (ICIC) – an organisation that he now manages.

He is a fellow at the John Smith Trust, an initiative to “nurture a new generation of leaders” that is funded and supported by the UK Foreign Office.

He is Director of Faiths Forum for London, an organisation created with Conservative MP Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London. Patrons of Faith Forum of London include”

Mustafa Field has also founded and operates IntegrityUK, which provides “…bespoke security reports; daily MENA analysis and current CVE research [to] government institutions.”

CVE, or “Countering Violent Extremism” is the government term for their policy to stop “radicalisation” in Muslim communities, including the controversial Prevent Duty; a policy that has been called Institutionally Islamophobic.

IntegrityUK also has “a media hub that produces counter-extremist narratives and promotes legitimate voices from the Islamic and Arab World” and has a “multi-pronged approach to countering violent extremism both domestically and in the MENA region. The IntegirtyUK website states that it is a “unit within the International Centre for Integration & Cohesion”

2016 Prevent funding

Mustafa Field is known to have received Prevent money. Well-placed sources informed me that through IntegrityUK, Mustafa Field received a six-figure government Prevent budget just before Muharram 2016.

I was told the he had claimed the objective of this funding was to introduce the idea of “radicalisation” into the Shia community, highlight and isolate groups that the State want to be seen as “radical” and nurture relationships with key leadership voices to promote and give legitimacy to the idea of a “radicalisation problem” within the Shia community. Mustafa Field did not respond to my request for comment on this claim.

That he did receiving new funding at that time has since been published in government documentation.

“Building A Stronger Britain Together” is a new government programme under its Counter-Extremism Strategy launched in September 2016. The programme allows organisations that “share the governments’ aims…to bid for in-kind support and grant funding for specific programs that deliver goals set out in the Counter Extremism Strategy.” These grants are “targeted funding for specific projects with demonstrable outcomes which provide a positive alternative to extremist voices.”

In February 2018 the government published a list of the organisations that were successful in 2016 and have since been receiving this funding. Mustafa Field’s ICIC is on the list.

IntegrityUK is the ICIC unit that is implementing this. Its own online literature admits that its role is to create a narrative about “extremism,” promote those who they believe have a “legitimate voice” and send reports to government.

There are also other organisations that Field operates or works with. Most of them, including ICIC, Integrity UK and Faith Forums, are either located or registered at “C Hub”.

C Hub– or Collaboration House – is a part of Maurice Ostro OBE’s Fayre Share Foundation. As the website explains,“one of Fayre Share Foundation’s founding aims has been to foster collaboration amongst charities that have similar objectives to deliver the greatest impact. Building on the foundation’s work funding the Mayor’s interfaith conferences…the foundation was instrumental in creating the Faiths Forum for London.“The space sets out to create a new ecosystem…including a media hub to develop new ways of reaching young people”.

Government projects to train and influence mosques

Also through the Ostro Foundation, Mustafa Field is Programme Director of the “Strengthening Faith Institutions” (SFI), a £200,000 a year government project launched in 2015. Thisextensive government specification of the project explains that it is part of the “Government Integration Project” and that it will be expected to contribute to three of its key themes including a robust response to threats by providing training and “best practise” to mosques.

The specifications say that SFI will have to demonstrate its success to the government to continue its funding beyond two years. Its funding is still currently in place.

The SFI website explains how they are implementing the government’s specifications –  “once your organisation has joined the SFI network, our regional consultant will set-up a meeting with your senior management team to create a bespoke health-check and action plan…and provide a course of focused training for your leadership team, trustees and members in core areas of safeguarding, security, funding and other areas of need.”

It goes on to advocate government funding:

“Did you know that your…Mosque…is entitled to mainstream funding?  Are you aware that you need certain governance, safeguarding, and other policies in place to access mainstream funding?…We can help you apply for funding by making sure you have the right governance and foundations to apply.

“Your individualised action plan will serve to maximise your organisational objectives and provide a course of focused training for your leadership team, trustees, and members in core areas of safeguarding, security, governance, funding and other areas of need. This package worth £1,500, offered for free to faith institutions”

There is no list of mosques that have received this government-funded consultancy, but we do know that Field is a senior member of the operation and that this isn’t the first government project aimed at influencing mosque infrastructure that he has been involved in.

The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) was launched in 2006 after the 7/7 London bombing by a then Labour government whose “ministers set up MINAB. The aim of the body is to increase the leadership skills of imams and advise mosques on how to avoid being used by extremists”.

It was a part of a British political consensus at the time, that “how to combat violent extremism can be summed up in three words: reform the mosques.”In fact, in the government’s 2009 CONTEST strategy “MINAB is specifically singled out for mention twice as an integral part of the government’s efforts to counter violent extremism.”

Though MINAB tried to profess independence, freedom of information requests confirmed that it was significantly government funded, and ran by organisations that were government funded. Mustafa Field was the director of MINAB 2010-2013 and has since been an advisor to the government-funded organisation.

The overall strategy is a multi-pronged approach – to suffocate and silence activist voices (predominantly anti-government, anti-Islamophobia and pro-Palestinian voices) by having Muslim faces and pro-Zionist voices working together in the state’s interfaith apparatus, like Mustafa Field’s organisation “Faith Forums of London.”

Helping to label as “radical,” activist and conservative voices through state policy and legislation through CVE funding of organisations like Mustafa Field’s IntegrityUK, and targeting mosque leadership directly via organisations like Mustafa Field’s SFI and MINAB.

As a primary figure of this network in the Shia community, Mustafa Field is deeply imbedded in the State strategy against Muslims, and is working with the government on multiple fronts to achieve their aims.

Mustafa Field has been contacted multiple times to be made aware that these articles are being published and of their content to be given a fair opportunity to respond, with a promise that any response would be published in full. He has not responded to these requests for comment.

This article first appeared on Nargess Moballeghi’s personal website.

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