The Met has defended its decision to prevent a Muslim police officer from guarding diplomats because he failed to pass a counter-terrorism check. A statement says that the decision is, "entirely proportionate, defendable and justified" and, "The level of vetting increases according to the sensitivity of the roles that officers and staff have to perform."
The officer failed because he had sent his children to be taught at a mosque whose cleric has links to terrorism. That mosque is the Broad Street Mosque in Swindon. Today, Azim Khan, secretary of that Mosque, said that the Imam in question had left three years ago and niether he nor the mosque had any connections to terrorism. He also mentioned that the officer had been on the committee of the mosque and declared:
We made a policy about six years ago not to allow anybody into our community who stands for inter-community hatred and we have no association or affiliation with any groups around the country.Not quite true, his mosque is a member of the Swindon Stop the War Coalition. Furthermore, neither he nor his mosque are entirely moderate either. In regards to the Pope's recent comments, Mr Khan said that his comments were certainly in reference to terrorism and therefore the Pope should say "that he wants forgiveness for what he said."
During a meeting with the local MP discussing extremism he declared, "What we want is for justice for the third world, for the Palestinians and Iraqis. The UK needs to distance itself from the imperialism of the Americans."
Finally, his mosque organised a lesson for the local council on the true meaning of jihad. AT that meeting they said, "The people who bombed London and the Twin Towers are not Muslims."
And presumably if Islamic terrorists aren't Muslims then no Muslims need to tackle extremism and certainly don't need to take any responsibility for their actions.
If this is the kind of company that this police officer actively seeks out, it is little wonder that he doesn't pass a counter-terrorism check. While they may not be advocating murder they do not seem to be totally moderate and harmless.
UPDATE: More details are emerging and those involved are backtracking. The group that the Imam had links with is called Sipah-e-Sahaba, a Pakistani group believed to be a formal member of Al Qaeda. The Imam is associated with the group and held meetings with its members in Pakistan.
Yesterday, Azim Khan denied that the Imam had any connections with terror. Then a source from the mosque confirmed he did:
There was an imam here who was forced to step down because the other imams did not approve of his association with Sipah-e-Sahaba, which is a movement in Pakistan meaning Army of Companions. The imam went to madrassas in Pakistan in the 1980s and met this group, which is banned there. If Pakistan has banned a group, you know it's bad.And then Mr Khan himself had to change his story somewhat, admitting that there had been problems in the Mosque but claiming that they had nothing to do with terrorism. It certainly seems that there is much more to this than was first revealed.