Report on foreign funded Islamist Extremism in the UK

The right-leaning, British, foreign-affairs think tank, the Henry Jackson Society, published a report on foreign funding of Islamist Extremism. The report is summarised below.

The UK government’s 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy acknowledged the role of foreign funding of Islamist extremism. In 2017, the UK formed a commission for countering extremism which did research on funding of extremism but has kept its findings secret, leading to a lack of publically available information.

Foreign funding to promote Islamic extremism in the UK has gone to religious institutions which host extremist preachers and distribute extremist literature. There is also concern about Islamist material in British independent (private) schools from the right-wing, Saudi, Salafi-Wahabi tradition.

Saudi Arabia has actively promoted its Wahabi version of Islam, including through providing funding to Muslims in Western countries. In the UK,  there are two major institutions that help distribute Wahabi ideas, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and the Muslim World League (MWL). Both organisations have hosted speakers affiliated with the controversial political organisation (sometimes labelled ‘terrorist group’), the Muslim Brotherhood. Bookshops linked to Saudi-funded mosques may also be distributing Salafist literature.

Full scholarships to the University of Medina encourage British young Muslims, hoping to become religious leaders, to go to this Wahabi institution instead of to South Asian seminaries.

The report concludes with a critique of British government policy. The UK is said to be doing less than other European countries, as reports of funding risks have not been published nor has there been a clear response to them. It is suggested that the UK could criminalise funding to certain institutions or funding from particular countries.

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