A UK-based bank controlled by Qatari authorities has financed several British organisations linked to Islamists, a report in The Times has confirmed.
Some of Al Rayan Bank’s clients have had their accounts with western banks frozen or closed in a security clampdown.
Al Rayan counts among its customers a charity banned in the US as a terrorist entity, groups that promote extremist preachers and a mosque linked to a Hamas leader.
About Al Rayan
Al Rayan, Britain’s oldest and largest Islamic bank, has its headquarters in Birmingham and provides Sharia-compliant retail banking services to more than 85,000 customers. Its Knightsbridge branch is directly opposite Harrods.
The bank’s controlling shareholders are institutions of the Qatari state. One of its directors, Adel Mustafawi, is the vice-chairman of the French football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
Four groups that bank with Al Rayan are under investigation by the Charity Commission; two were the subject of recent Ofcom inquiries. Other account- holders are British organisations closely aligned to the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al Rayan meets all regulatory and legal requirements to operate as a British bank, and 15 controversial Islamic organisations to which it provides banking facilities are all lawfully entitled to operate in Britain. However, at least four — a mosque and three charities — have had accounts closed by banks including HSBC, Barclays, NatWest and Lloyds TSB.
Al Rayan’s customers include:
• Islamic Forum Trust, the charitable wing of a movement that seeks to create an Islamic political and social order in Europe by overturning “the very infrastructure of society”;
• The funding arm of Peace TV, a satellite channel led by an Indian hate preacher banned from Britain after he said “all Muslims should be terrorists”;
• Finsbury Park Mosque, one of whose trustees from 2005 until last year was a ruling member of Hamas and is said to have directed terrorism in the West Bank. The mosque says it is a British charity and has no relationship with Hamas.
Accounts are also held by Interpal, a charity banned in America since 2003 for alleged funding links to Hamas, which it has always denied, and Hhugs, which formerly described itself as a sister organisation of Cage, the notorious Islamist advocacy group.
Another Al Rayan customer is Nectar Trust, recipient since 2014 of more than £37 million from a Qatar-based charity that, like the Brotherhood, has been outlawed by Saudi Arabia and its allies as a designated terrorist organisation.
Money transferred from Nectar Trust via its Al Rayan account was allegedly used to fund multimillion-pound Brotherhood-linked projects in Britain and France, according to a recent investigation by French journalists. The trust told The Times that it undertook “appropriate due diligence” on every organisation it funded; none was Islamist-affiliated. Its Qatari parent charity worked closely with UN agencies and was a “leading global player in humanitarian assistance”.
Sir John Jenkins, a former ambassador to several countries in the Middle East, accused Qatar yesterday of “systematically promoting Islamist causes, including in the UK”. A Tory MP said that he would raise the matter with the home secretary “as a matter of urgency”.
Before his appointment last week as a junior minister, the Tory MP Zac Goldsmith said that Qatar’s “shameful” backing of extremists in the Middle East was well documented.
“If it is also using its considerable wealth and global reach to facilitate extremism here in the UK, then the government needs to act quickly and decisively. The fact that Qatar has invested so heavily in the UK should not insulate it from scrutiny,” he said.
Sir John, a former ambassador to Syria, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia, said that Qatar’s support for Brotherhood-aligned causes had made it easier for Islamist language and discourse to “become normalised” in the UK.
He added: “Islamism is a revolutionary ideology that is opposed to the fundamental principles of a liberal state. Its presence in Britain is one of the major challenges of our time.”
Doha’s support for the Brotherhood and its alleged funding of terrorism were cited when Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in 2017 implemented an economic blockade of the Gulf state that remains in place.
Qatar, which has only 300,000 citizens, is better known in the West for buying PSG and its winning bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
Its wealth has also been invested in landmark western properties.
In London it owns Harrods, the Shard and several luxury hotels.