London

'Mosque's terror links' investigated by Charity Commission

An east London mosque is being investigated by the Charity Commission over potential links to terrorist and extremist groups.

In a letter seen by BBC London, the commission says it is beginning a statutory inquiry into the Masjid-al-Tawhid mosque in Leyton.

It comes as liberal Imam Dr Usama Hasan resigned from the mosque following death threats for teaching about evolution and women's rights.

The mosque has declined to comment.

In the letter, the Charity Commission states the investigation will look at whether the Masjid-al-Tawhid Trust "allowed individuals with potential links to terrorist organisations to use the charity to promote and/or express extremist views; and/or the trustees have taken appropriate steps to safeguard the reputation of the charity."

Number of complaints

The commission said it would not comment on an ongoing investigation but it is understood the inquiry is the result of a number of complaints about the mosque.

BBC London has previously reported on the abuse received by Dr Hasan, who served as an Imam there for more than 25 years.

Some fundamental Muslims have been calling for his resignation for years because of his teachings about Islam being compatible with evolution and a woman's right not to wear a hijab.

Dr Hasan said after bringing in an arbiter to settle the dispute, he reached an agreement with the mosque that he would resign on the condition two other trustees also did.

Part of the agreement means he cannot speak to the media in a negative context about the mosque.

Serious allegations

"There is a danger of Muslim extremism in general, so yes there is a danger of it at the mosque," he said.

"Unfortunately they are serious allegations because some individuals with extremist and terrorist views slipped into the mosque over the years and preached there.

"For the mosque to be closed down or withdrawn from the charity would be an absolute disaster."

He alleges that in 1998, supporters of radical cleric Abu Qatada organised for him to visit and hold a study session at the mosque.

He also claims that in 2003 radical Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a key al-Qaeda leader who was killed in Yemen last year, spoke several times at Masjid-al-Tawhid.

BBC London has repeatedly asked the Masjid-al-Tawhid mosque to comment but it has not done so.

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