Saudi Arabia is 'at the top of the list' of countries exporting extremist Islam to the UK, according to a new Henry Jackson Society’s report. The Henry Jackson Society is a think tank and policy-shaping force that fights for the principles and alliances which keep societies free – working across borders and party lines to combat extremism, advance democracy and real human rights, and make a stand in an increasingly uncertain world.
The report claims there is a "clear and growing link" between Islamist organizations in receipt of overseas funds, hate preachers and Jihadist groups promoting violence. The Henry Jackson Society, a foreign affairs think-tank, called for a public inquiry into the role of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, BBC reported. The report's release comes at a time when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt are all accusing Qatar of supporting extremism - a charge the report says is hypocritical.
The Home Office report into the existence and influence of Jihadist organizations, commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015, has reportedly yet to be completed amid questions as to whether it will ever be published. BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said he understood the report was "largely finished and sitting on Theresa May's desk,” but there was probably a reluctance to publish it because of "embarrassing" content.
The Henry Jackson Society’s report says a number of Gulf nations, as well as Iran, are providing financial support to mosques and Islamic educational institutions which have played host to extremist preachers and been linked to the spread of extremist material. The report identifies the existence of what it calls 'an intentional and systematic policy' by these states to 'advance an illiberal and at times anti-Western version of the Islamic religion' in Western countries.
Britain has a close, long-standing and sometimes controversial relationship with Saudi Arabia. Annual bilateral trade is worth billions of pounds, UK exports to Saudi Arabia, notably in defense, employ thousands of people in both countries, and there is close co-operation on counter-terrorism. The alliance between UK and its Gulf Arab partners has economic and security benefits, according to Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The UK's Saudi Arabian embassy says the claims are "categorically false." In a statement, the Saudi embassy in London said any accusations that the kingdom had radicalized "a small number of individuals are baseless and lack credible evidence." It added: "We do not and will not condone the actions or ideology of violent extremism and we will not rest until these deviants and their organizations are destroyed." They also pointed out that the country has itself been subject to numerous attacks by al-Qaeda and so-called Islamic State.
Labor MP Dan Jarvis said: “This report from the Henry Jackson Society sheds light on what are extremely worrying links between Saudi Arabia and the funding of extremism here in the UK… I'm calling on the Government to release its foreign funding report, and guarantee that the new counter extremism commission will make tackling the funding of extremism a priority.”
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