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Friends of Al-Aqsa leader participates in online conference including listed terrorist and Islamist figures

May 12, 2021


The head of the UK-based campaign group Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA), Ismail Patel, has appeared among the speakers at a recent online conference that included a number of extreme figures. Taking place on 9 May 2021, the conference titled The scholars’ speech to those steadfast in Al-Aqsa, was broadcast over Facebook and YouTube by the Palestine Scholars Association in the Diaspora. Coverage of the event by Donia Al Watanreported that Muthanna Harith Al-Dhari, head of the Political Department of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI), was one of those speaking at the conference. In 2010, Al-Dhari was listed by the UN Security Council under the Al-Qaeda sanctions list for providing financial support to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He is the son of the late Harith Al-Dhari; the former head of AMSI, known as ‘the Spiritual Leader of the Iraqi Resistance’(Insurgency), and designated by the US Treasury in 2008 for threatening the peace and stability of Iraq.

During the event, Patel opened by making reference to the “honoured guests and Imams on the platform,”before discussing Friends of Al-Aqsa’s role in arranging lobbying of MPs, while also telling the meeting how “we started a campaign against the media” in an effort to influence the coverage of recent events in the Middle East. In particular, Patel mentioned success in persuading the Guardian to change its headline, as well as ongoing efforts regarding the BBC.

In recent years, FOA has organised the annual Palestine Expo conference, which is usually held in London. When the conference was first launched in 2017, concerns over extremist links led to the prospect of the event being cancelled, with the Department for Housing, Communities, and Local Government writing to the organisers warning that the contract for the venue might be withdrawn. The 2017 conference did go ahead, however, and the Expo has continued to take place in the subsequent years.

According to the report from Donia Al Watan, along with Ismail Patel and Muthanna Harith Al-Dhari, other speakers at the recent online scholars event included:

  • Ali Al-Qaradaghi, Secretary-General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS). Notably, earlier in the year the IUMS issued a Fatwa mandating boycotts of the “Zionist state.” That declaration argued that the Sunnah indicates the necessity of “resisting the occupiers and waging war against the aggressors,” and stated that “economic Jihad” is included as part of the wider Jihad and fighting.
  • Nawwaf Takrouri (also spelt Takruri), Secretary General of the Palestine Scholars Association in the Diaspora. Takrouri is known to be the author of an influential book advocating the use of suicide bombings.
  • Hamam Sa’id, the former Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s General Comptroller who in recent years hasled the Global Coalition to support Jerusalem and Palestine.
  • Kamal Khatib, who has served as the Deputy Head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. The Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, headed by Raed Salah, has been banned in Israel for its Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood ties. According to the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, the three perpetrators of the deadly terrorist attack on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in July 2017 proclaimed during the attack: “We are from Sheikh Raed Salah’s people”. Policy Exchange previously reported the promotion of a hashtag by Risalat Al-Ikhwan (the London-based Muslim Brotherhood weekly bulletin), in support of Raed Salah, who has been banned from entering the UK and is currently serving a prison sentence on charges of inciting terrorism and membership of a proscribed group.

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