Government criticised for refusing to publish report into funding of extremist groups
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The UK government has been criticised for refusing to publish a Home Office report on "the nature, scale and origin of the funding of Islamist extremist activity in the UK, including any overseas sources."
Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said in a written statement to parliament that the report would not be published "because of the volume of personal information it contains and for national security reasons."
Certain MPs - members of the Privcy Council, an archaic government body - will be able to view the report in private, but will not be allowed to discuss what they have learnt in public.
In her statement, Rudd says that the government is "strengthening [its] work with the Charity Commission" - the body responsible for regulating charitable groups in the UK - including by "addressing the abuse of charities for terrorist or extremist purposes as one of its strategic priorities."
The statement also says that "The Charity Commission will be introducing a requirement on charities to declare overseas funding sources."
Opposition politicians have accused the government of attempting to hide information that would damage allied states such as Saudi Arabia, which has long been accused of funding extremist groups beyond its borders.
Caroline Lucas of the Green Party said:
"The statement gives absolutely no clue as to which countries foreign funding for extremism originates from - leaving the government open to further allegations of refusing to expose the role of Saudi Arabian money in terrorism in the UK."
Diane Abbott, the shadow Home Secretary, said:
"There is a strong suspicion this report is being suppressed to protect this government's trade and diplomatic priorities, including in relation to Saudi Arabia. The only way to allay those suspicions is to publish the report in full."
Government criticised over 'suppressed' extremist report (BBC News, link)
UK residents donate thousands of pounds a year to Islamist extremist organisations, Home Office reveals (The Independent, link)
UK 'must investigate' Saudi Arabia's links to British extremism (International Business Times, link)
Written statement by Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, to the houses of parliament (HCWS39), 12 July 2017
I am today announcing the main findings of the Home Offices internal review into the nature, scale and origin of the funding of Islamist extremist activity in the UK, including any overseas sources. The review was commissioned by the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, on 30 November 2015. It gives us the best picture we have ever had of how extremists operating in the UK sustain their activities. The review did not include either the funding of terrorism (which is a better understood area) or funding of extremism overseas from UK sources.
Having taken advice, I have decided against publishing the classified report produced during the review in full. This is because of the volume of personal information it contains and for national security reasons. We will be inviting privy councillors from the opposition parties to the Home Office to have access to classified report on privy council terms.
The main finding of the review is as follows:
i. The most common source of support for Islamist extremist organisations in the UK is from small, anonymous public donations, with the majority of these donations most likely coming from UK-based individuals. In some cases these organisations receive hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. This is the main source of their income. Those giving may not know or support the organisations full agenda.
The review also made the following findings:
ii. Some Islamic organisations of extremist concern portray themselves as charities to increase their credibility and to take advantage of Islams emphasis on charity. Some are purposefully vague about their activities and their charitable status.
iii. Regulation can be effective in improving transparency. There is some evidence of organisations of extremist concern seeking to avoid regulatory oversight.
iv. For a small number of organisations with which there are extremism concerns, overseas funding is a significant source of income. However, for the vast majority of extremist groups in the UK, overseas funding is not a significant source.
v. Overseas support has allowed individuals to study at institutions that teach deeply conservative forms of Islam and provide highly socially conservative literature and preachers to the UKs Islamic institutions. Some of these individuals have since become of extremist concern.
Fundamentally, no single measure will tackle all the issues of concern raised in the review. A comprehensive approach focused particularly on domestic sources of support for all forms of extremism is needed. The Government has looked carefully at the reviews findings and will build on existing work by:
- Continuing to deliver public awareness campaigns to encourage people to understand the full aims of the organisations that they give to, reducing the amount of funding organisations of extremist concern are able to raise from the public in the UK.
- Raising awareness across the financial services sector and grant making trusts and foundations of extremism concerns. These organisations have an interest in ensuring they are not inadvertently supporting extremist individuals or organisations.
- Reducing the ability of organisations of extremist concern to avoid official scrutiny by increasing the proportion of organisations subject to regulatory oversight. We are strengthening our work with the Charity Commission, which includes addressing the abuse of charities for terrorist or extremist purposes as one of its strategic priorities.
- The Charity Commission will be introducing a requirement on charities to declare overseas funding sources. The Commission has been discussing this issue with charities over recent months.
- Directly raising issues of concern, supported by evidence, with specific countries as part of our wider international engagement on countering extremism and violent extremism.
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