Up-and-coming Tory MP Michael Gove takes a look at what the Blair government has being doing in its quest to seize assets used in the financing of terrorist-related activities. Quite a bit, judging by comments from Blair’s finance minister (and likely successor) Gordon Brown, who has boasted about “the most comprehensive and expeditious asset freeze the Treasury has ever undertaken”.
Um, how much is that, asks Gove, who then goes on to answer his own question:
The true figure… amounts to only £476,000 since 2002. That figure compares with some $200 million frozen by the American authorities. The Treasury’s effort is tiny by comparison. Its dragnet has caught minnows, not sharks. It has also had significant holes in it. As my hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs. Villiers) pointed out, Abu Hamza—now, happily, convicted of terrorist offences—whose assets were supposed to have been frozen, was able to transfer ownership of his home to his son, allowing his family to play the property market. How could Abu Hamza do that? It was because of a loophole that the Government had failed to address. The initial order, introduced in 2001, froze only funds, not assets. No change was made in that order until last month, just as the news of Abu Hamza’s situation was breaking in the newspapers. The loophole existed for four years and allowed someone convicted of terrorist offences to play the property market with public money.
Blair may talk a good game on Islamic extremism, but, domestically at least, talking is mostly what he does.
Gove then notes this:
To be fair to the Government, two charities have been interdicted following action by the Treasury: Sanabel and al-Haramain. Those two charities are significant, because both are Saudi-based. In the United States Senate, the senior senator for New York, the democrat Charles Schumer, pointed out that Saudi-sponsored activity was responsible for the hijacking of moderate Islam and the spread of fundamentalist doctrine in schools, mosques and prisons….There are some 1,600 mosques in Britain, most of them exemplary houses of instruction that provide spiritual nourishment to our fellow citizens, and that teach them in a tradition that all of us would think admirable. However, there are mosques—some with direct relationships with Saudi Arabia—that do not cleave to the moderate mainstream path taken by the majority of British Muslims. I shall mention two of them. One subject of concern is the East London mosque, which is one of the largest in Britain. Its president, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari, is the chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain, but the speaker invited to open the mosque, Sheikh al-Sudais, had preached sermons in his native Saudi Arabia in which he described Jewish people as pigs and monkeys. He has called Hindus idol-worshippers to whom it would be wrong to speak sweetly.
Saudi Arabia, always Saudi Arabia.
Hat-tip: Conservative Home