17 January 2016

Inquiry into foreign backers of UK extremists gets green light

David Cameron has authorised an investigation into the foreign funding and support of jihadi and extremist groups in the UK, a development that could lead to a potential standoff with the government’s key Gulf ally Saudi Arabia.

Political pressure on Cameron to investigate extremist revenue streams in the UK has come from the Liberal Democrats who requested the inquiry in exchange for supporting the extension into Syria of British airstrikes against Islamic State.

The Home Office’s new extremism analysis unit has been directed by Downing Street to specifically examine the scale and origin of funding of extremist groups in the UK with a remit to follow overseas funding streams. Home Office sources would not give details on the level of resources which will be assigned to the inquiry. Its findings will be sent directly to the home secretary Theresa May and Downing Street this spring.

The Gulf kingdom has repeatedly been accused of funding mosques and groups with links to Islamist terrorism in the west. Last month Angela Merkel’s deputy, Sigmar Gabriel, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the Saudi regime posed a danger to public security through its support for Wahhabi mosques around the world. Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia, has been identified by the European parliament as a driver of global terrorism. [The Guardian] Read more