US accused mosques of extremist connections

IRELAND’S two main mosques have strongly criticised allegations in leaked cables from the US Embassy in Dublin to Washington.

The cables, dating from July 2006, strongly linked the biggest mosque, the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI), to the conservative Muslim Brotherhood, which is headed by the controversial cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

The cables published by WikiLeaks said a second mosque, the Islamic Foundation of Ireland (IFI), was seen as “extremist”.

It said this mosque was known by some local Muslims as “Tora Bora” — in reference to the Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan and once suspected hide-out of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden — due to the “high concentration of Afghan and Bosnian jihadists who frequent it”.

Dublin embassy officials compiled the dossier in response to questions from the US State Department regarding a Dublin-based Islamic body, the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) and influential Muslim leaders in Ireland.

The cable closely links the ICCI, and its imam, Shaykh Hussein Muhammad Halawa, to ECFR, which it said was based in the ICCI, in Clonskeagh, south Dublin.

The cable cited unnamed individuals as claiming that the ICCI answered to Mr al-Qaradawi.

It also claimed that despite Imam Halawa’s public criticism of the London bombings of 2005 the ICCI employed as a religious teacher Abderrahmane Katrani, an Afghanistan veteran and Moroccan national wanted by the Government of Morocco for the 2003 Casablanca bombings.

In a statement, an ICCI spokesman said the ECFR and the ICCI were “two independent organisations”. He confirmed the imam was the current secretary general of the ECFR.

He said the ECFR was an “Islamic theological body” that discussed issues such as coexistence of Muslims in Europe. The spokesman said the ICCI was formed “to encourage Muslims’ positive integration in Ireland”.

He said Mr al-Qatrani was “never employed” by the ICCI or its adjacent school.

He said Imam Halawa and his secretary Ali Selim “never said that they belong to any group and that it has never been noticed that they promote certain ideologies”.

Imam Yayha Al Hussein of the IFI, or the South Circular Road Mosque, rejected the extremist claims.

He said they were one of the few mosques that had an “open policy” and that the council that ran the mosque was democratically elected. He said the mosque was “completely independent and not answerable to anyone abroad”.

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