Andrew Gilligan, Telegraph, July 12, 2015
The Government watchdog which inspects police forces’ readiness for terrorism admitted that it employed one of Britain’s most notorious Islamic extremists.
For almost two years Abdullah al Andalusi, led a double life, the Telegraph can reveal.
By night, he taught that the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) was “no different to Western armies,” said that “kaffirs,” non-Muslims, would be “punished in hell” and claimed that the British government wanted to destroy Islam.
By day, using a different name, he went to work for the same British government at the London offices of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the official regulator of all 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The disclosures will be intensely embarassing to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who has criticised parts of Britain’s Muslim communities for “quietly condoning” Islamist extremism.
HMIC’s staff, who number less than 150, are given privileged access to highly sensitive and classified police and intelligence information to carry out their inspections.
The inspectorate’s work includes scrutinising police forces’ counter-terrorism capabilities and top-secret plans for dealing with terror attacks.
It has also recently published reports on undercover policing and the use of informants.
HMIC admitted that Mr al Andalusi, whose real name is Mouloud Farid, had passed a security vetting check to work as a civil servant at the inspectorate.
He was subsequently promoted to executive grade, a management rank, placing him at the heart of the security establishment.
He was only sacked after bosses spotted him on television defending extremist Islamic positions on behalf of his organisation, the Muslim Debate Initiative, which is heavily dependent on Saudi money.
The inspectorate insisted that he did not handle classified material but former friends of Mr al Andalusi said he had done so.
“His work did involve security areas. He said he had a role in overseeing the police response to terrorism and there were areas he couldn’t talk about,” said one former colleague at the Muslim Debate Initiative, who asked to remain anonymous.
“He would discuss the reports that HMIC were working on and the data they needed to present.
“His story is so odd and so scandalous in many respects. He had these two completely incompatible lives that went on for years. He despised Britain, yet worked for the British government. He would talk about the right of oppressed people to take up arms against the oppressor and yet he was overseeing the police.
“Opportunities came along to do dawah [preaching] as a full-time job, but he was never tempted to do that because he had a stable income and pension with the civil service.”
One anti-extremism activist, who knew said Mr al Andalusi, said: “[Al-Andalusi] admitted it to a few people. It is the hypocrisy of it that surprises me.”
MPs have called for a full investigation into how someone with as long a record of extremism as Mr al Andalusi had survived vetting and been appointed to his post.
Under the name by which he was known to HMIC, Mouloud Farid, his links with the Muslim Debate Initiative were a matter of public record.
He was registered as a director of the organisation at Companies House, though he earlier this year changed to yet a third name, Wazir Leton Rahman, on the companies register.
“This man’s unsuitability for sensitive work should have been obvious from the start,” said Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr.
“There is a lack of understanding of different strains of Islam in the civil service. I will be asking why the systems designed to prevent this did not work.”
Mr al Andalusi, a prominent figure on the extremist lecture circuit, is closely associated with the extremist group Hizb ut Tahrir, which believes that voting and democracy are un-Islamic.
He is also a strong supporter of the terrorist lobby group Cage, which sparked outrage earlier this year when it defended the Isil hostage-killer Mohammed Emwazi, “Jihadi John,” as a “beautiful” and “gentle” man who had been radicalised by MI5. Like Cage, Mr al-Andalusi fiercely supports the right of British citizens to travel to Syria to fight.
He spoke at a Cage rally outside his own employer’s parent department, the Home Office, to demonstrate against the arrest of the former Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg, on Syria-related terror charges, later dropped. Alongside him were other high-profile extremists and hate preachers including Haitham al-Haddad and senior figures in Hizb ut Tahrir.
Mr al Andalusi has spoken at at least three other Cage events in the last ten months, including on September 20 last year when he claimed that, as part of its “war against Islam,” the British government wanted to force Muslims to eat non-halal meat.
He says that Western liberal society is committed to the “destruction” of all Muslim belief and shows on his Facebook page a picture a concentration camp with a Nazi swastika and “21st century” written on the watchtower.
In the foreground is a gallows with a short route to the hangman’s noose for “Islamists” and a longer route for “Muslim moderates.”
A spokesman for HMIC said: “Mr Farid was investigated for gross misconduct by taking part in public activity that compromised his impartial service to government, thereby breaching the Civil Service Code. He was suspended immediately whilst investigations were ongoing.”
The HMIC accepted Mr Farid’s resignation in July last year, the spokesman added. But the security lapse has only just emerged–coinciding with the government putting a new statutory duty on public bodies, including schools, to monitor and root out extremism.
In a talk at Queen Mary University, in East London, on 16 January, he asked why the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, was treated as a terrorist organisation by the West while the moderate Free Syrian Army was not.
He condemned memorials to 9/11, describing the terror attacks as “the day a vicious world empire [the US] found a publicly-acceptable excuse to bomb others, invade non-threatening nations, torture political dissidents and kill at least 300,000 innocent people.”
After Isil took over large portions of Iraq last year, he wrote that “most Muslims would be jubilant at the return of the caliphate [Islamic state], which is a vital obligation upon Muslims that has been conspicuously missing for so long.”
He condemned the group for killing civilians but said that the West had “no basis to judge Islamic State” because “IS are no different to Western armies and even some of the ‘founding fathers’ of Western nations… IS’s crime is being actually a good student of the West, right down to their corporate structure and organisation and ability to use social media.”
He said that “those who reject IS merely because IS’s school of thought is disagreeable to them should remember that Islam permits difference of opinion. To reject something as outside the fold of Islam, due to it being a different school of thought to one’s own, makes one a purveyor of disunity among Muslims.”
The former friends of Mr al Andalusi said they had left the Muslim Debate Initiative when it became increasingly extreme and dominated by donations from a wealthy Saudi businessman.
One said that he was disturbed by a meeting at which he and Mr al Andalusi heard another man say he wanted to join al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda franchise, and regarded civilian airliners as legitimate weapons of war. The former friend reported the conversation to police.
The former friend said Mr al-Andalusi used a number of psuedonyms and was always secretive about his real name but eventually revealed it in discussions with them.
Mr al Andalusi, who lives in a subsidised £750,000 housing association flat in Westminster, said last night that as Mouloud Farid he was “proud to work for a public watchdog which holds those in power to account. Cage are peaceful and not proscribed. Kaffir is a theological term which has no relation to non-Muslims.”.
He has previously insisted that he does condemn terrorism and regards it as un-Islamic.