The results of a government-sponsored inquiry into the sources of funding for Islamist militant groups operating in the U.K. may be kept hidden forever due to the nature of its findings, the U.K.’s Home Office has said, according to local media.
The investigation was reportedly authorized by former Prime Minister David Cameron during his Conservative administration’s bid to convince the Liberal Democrat opposition to approve British airstrikes against positions held by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Syria in December 2015. The Liberal Democrats were satisfied and, the following month, British intelligence began looking into how foreign entities transferred funds to promote radical ideology in the U.K. According to a report published Wednesday in The Guardian, however, the Home Office not only declined to disclose any information regarding its findings, it suggested it may never do so, due to the “very sensitive” nature of the results. which are believed to contain references to Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the U.K. and known sponsor of ultraconservative Wahhabist Sunni Muslim ideology around the world.
A Home Office spokesperson told the publication that a decision may be made on the inquiry after the nation’s next government is elected, but the article provided no further details. The foreign affairs spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, Tom Brake, has written to Prime Minister Theresa May, who was the home secretary at the time the inquiry was launched in 2016, demanding answers. He criticized May’s inaction despite two deadly acts committed by U.K. citizens—Khalid Masood in March and Salman Ramadan Abedi last week—that a left a combined 28 people dead and dozens more injured since the 2016 inquiry was opened. Both individuals were said to be inspired by the hardline Islamist ideology the Home Office was tasked with investigating.
“As home secretary at the time, your department was one of those leading on the report. Eighteen months later, and following two horrific terrorist attacks by British-born citizens, that report still remains incomplete and unpublished,” Brake wrote, according to The Guardian.
“It is no secret that Saudi Arabia, in particular, provides funding to hundreds of mosques in the U.K., espousing a very hardline Wahhabist interpretation of Islam. It is often in these institutions that British extremism takes root.”
The criticism comes as May’s government fell under renewed fire from Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn for pursuing foreign policies that foster extremism. If he were to be elected, Corbyn has vowed to end U.K. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has also been accused by the U.N. and a number of other international organizations of wide-ranging human rights abuses in its war against Zaidi Shiite Muslim organization, Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis, in Yemen. The Houthis have received political and potentially military backing from Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, leading Riyadh to enlist foreign support for its cause, which has come from Western powers such as the U.K. and the U.S.
In Washington, President Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House initially appeared devastating to Saudi interests, as Trump had accused the monarchy of propagating radical Islamist ideology throughout the region and abroad. Trump, who signed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia during a trip to the country last week, pointed out only last year that 15 of the 19 hijackers connected to Al-Qaeda and responsible for the 9/11 attacks actually came from Saudi Arabia. In the wake of the attacks, the U.S. set its own special inquiry into Saudi Arabia’s potential involvement, the results of which were only made public last year.
Since Trump has grown closer to Saudi Arabia, officials from the kingdom have asked the Republican to repeal a 2016 law, known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), that allows the families of 9/11 victims to sue the country for the role its nationals played in the deadliest terror attack of all time. It was also revealed earlier this month that the Saudi government had paid U.S. military veterans thousands of dollars in travel and hotel costs in order for them to lobby against JASTA.
U.K. Terrorism Report on Saudi Arabia May Be Kept Secret – Newsweek