No 10 ‘buried terror report to protect Saudi Arabians’

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[The hypocrisy is thick all around. The Saudis still claim to be threatening Qatar over doing the same thing they do: sponsor terrorism. See Qatar delivers response to demands from Saudi-led bloc. *RON*]

Lucy Fisher, The Times, 4 July 2017

Theresa May met King Salman, left, in December. Home Office sources insisted that Saudi Arabia was not the focus of a controversial report into terror funding STEFAN ROUSSEAU/GETTY
Theresa May has been accused of burying a report into the funding of Islamist extremism in the UK for fear it will embarrass Saudi Arabia.

It has emerged that the report, which was originally commissioned by David Cameron in January last year and had been due to be completed by last Easter, has been in Mrs May’s possession for at least six months.

She said yesterday in response to a parliamentary question that “ministers are considering advice on what is able to be published and will report to parliament with an update in due course”.

Home Office sources said the report does include references to Saudi Arabia but insisted that the Gulf state was not a major focus of it.

It was undertaken as part of a deal Mr Cameron struck as prime minister with the Liberal Democrats to secure their support for extending British airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria in December 2015.

The extremism analysis unit within the Home Office, then presided over by Mrs May, was asked to conduct the review, which was designed to examine the origins and scale of funding for UK extremist groups, with an additional remit to follow international funding streams. The Lib Dems have kept up pressure on the Conservatives to publish the report, while government insiders have countered that some of the material concerning terror and extremism financing is too sensitive to be made public.

In May this year Tom Brake, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, wrote to Mrs May asking her to confirm that she would not shelve the investigation.

He wrote: “It is no secret that Saudi Arabia in particular provides funding to hundreds of mosques in the UK, espousing a very hardline Wahhabist interpretation of Islam. It is often in these institutions that British extremism takes root. Now is not the time to brush this under the carpet once more.”

It took until last week for the government finally to disclose that the review had been completed, and had reported last year to the prime minister and home secretary, in response to a parliamentary question.

Tim Farron, the outgoing Liberal Democrat leader, last night said: “The government are covering up this report. It’s a scandal that this is sitting in Downing Street gathering dust. What has the prime minister got to hide?

“I believe this report will be deeply critical of Saudi [Arabia] and that is why it is being hidden from the public. The government seems too desperate to keep Saudi Arabia happy rather than stand up to them.”

A Home Office source said it was not right to say the report was being suppressed because of a focus on Saudi Arabia. A government spokeswoman reiterated Mrs May’s statement.

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