Glasgow and Edinburgh mosque leaders linked to extremist group

LEADING figures of two Scottish mosques have held posts in a banned organisation linked to sectarian attacks, it has been claimed.
Glasgow Central Mosque. Picture: Colin HattersleyGlasgow Central Mosque. Picture: Colin Hattersley
Glasgow Central Mosque. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Sabir Ali, the head of religious events at Glasgow Central Mosque, and the leader of Polwarth Mosque in Edinburgh Hafiz Abdul Hamid have both occupied senior positions in the UK branch of Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP), a BBC Scotland investigation has discovered.

The organisation, which has previously committed massacres in Pakistan, was banned in the UK in 2001.

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The BBC claims to have evidence that both men held positions in SSP’s British branch after this, but are unsure whether they are still involved.

Glasgow Central Mosque said it condemned terrorism of any kind. Mr Hamid declined to comment to the BBC.

Sipah-e-Sahaba is a militant anti-Shia political party formed in Pakistan in the 1980s.

The group and its armed off-shoot, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), have accepted responsibility for deadly sectarian attacks against Shia Muslims and other religious minorities in Pakistan.

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It has links to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and was banned by the Home Office in 2001 - and in Pakistan one year later.

The BBC says it has obtained copies of the group’s in-house magazine, Khalifat-e-Rashida, spanning the years both before and after its proscription.

Their report states: “They show that both the men in Scotland used their mosques to hold events in SSP’s honour and further its teachings.

“And they show that, in the case of Polwarth Mosque in Edinburgh, financial support was provided to the group after it was banned.

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“Donations from abroad are believed to be a key funding source of SSP.”

Sabir Ali, also known as Chaudhry Sabir Ali, is a member of the executive committee at Glasgow Central Mosque - Scotland’s largest - where Sunni Muslims of Pakistani origin are the largest group.

He has held the position of Ishat-e-Islam, or leader of religious events, for a number of years, making him a key link between the Imams and the mosque community.

The BBC claims that the documents they have obtained list him as “President of SSP Scotland”.

Their report adds: “In October 2003, after the group was banned, an article in Khalifat-e-Rashida describes a memorial service at Glasgow Central Mosque for the former leader and co-founder of SSP, Azam Tariq, who had been assassinated in Pakistan that same month.

“At the meeting, the magazine says, a man named Chaudhry Sabir told those attending that Azam Tariq had “won the hearts of the Muslim world” and that “the enemies of Islam killed him” before vowing to continue his mission.”