There is a “clear and growing link” between funding from the Gulf states and the promotion of Islamic extremism in the UK, a think-tank has warned.
A report from the Henry Jackson Society said that a “growing body of evidence” had emerged that showed that funding from countries such as Saudi Arabia had helped advance Islamist extremism in Britain and other Western countries, and called for a public inquiry into the issue.
Its author, Tom Wilson, said: “The foreign funding for Islamist extremism in Britain primarily comes from governments and government linked foundations based in the Gulf, as well as Iran. Foremost among these has been Saudi Arabia, which since the 1960s has sponsored a multi-million-dollar effort to export Wahhabi Islam across the Islamic world, including to Muslim communities in the West.”
He added: “Given that there is a clear lack of information and understanding about this subject, both among policy-makers and the public, the government should start to address this issue by launching an official and public inquiry into the subject.”
The Saudi Arabian embassy in London insisted the claims are “categorically false”.
It also pointed out that the country has itself been subject to numerous attacks by al-Qaeda and Islamic State, adding: “We do not and will not condone the actions or ideology of violent extremism.”
The UK government’s own report – commissioned in 2015 by then-prime minister David Cameron – into the existence and influence of jihadist organisations, has yet to be published.
Labour MP Dan Jarvis said: “This report from the Henry Jackson Society sheds light on what are extremely worrying links between Saudi Arabia and the funding of extremism here in the UK. I’m calling on the government to release its foreign funding report, and guarantee that the new counter extremism commission will make tackling the funding of extremism a priority.”
A government spokesman said: “Defeating the evil ideology of Islamist extremism is one of the greatest challenges of our time. The Commission for Counter-Extremism, which the PM announced earlier this year, will have a key role to play in this fight.
“We are determined to cut off the funding which fuels the evils of extremism and terrorism, and will work closely with international partners to tackle this shared global threat.”