Scottish Islamic Foundation on security list alongside extremists

A SCOTTISH Islamic group has been accused of sharing the ideology of terrorists in a secret list prepared for top British security officials.

The Scottish Islamic Foundation, which receives funding from the Scottish Government, has been described as an "entry level" group for Islamists by the Quilliam Foundation.

The list it has compiled identifies groups that it says local and central government should be "wary of engagement" with.

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However, the Scottish Islamic Foundation, which recently organised the Scottish Muslim Awards and was set up by Osama Saeed who stood as an SNP candidate at the last election, has rejected the claims and threatened to take legal action against the counter-extremism think-tank.

The Quilliam Foundation was co-founded by Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz, former activists in the radical Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir. In a document sent to Charles Farr, the director- general of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, a directorate of the Home Office, it lists the Scottish Islamic Foundation and the Muslim Council of Britain along with numerous other groups as alleged extremist sympathisers.

The report said: "These are a selection of groups and institutions active in the UK which are broadly sympathetic to Islamism.

"Whilst only a small proportion will agree with al-Qaeda's tactics, many will agree with the overall goal of creating a single 'Islamic state' which would bring together all Muslims around the world under a single government and then impose on them a single interpretation of shariah as state law."

It continues: "Local and central government should be wary of engagement with these groups as it risks empowering proponents of the ideology, if not the methodology, that is behind terrorism."

The briefing document went on to say: "The ideology of non-violent Islamists is broadly the same as that of violent Islamists, they disagree only on tactics."

Yesterday a spokesman for the Scottish Islamic Foundation said: "This is without any basis and we will take legal advice on our options for redress wherever allegations appear. QF (the Quilliam Foundation] is run by a pair of individuals whose intellect is such that they were self-confessed bona fide extremists as late as 2007. They now lecture others in a McCarthyite fashion about supposed links, when QF themselves actually support scholars who advocate a global Islamic state."

Other groups that were included in the list, which was also sent to a number of government agencies involved in security, included the Muslim Safety Forum, which works with the police to improve community relations, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, and satellite broadcaster the Islam Channel.

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The report was addressed to Mr Farr and it said it was not to be seen by civil servants, only by him, ministers and their special advisers. However, it was recently posted on the web.

Last night a Scottish Government spokesman said: "There is no evidence whatever for such an assertion. We have good community relations in Scotland, and anything that risks undermining that is irresponsible. Audit Scotland examined matters connected with the SIF funding, and clearly and definitively concluded that the appropriate procedures and processes were followed by the Scottish Government."

Osama Saeed, the founder of the SIF and its former chief executive, left the organisation in March in order to stand as an SNP candidate in the general election. Quilliam then sent out a report stating that the SNP had endorsed an Islamist candidate on the grounds that Mr Saeed had written of the need for Muslims to re-create the Caliphate, an idea that is promoted by a range of extreme Islamist groups. However, Mr Saeed said he was describing the Muslim world acting as an "economic block" which would "bring down trade barriers" and allow the "free flow of people across Muslim states."

Mr Saeed and a Home Office spokesman both declined to comment last night.

'Articulating the good Muslims can bring to Scotland'

THE Scottish Islamic Foundation was set up by Osama Saeed, a former aid to First Minister Alex Salmond, to promote community harmony in Scotland.

It was given a 400,000 grant by ministers to fund its work, half of which was to be used to host a large Islamic festival that was subsequently cancelled, despite expenses being run up of more than 70,000.

The foundation had to repay 128,500 to the government.

The website states its mission as: "The Scottish-Islamic Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to building bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims, both nationally and internationally.

"It works on cultural, economic and social levels. It also seeks to articulate and actualise all the good that Muslims can bring to Scotland by empowering them to increase their contribution to society."

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It recently organised the inaugural Scottish Muslim Awards and in March and April held Salaam Scotland, a festival of Muslim life and culture designed to encourage more Muslims to participate in the arts.