Saudi Arabia has strong ‘clear link’ to UK extremism, report says

LONDON: Saudi Arabia is the chief foreign promoter of Islamist extremism in the UK, a new report has claimed.

The Henry Jackson Society said there was a “clear and growing link” between Islamist organisations in receipt of overseas funds, hate preachers and Jihadist groups promoting violence in the UK, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

The foreign affairs think-tank called for a public inquiry into the role of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.

The UK’s Saudi Arabian Embassy said the claims were “categorically false”. Ministers were under pressure to publish a report on UK-based Islamist groups, the BBC report said.

The Home Office report into the existence and influence of Jihadist organisations, commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015, was reportedly still waiting to be completed amid questions as to whether it would ever be published.

Critics have suggested it could make uncomfortable reading for the government, which has close and longstanding diplomatic, security and economic links with the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday’s report said a number of Gulf nations, as well as Iran, were providing financial support to mosques and Islamic educational institutions which have played host to extremist preachers and been linked to the spread of extremist material, the BBC said.

At the top of the list, the report claimed, was Saudi Arabia. It alleged individuals and foundations have been heavily involved in exporting what it called “an illiberal, bigoted Wahhabi ideology”, quoting a number of examples.

In a minority of cases, the report alleged institutions in the UK that receive Saudi funding were run directly from Saudi Arabia, although in most instances the money appeared to “simply buy foreign donors’ influence”.

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