BBC charity accused of funding terrorist

BBC denies charges that money raised was used for recruitment, training in 2005 London attacks.

By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT IN LONDON
August 21, 2008 22:58
4 minute read.
BBC charity accused of funding terrorist

bbc 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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The BBC has denied charges that money raised by a BBC charity was used to recruit and train the terrorists involved in the 7/7 terror attacks on London that killed 52 people in 2005. The BBC's own Newsnight current affairs programme reported on Tuesday night's broadcast that the BBC's Children in Need charity had donated around £20,000 to the Leeds Community School, Yorkshire, between 1999 and 2002 which went towards funding the activities of the terrorists behind the July 2005 attacks. On Thursday the BBC said that there is no evidence that the money was used for terrorist activity. The school funded and shared premises with the Iqra Islamic book shop where the suicide bombers Muhammad Siddique Khan and Shezhad Tanweer regularly met. Khan and Tanweer attempted to radicalize youths by showing propaganda films at the bookshop, which became a regular meeting place for young Muslims at the time - including Jermaine Lindsay, who went on to become the King's Cross bomber. The two handed out DVDs and books about Bosnia and Chechnya and held Arabic classes in a back room of the store. They also produced a leaflet in the wake of September 11 blaming the attacks on a Jewish conspiracy. The school also received large sums from other public bodies and paid for adventure weekends, used to recruit potential Muslim radicals, such as a rafting trip to Wales a month before the London attacks. Tanweer and Khan went on the trip, along with Khalid Khaliq, who this year was jailed for terrorism offences. Khaliq's house was raided by police last year. They found books with titles such as Zaad-e-Mujahid [essential provision for holy fighters] and The Absent Obligation, a book about jihad, as well as 250 copies of a booklet entitled The War on Terrorism: the Final Crusade. Both Khan, the leader of the bombers, and Tanweer, the Aldgate bomber, were trustees of the bookshop. Khan also worked at the school and ran the adventure courses in Wales. The bookshop and the school were registered charities. The bookshop claimed, according to the UK Charity Commission, that its aim was "the advancement of the Islamic faith," while the school's aim was said to be to "advance the education of Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils." Martin Gilbertson, an IT technician who worked at the school and bookshop, said that he had been concerned about the activities of Tanweer and Khan. "They blamed everything on the 'Jewish conspiracy‚' they hated Western culture; it was like living with jihad on a daily basis," he said. On Wednesday, David Ramsden, chief executive of Children in Need, said: "I'm incredibly concerned that we did make an award to Leeds Community School over nine years ago, and any allegation that any funding we've given to any project has been misused and not used to change the lives of disadvantaged children and young people makes me concerned and very sad. "I can reassure the British public that we are very careful in who we fund and this allegation is a very rare one for us, but one that causes a great deal of concern." However on Thursday, the BBC said the money had been given in "good faith," and that there was no evidence to show the money was used for terrorist activity. "The grants made by BBC Children in Need to Leeds Community School, itself a charity registered with the Charity Commission, were given in good faith in 1998 and 1999," said Hellen Martin, media relations manager at the BBC. "No evidence has been produced that the money they received was used for terrorist activity. Clearly if there is an allegation of fraud, then it is a matter for the police. BBC Children In Need distributes more than £30 million in grants every year, greatly benefiting disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. "BBC Children in Need does everything it possibly can to make sure that the public money is entirely used to benefit these children." Children in Need says its mission is to "positively change the lives of disadvantaged children and young people in the UK." On the charity's Web site, its mission statement says that support is given in the form of grants to organizations "working with children who may have experienced mental, physical or sensory disabilities; behavioral or psychological disorders; are living in poverty or situations of deprivation; or suffering through distress, abuse or neglect. "The size and scale of the BBC Children in Need Appeal means that we're able to give grants to hundreds of different organizations, some of which are very small and don't have the resources to fund-raise for themselves." In 2006, the BBC Children in Need Appeal raised over £33m. Last month, the BBC was fined a record £400,000 by media watchdog Ofcom for misleading its audiences by "faking" phone-in competitions. A Children in Need appeal in 2005 was part of the scandal. "The BBC deceived its audience by faking winners of competitions and deliberately conducting competitions unfairly," Ofcom said.

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