(photo credit: Bloomberg)
LONDON – The American ambassador to the UK has been criticized for an official
visit he made last week to a London mosque deemed to have accentuated
A London-based research institute and a think tank condemned
the decision of Ambassador Louis Susman to visit the East London Mosque, which
is accused of hosting and espousing extremist Islamist views which has
encouraged terrorist acts.
The American Embassy said in a statement that
the visit was “a part of President [Barack] Obama’s call for a renewed dialogue
with Muslim communities around the world.
“Ambassador Susman has visited
several mosques and Muslim community groups in the UK,” the embassy
“His private visit to the East London Mosque and London Muslim
Center was part of this effort to promote dialogue, discussion and debate
between the United States and Muslims around the world. The ambassador toured
the facility and had a private meeting with young members of the
“The East London Mosque and London Muslim Center have a large and
diverse membership reflecting a wide range views. The ambassador’s visit offered
an opportunity to share perspectives on the role of Islam in the US, discuss US
foreign policy and explore areas of disagreement and common ground,” the embassy
Writing in The Wall Street Journal last week, Shiraz
Maher, senior researcher at the International Center for the Study of Radicalism
at King’s College London, said the mosque “is among Britain’s most extreme
He continued: “Built with financial aid from Saudi
Arabia, the sprawling facility is home to the London Muslim Center where
incendiary preachers are regularly welcomed.”
Last year, the mosque
hosted an event with Anwar al- Awlaki, a US and Yemeni citizen accused of being
a major al-Qaida player and who allegedly has inspired Islamist terrorist
attacks around the world, including 9/11, the Fort Hood attack and the attempt
last year to blow up a Delta Airlines flight over the Atlantic.
terrorist credentials rival those of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al- Zawahiri. Two
of the 9/11 terrorists as well as Nidal Hasan, who murdered 13 US soldiers in
Fort Hood last year, attended his sermons in Washington. From his new base in
Yemen, Awlaki called Hasan a ‘hero’ and boasted of having directed the
‘underpants bomber,’ Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, in his bid to blow up a Delta
airlines flight last Christmas,” Mahar said in the Wall Street
Alexander Hitchens, a research fellow also at the International
Center for the Study of Radicalism, said the ambassador’s visit gives legitimacy
“The ambassador’s visit to the East London mosque, and any
possible future relationship between the two, risks lending further legitimacy
to an institute with multiple links to extremism.
The most notable being
Anwar al-Awlaki’s recent address, via pre-recorded message, to a large audience
of British Muslims.
“In future, it would be advisable for the US embassy
to take more care with who they publicly engage with,” Hitchens
Robin Simcox, from the London-based think tank Center for Social
Cohesion, said the mosque is “no friend of the US government.
consistently hosts extremist, anti-Western speakers – even Anwar al- Awlaki, a
man that President Obama has authorized the CIA to assassinate.”
is on the US’s “kill or capture” list.
At the mosque event which Awlaki
spoke at last year, which was titled “The end of time: A new beginning,” flyers
were distributed with a depiction of Manhattan skyline crumbling and the Statue
of Liberty ablaze.
Speaking also was Khalid Yasin, who, according to
Maher, described the beliefs of Jews and Christians as “filth.”
also told the Journal that a trustee of the mosque, Azad Ali, supported the
killing of British and US troops in Iraq.
A report published last year by
the British government on the Pakistani Muslim community in the UK stated that
the East London Mosque “is the key institution for the Bangladeshi wing of
[South East Asian Islamist group] Jamaat-e Islami in the UK.
Susman’s visit illustrates the blunders Western politicians often make by
reaching out to the wrong Muslim dialogue partners,” Mahar said.