A FORMER counter-extremism co-ordinator for Waltham Forest Council is writing a national report that singles the borough out as having a “grim history of extremism and terrorism”.
The Guardian has been granted exclusive access to extracts of the report, which also covers Cardiff, Birmingham and Glasgow and is not yet published.
The report highlights incidents in Waltham Forest including a prominent Islamist being given an award by the council and collection boxes in high street stores for groups advocating extremist ideologies.
Charlotte Littlewood, 27, was at the council for almost two years before being dismissed after facing a disciplinary hearing on allegations that she had breached her employment contract – something she denies.
All local authorities now have a duty to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 and counter-extremism co-ordinators help to do that.
In her report, funded by charity Ahmadiyya UK, Ms Littlewood states that, due to its “high level” of extremist activity, Waltham Forest is considered a priority borough by the Government with regard to the need to tackle extremism and therefore benefits from greater state resourcing and support.
But the former counter-extremism coordinator, who now works for the company Faith Matters, a group that works to promote community cohesion and counter extremism, said: “Despite this the local authority has appeared to have wilfully ignored extremist activity.”
In the past, Ms Littlewood has accused the council of “colluding in sectarianism” for its failure to act when claims were made of discrimination against Ahmadi Muslims in the borough, namely on the borough’s Faith Forum – an allegation the authority said was “misleading and inaccurate”.
Now, in her report, Ms Littlewood cites a number of incidents over the years to show how she believes the council has turned a blind eye.
One incident in 2016 saw a leading Islamist and current head of Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami Islamist party, Siraj Ul Haq, receive an award from the council to “honour” his visit to the borough.
Two current members of Waltham Forest Council’s cabinet, Cllr Liaquat Ali and Cllr Ahsan Khan, were photographed with Haq as he received his award in the council chamber of the town hall.
Long before Haq’s leadership, the party launched a campaign against Ahmadi-Muslims in Pakistan in 1953 which descended into bloody riots that saw the death of more than 250 Ahmadis.
In 2016, it was found Cllr Ahsan Khan’s father had arranged the visit and the use of the town hall.
Cllr Khan told the Evening Standard in 2016 that he “completely disagrees with [Haq’s] views”.
According to Ms Littlewood’s report, an ongoing issue in the borough is the area’s links to other Pakistani Islamist groups promoting extreme views.
Currently, a number of high street stores in Leyton have been found to have collection boxes on their till counters to raise money for Dalwat-e-Islami and Madani.
Dalwat-e-Islami are a non-political, religious group in Pakistan and extremists from their group shared posts on Facebook praising the man responsible for the murder of Ahmadi-Muslim Asad Shah in Glasgow in 2016.
Madani TV is the television channel run by Dalwat-e-Islami, on which the group’s founder Molana Ilyas Qadri declared that punishment for blasphemy is death and if an individual kills a blasphemer he should not be punished.
Dalwat-e-Islami is a registered charity in England and Scotland.
Extremist groups have also held conferences in Walthamstow – including Khatm-e-Nabuwwat – an anti-Ahmadiyya extremist group based in Pakistan.
In the past, the group’s leaders in Pakistan have called Ahmadis ‘WajibulQatal’, which means ‘worthy of death’ and its representatives “congratulated all Muslims” on the group’s Facebook page following the death of Ahmadi Asad Shah.
That group met in Walthamstow as recently as October 2018.
And in November 2015, a Channel 4 documentary, ‘ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled’, found a council-owned building was being used for meetings by three ISIS-sympathising women.
The women, known as Umm L, Umm Usmaan and Umm Saalihah on Twitter, preached to promote the terrorist organisation, encourage Muslims to abandon the rule of law and democracy in Britain and even make the trip to Syria to join ISIS.
The Waltham Forest Asian Centre in Orford Road, Walthamstow later banned the group, known as Islamic Circles for Women, from meeting there after the group’s “shocking” preaching was revealed.
Ms Littlewood’s report also details a 2006 transatlantic bomb plot organised by a terrorist group from a park in Walthamstow.
According to the national Guardian, as part of the plot, a flat was purchased on Forest Road in Walthamstow in July 2006 by a group of Islamist terrorists in what judges called a “somewhat opaque” transaction.
Several islamist martyrdom videos were then uploaded to the internet from that address.
Two men involved in the plot, Abdulla Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar, were arrested close to Waltham Forest town hall along Forest Road on August 9 2006 around 9.45pm while others were arrested at their homes in the borough.
Three men involved in the plot, Ali, Sawar and Tanvir Hussain, were later sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to murder crew and passengers on transatlantic flights.
Ms Littlewood’s report extends across the UK investigating instances of anti-Ahmadi extremism in Cardiff, Birmingham and Glasgow and is due to be published in June.
It is understood the government is currently preparing a cross-party report into the discrimination faced by the Ahmadi-Muslim community in the UK.
The report is being headed by MP for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhain McDonagh, and is expected to be released in May.
A spokesman for Waltham Forest Council refuted the allegations Ms Littlewood makes against them in her report.
They said: “We host regular visits from officials from around the UK and abroad to learn from what we do and were the first local authority to secure an Anti-Social Behaviour Order against a hate preacher. Our original programme has gone on to form part of the national approach.”
They added the authority responded quickly to criticism following the visit of Siraj Ul Haq in 2016 and brought in new protocol to ensure the incident wasn’t repeated.
They went on to say the Khatm-e-Nabuwaat conference in October 2018 took place “in a private venue”.
The spokesman concluded: “We have a strong record in tackling extremism in the borough and have been nationally recognised for our work to oppose the terror threat.
“Waltham Forest Council does not support hatred or extremist views of any form or nature, and condemn them entirely. We are proud to be a tolerant and welcoming borough where residents from all walks of life, cultures, and countries can make the very most of their life chances.”