Den britiske riksadvokaten har et underutvalg til å rådgi seg om religiøs ekstremisme og terror. Medlem av komiteen er Azad Ali, som på blogger hyller Al Qaidas åndelige leder, Abdullah Azzam, for sin forståelse av jihad.
Azad Ali er ansatt i finansdepartementet hvor han jobber med it. Han er således underlagt tjenstemannsreglementet som sier at man ikke kan drive politisk propaganda.
Utnevnelsen av Ali er ikke enestående. Det ser ut til å være utslag av en «big tent»-filosofi, man lager en størst mulig paraply for å trekke inn flest mulig meninger, også islamistiske ekstremister. Flere senior-medarbeidere skal imidlertid ha reagert på Azad Alis rolle. Hva slags råd kan han gi som selv er ekstremist?
Ali ble tidligere i år etterforsket av finansdepartementet for brudd på reglementet.
Ali was investigated earlier this year over his controversial views on the Iraq war and was forced to deny that he sympathised with the killing of British troops. He got into trouble with his Treasury bosses after using his blog to deny that last November’s Mumbai attacks, which claimed 173 lives, were an act of terrorism.
Ali, an IT worker, has also defended Hizb ut-Tahrir, the radical group intent on creating an Islamic caliphate, and has condemned some moderate Muslims as «vultures feeding on the dead flesh of the Palestinians».
Men det er hans rolle som medlem av kontraterror-rådgivningsgruppen som nå vekker oppmerksomhet.
The appointment of a man with such radical views to help guide government policy on terrorist prosecutions has raised concern among some of Starmer’s senior legal colleagues.
They say it reflects a recent trend in some Whitehall departments to recruit hardline Islamic figures to help secure closer ties with more extreme elements in the Muslim community.
However, the «big tent» approach has led to criticism that ministers are allowing those with controversial views to influence policy.
A senior source close to Starmer said he was surprised by Ali’s latest role. «It may have been a little foolish of Keir to be relying for advice on such sensitive matters from someone with these sort of opinions,» said the source. «There seems to be a fad for taking these sorts of people on board.»
Patrick Mercer, chairman of the Commons subcommittee on counterterrorism, said: «This is the sort of politically correct appointment which the government will make in haste but may regret at leisure.»
As a civil servant, Ali is bound by a code of conduct which requires Whitehall employees to refrain from political campaigning or partisan propaganda for a particular cause.
Ali remains at the Treasury despite an investigation ordered by Sir Gus O’Donnell, the cabinet secretary and head of the civil service. The Treasury said that it had dealt with Ali «in accordance with disciplinary procedures» and that he was still in his post.
Ali airs his controversial opinions on an internet blog. He also presents a chat show on Muslim Community Radio, which this year appealed for charity donations for Gaza. Critics describe Ali as a «political activist, propagandist and champion for political Islam».
Ali gave vent to his feelings about the British government’s attitude to the Israeli military assault on Gaza in a blog entry last year. Under the headline «We are the resistance», he wrote: «There is no respite from the terrorist slaughter machine of the Zionist state of Israel. America and our own government have given much fuel to this machine and in fact helped to build the killing machine.»
A month earlier Ali used his blog to praise Abdullah Azzam, a radical preacher who is regarded as a key spiritual mentor to Osama Bin Laden. He said Azzam was one of the «few Muslims who promote the understanding of the term jihad in its comprehensive glory» as both a doctrine of «self-purification» and of «warfare».
The panel is chaired by Sue Hemming, director of the CPS’s counterterrorism division. Hemming, in turn, provides advice to Starmer.
A spokesman said: «The panel discusses practices and policies in relation to the incitement to racial and religious hatred. It feeds into the CPS’s counterterrorism division and considers issues on a thematic basis. It does not discuss individual cases.»
Chief prosecutor Keir Starmer advised by radical Muslim