In June 2020, the UK Charity Commission addressed a warning letter to the trustees of the Islamic Centre of England (ICE), a part of the Iranian influence network in the UK. The letter was in response to an event in memory of Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who was killed in a targeted U.S. drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020. According to the Charity Commission letter:
On 3 January 2020 the trustees allowed a candlelit vigil to be held at the charity’s West London premises in response to the death of the Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani has been subject to financial sanctions by HM Treasury for terrorism and/or terrorist financing since 17 October 2011 following a designation under the Terrorist Asset Freezing Etc Act 2010. The event risked associating the charity with a speaker who may have committed an offence under the Terrorism Acts, as the speaker was filmed during the event appearing to praise and call for support for Soleimani. The trustees failed to intervene or provide a counter narrative. The following day the trustees organised a further event for Soleimani and published statements on the charity’s website offering condolence and praise for him. As a result, the regulator has exercised its power under section 75A of the Charities Act 2011 to issue an Official Warning to the charity. This requires the trustees to take specific steps to review content on the charity’s website and ensure appropriate consideration is given and risk assessments conducted for any future events held at the charity’s premises.
UK media further reported that the Centre’s Director had referred to Soleimani as an ‘honourable Islamic commander’ in a message of condolence. It should also be noted that the ICE Director Seyed Hashem Moosavi, had issued an message of thanks to those who attended the events (which was later taken offline), stating:
On this occasion I would like to thank all the dear brothers and sisters, especially respected Ulama, representatives of the grand Maraji’ (Religious Authorities), envoys of the embassies of Islamic countries in particular the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to London, dignified scholars, heads and servants of centres, Mosques and Islamic congregations, university lecturers, headteachers, teachers, students and everyone who attended the Islamic Centre of England and who were coming from London and other cities of England with their various languages, cultures and nationalities, and everyone who attended and participated in the memorial service of the great martyrs Haj Qassem Soleimani and Haj Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis and those dear martyrs who were with them. Also, I would like to thank all those dear ones who attened the previous night with lighting candles and laying flowers for the pure souls of the martyrs. I offer my thanks and gratitude to you all and I ask the Almighty Allah for all of you brothers and sisters to be blessed with health, success and steadfastness in your life. I also wish for the highly esteemed martyrs to be given the highest of positions, be showered with the mercy of God and to be joined with the master of martyrs Imam Hussain (peace and blessings be upon him).
The Islamic Centre of England (ICE) is part of the Iranian influence network in the UK. Its website states that it was founded in December 1995 and opened officially in November 1998. On its website, the Centre says it wishes to serve the Muslim community and the wider community in various fields, with religious guidance and cultural issues being at the forefront. The Centre was headed until 2020 by Hujjat Al-Islam Mohammad Ali Shomali, who in 2016 received a letter of appreciation from the Office of Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, in which he was titled The Respected Representative of Grand Ayatollah Khamenei. Shomali is currently a lecturer and the head of dept. of Religions at the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute in Qum. Leading figures connected to ICEL take part in pro-Iranian initiated events like the annual International Quds Day. In June 2014, it co-hosted with the Ahlulbayt Islamic mission (AIM) the 5th annual Imam Khomeini Conference, to commemorate the death anniversary of the late leader of the Islamic Revolution.
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