LONDON: Police in the UK are investigating whether the head of a campaign group broke terrorism laws when he gave a speech praising Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), delivered his eulogy at a candlelit vigil held outside a London Islamic center in January to mourn Soleimani’s death.
The commander of Iran’s Quds force, who was blacklisted for his terrorism links, was killed by a US drone strike at Baghdad airport earlier that day.
Shadjareh, an outspoken supporter of the Iranian regime, told crowds at the event that “we aspire to be like him” in reference to Soleimani.
The Islamic Centre of England (ICE) was reprimanded this month for hosting the commemoration and a second event honoring Soleimani.
The Charity Commission, the charity regulator for England and Wales, denounced ICE’s trustees for failing to prevent one speaker from “praising and calling for support for Major General Soleimani.”
The incident, the Commission said, “exposed the charity to the risk of being associated with the speaker, who may have committed an offence under section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006, for glorification of terrorism.”
London’s Metropolitan police confirmed Sunday they are assessing whether any terrorism offences took place.
The Met said it was aware that the Commission’s warning to the charity references an individual who may have committed an offence.
“The Met Police Counter Terrorism Command is currently assessing whether any criminal offences may have been committed,” the statement said.
Tim Hopkins, Assistant Director of Investigations and Inquiries at the Charity Commission said: “Any charity being associated with terrorism is completely unacceptable and we are concerned by the corrosive effect this might have on public confidence in this and other charities.”
Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, told The Daily Telegraph: “It is extraordinary that a UK charity could ever have thought it appropriate to host a vigil and offer praise for one of the world’s most notorious terrorist organisers.
“It is little wonder that the UK continues to face a serious extremist problem given that community institutions like ICE are promoting hatred rather than cohesion.”
Neither ICE or IHRC could be reached for comment.