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Society – Islamist extremists and UK charities

April 2018

British taxpayers have handed over more than £6m to charities which are, or which have been, used by extremists to further their radical agenda.

This is among the findings of a report from neo-conservative think-tank the Henry Jackson Society. The report is called Wolves in sheep’s clothing: how Islamist extremists exploit the UK charitable sector.

The report’s case studies indicated an approximate £6m has been handed over to individuals, some of whose involvement in extremism can be traced back to the Islamist scene in the early 2000s.

The UK’s Charity Commission has been particularly ill-equipped to deal with these organisations, the Henry Jackson Society claims. The Henry Jackson Society is a UK organisation set up by conservative Americans in honour of a former senator called Henry Jackson.

According to this report, the Charity Commission must ‘urgently exercise the powers given to it under the Charities Act 2016 to direct the winding up of charities and the removal of inappropriate trustees’. The government should consider increasing the resources available to the Commission, so that they can effectively implement their new powers.

The Society also recommended that crowd-funding and event platforms such as Eventbrite, JustGiving and Virgin Giving should do more to prevent extremist charities from raising money and advertising events through their websites.

Emma Webb, author of the report and research fellow at the Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society, said: ‘It is outrageous that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is unwittingly being handed over to extremists whose only goal is to damage our society. The £6 million figure is a minimum, with the evidence suggesting that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

‘Charitable status is not a right, it is a privilege. The public correctly expect that charities should work for society, not against it’.

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