Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS)
The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), the umbrella organisation to which the vast majority of university Islamic societies are affiliated, was founded in 1963 by a number of activists from the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami movements.
According to the British government’s 2011 Prevent Strategy Review, “FOSIS has not always fully challenged terrorist and extremist ideology within the higher and further education sectors … There are several examples of students engaging in terrorism or related activities while members of university societies affiliated to FOSIS.” This assessment has been echoed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Home Secretary Theresa May, who have criticised FOSIS for its failure to “fully challenge terrorist and extremist ideology.”
Indeed, FOSIS seems not only to tolerate extremism, but to actively promote it. Speakers at FOSIS-run events in recent years have included (amongst many others):
- Azzam Tamimi, who has called for Israel’s destruction, spoken lovingly of the “great jihad of Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” and heaped praise on “Imam Khomeini.”
- Daud Abdullah, the disgraced former (Jamaat-linked) Muslim Council of Britain official who signed the Istanbul Declaration, which called for attacks on Jewish communities and British soldiers abroad.
- Ibrahim Hewitt of the “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” group Interpal, which raises funds on behalf of Hamas.
- Junaid Ahmed of the Jamaat-controlled Islamic Forum of Europe, who has referred to Hamas terrorists as “heroes”.
- Muhammad al-Kawthari, who has called for adulterous women to be stoned to death and ruled that violent jihad is “personally obligatory for all the Muslims.”
- Haitham al-Haddad, who supports Hamas and wants “Muslims to prepare themselves for jihad, all over the world.”
- Muhammad Alshareef, who thinks that Muslims should be “proud” homophobes who hate, shun and harass gay rights campaigners and Jews.
- Moazzam Begg, the confessed terrorist.
Perhaps most egregiously, in 2003, FOSIS invited al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki to address its annual conference, describing him as a “distinguished guest.” Awlaki was later targeted and killed by a US drone strike in Yemen. His death was described by US President Barack Obama as “a major blow to Al Qaeda.”
Former students who were radicalised at university, some involved with their Islamic Societies, and later turned to terrorism include Kafeel Ahmed, Waheed Zaman, Mohammed Naveed Bhatti, Anthony Garcia, Jawad Akbar and Mohammed Atif Siddique.
FOSIS Speakers in 2014
Zahir Mahmood is one of Britain’s leading hate preachers. He believes that “Hamas are not terrorists; they’re freedom fighters, they’re defending their country”. He urges Muslims to refrain from integrating into Western society, and has condemned those who “give preference to [their] nationality over [their] Islamic identity”.
Heba Ezzat is an Egyptian academic and “supporter of the [Egyptian] Muslim Brotherhood,” according to Professor Mahmood Monshipouri of the San Francisco State University, and is regarded by the Egyptian media as an “Islamist” intellectual.
Aylas Karmani is a British politician whose charity, Street, had its government funding cancelled because of its links to Salafi extremism. He has spoken disparagingly of Jews and Christians, declaring: “They follow different rules than us, the Yahood [Jews] and the Nasara [Christians] … They’ve got no issue killing women and children. That’s their ideology.”
Norman Finkelstein is an American academic who has praised the “heroic resistance” of the Lebanese terrorist organisation Hezbollah, comparing it to the French resistance against the Nazis. He has described the Holocaust as “an ideological construction that originally served the interests of the Jewish elite in America and has now degenerated into a money-making instrument … an extortion racket.”
Wadah Khanfar is the former Director-General of Al Jazeera. He has reportedly been identified by South African and Palestinian intelligence agencies as having connections to the Palestinian terrorist organisation Hamas, and may even have been involved in “paramilitary training.”
Alomgir Ali is an Islamic preacher who believes that women should not show their faces, wear perfume or even speak in public, and argues that “it is best for [them] to stay in [their] home[s].” He uses the derogatory term “kuffar” to describe non-Muslims, and complains that Western Muslims have “gone [so] low that we now show discontent to those who call for the Sharee’ah [sic] in the form of a political entity but rejoice in the fact that people call for democracy.” He has also defended the imposition of strict Sharia law in Brunei, and spoke at a rally in solidarity with Muslim inmates at Belmarsh prison who were convicted of terrorism offences.