iERA & The Westminster Attacker, Khalid Masood:
The Times’ Smearing and Inaccurate Reporting.
The Times newspaper produced a misleading and factually inaccurate article smearing iERA and portraying false narratives. On 20 September 2018, The Times’ journalist Katie Gibbons wrote a misleading and factually inaccurate article entitled “Westminster attacker attended mosque linked to fertiliser bomb plot”. In this article, Gibbons mentions that the Westminster attacker, Khalid Masood, set up a direct debit to iERA in June 2015 and 2016 and wrote to iERA to be considered for their New Muslim mentoring programme. Gibbons refers to iERA’s Charity Commission investigation and writes that during Khalid Masood’s “involvement” with iERA he began reading a wealth of material relating to Islam and Jihad. Gibbons also mentions that the Charity Commission investigated iERA and she falsely concluded that they could retain charitable status if its trustees cut ties with individuals that support terrorism or encourage extremism.
iERA would like to respond to The Times’ shoddy and misleading journalism:
- Direct Debit: Khalid Masood was donating money to iERA via direct debit. However, he stopped donating months before the attack. Thousands of British Muslims donate to iERA on a regular basis to support their important work, especially for new Muslims. iERA does not advocate or promote violence. There is no link between our work and Khalid Masood’s criminal act which appears to be the impression given in the article.
- New Muslim mentoring programme request: Khalid Masood emailed iERA on 21 June 2016 requesting to become a New Muslim mentor. No such role existed, nor was he given a volunteer role at any time.
- Charity Commission investigation & Retaining Charitable Status: On 15 March 2013 iERA was investigated by the Charity Commission. The Commission closed the investigation on 4 November 2016. iERA’s charitable status was never revoked or threatened with being revoked on any conditions at any time. iERA have an email by the Commission dated 19 May 2017 confirming that “the inquiry is closed and happy to confirm this”. Since then iERA has improved their management of the charity including safeguarding from extremism. The Commission’s investigation did not conclude that iERA supported or encouraged extremism. The Times’ story misleadingly presents a false link between a historical Charity Commission investigation and a terrorist incident.
- Involvement with iERA: Khalid Masood was never involved in iERA’s work, either as a volunteer or any other similar capacity. Nor was he known to our staff. The false link that has been implied between Masood’s involvement with iERA (a direct debit) and his path to violence is patently false and unethical.
- Anachronous statement: The report mentions an anachronous statement attributed iERA’s chairman made prior to iERA’s formation. That statement has since been clarified and retracted. It is misleading to present a link between a terrorist incident and a clarified and retracted statement made over 20 years.
iERA informed the Charity Commission and anti-terror police about the tenuous link the day after the attack, once they had performed their regular checks when such an incident occurs. It was reported that the attacker used to donate to the organisation. A serious incident report was filed and police thanked iERA for their speedy cooperation.
In light of the above, it is clear that The Times’ misleading and factually inaccurate article has attempted to demonise iERA, portray a false narrative about their work and Khalid Masood’s involvement. iERA will be pursuing a robust legal response.
iERA have robust processes and procedures in place that ensure their trustees deliver on their legal and statutory duties. iERA is committed to conveying the call by advancing the Prophetic Mission, which is reconnecting humanity back to their Creator. They aim to achieve this with compassion and reason.