New evidence raises doubts about extremist plot to take over school
By Dominic Kennedy, Greg Hurst and Ruth Gledhill
A letter at the centre of an alleged jihadist plot to take over schools contains errors that suggest it is a fake.
A fortnight ago it was revealed that Birmingham City Council had handed over papers to West Midlands Police purporting to show a plan by Muslim fundamentalists to take over state schools. The documents highlighted a five-step strategy, called Operation Trojan Horse, to remove unwanted head teachers in order to establish schools run on Islamic principles. The document appears to show that the conspirators were working to remove a primary school headmistress who was actually dismissed 20 years ago.
The blunder undermines the authenticity of the anonymous letter. The error emerges in a passage detailing how plotters can take over schools. “The parents MUST be given direction and told not to discuss this with anyone, you only need a maximum of 4 parents to disrupt the whole school, to send in complaints, to question their child’s education and to contact their MP and local Authority,” it states. “We did this perfectly to Noshaba Hussain from Springfield School. However, the Governors reappointed her so now we have another plan in place to get her out.”
In fact, Ms Hussain was dismissed in 1994. Raghib Ahsan, a former Labour councillor for the area who went on to become chairman of governors at the school, was astonished to be told about the claim in the letter. “That’s a total lie,” he said: “We got rid of Noshaba Hussain. There was no religious issue. There was no such thing, if they are trying to take credit for it I was Sparkhill councillor at that time.”
Press reports from the 1990s described how a petition by 50 parents was sent to the council, organised by Mr Ahsan, who has since become a lawyer. He was concerned as to whether she was qualified for the post. Parents were unhappy because she had no previous paid experience teaching primary pupils. She was removed when education chiefs found inaccuracies on her application form, the Local Government Chronicle reported.
The crudeness of the apparent forgery is underlined by another error. The letter identifies two Birmingham schools where the plotters claim credit for removing head teachers late last year. However, the author appears to have muddled up their departure dates.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said yesterday: “Clearly some very serious allegations have been made. They required investigation but the idea that there was an organised plot . .. seemed far-fetched.”
The paper fails to mention that it was its sister publication the Sunday Times that broke the nonsensical story in the first place, under the headline “Islamist plot to take over schools”, giving credence to this blatant forgery. Perhaps Times Newspapers might now consider issuing an apology for its irresponsible journalism?
Update: See also “An Islamophobic lie goes half way round the world”, Insted Consultancy News, 10 March 2014
Update 2: See “Alleged Islamic plot to take over Birmingham schools may be hoax”, Guardian, 13 March 2014
Update 3: See also “Birmingham’s Trojan Horse hoax — brief update”, Insted Consultancy News, 14 March 2014