It looks like the right-wing press is resuming its hysterical campaign against the proposed Tablighi Jamaat markaz at the Riverine Centre in Newham. “Bomb fear at mega mosque” is the shock horror headline to an article in the Daily Star Sunday, which follows the recent scaremongering report in the Evening Standard.
According to the Star: “Security forces feared extremists could use boats to smuggle explosives on to the site of a proposed mega mosque in East London during the Games. Spooks conducted a series of boating missions to test the possibility of terrorists bringing bombs into the Stratford area. Anti-terror chiefs thought they might use the River Thames, River Lea and a tributary known as the Channelsea River, which runs adjacent to the planned 12,000-seater mosque site in West Ham, East London.”
For confirmation of this dubious story, for which the Star offers no sources at all, the paper turns to local right-wing Christian bigot Alan Craig, who is quoted as saying: “No doubt the security forces have been watching it. I spoke some time ago to a number of anti-terror officers about it and they were certainly watching the situation with the Olympics coming up. This site is less than half a mile from Olympic stadia. They were quite concerned.” Craig adds: “Officers had been out in rubber boats on the river assessing the possibility of getting ordnance in via the river.”
It was Craig who issued a disgraceful press release in July 2007 claiming that Tablighi Jamaat had inspired the attempted terrorist attacks in Glasgow and London. I suppose it’s possible that anti-terror officers discussed their operational plans with this fundamentalist crank, but it strikes me as highly unlikely.
Having stirred up its readers with unsubstantiated accusations of association with terrorism, the Star concludes its report by quoting the trustees of the Riverine Centre as stating: “There are no such security concerns regarding Tablighi Jamaat. These people are just interested in constructing a building that is suitable for their faith. There is nothing sinister going on.”