Row over £215k ‘terror-link’ festival

Alex Salmond agreed to hand over £215,000 for an Islamic festival in Scotland following a meeting with a former military commander of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Documents obtained by The Sunday Times reveal Salmond approved the grant following the meeting between culture minister Linda Fabiani and Mohammed Sawalha, who is alleged to have directed terror operations in the West Bank.

The meeting, in January, was also attended by Osama Saeed, founder of the Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF) and an SNP activist who is expected to contest the Glasgow Central seat at the next Westminster election. Sawalha was invited to take part in the meeting to discuss the funding of IslamFest in Glasgow next year.

The event, being organised by the SIF, is modelled on London’s IslamExpo, run by Sawalha. IslamExpo was boycotted by UK ministers earlier this year because of its links to Hamas.

Sunday Times, 12 October 2008

See also Scotland on Sunday which reports:

A spokesman for Fabiani said: “The former Labour London mayor Ken Livingstone suggested meeting the official organisers of IslamExpo, and Ms Fabiani met with them in that capacity to hear about their experiences of running this highly successful inter-community event. It would be totally inappropriate to have such routine matters determined by unproven allegations against any individual, who has not been questioned in this country for any wrongdoing.”

He added: “Scotland has strong inter-faith and inter-community relations, mercifully free of much of the internet-based smear and slander that goes on elsewhere. In any event, IslamFest will be a specifically Scottish event, with its own distinct focus, and is being organised by the Scottish Islamic Foundation. The previous administration had agreed funding for an IslamFest event in Scotland, which was progressed by this Government.”