Theresa May 'holding back' report on Saudi Arabia funding UK extremists

Report is believed to be in the UK PM's possession for the last six months

News Desk July 04, 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May shakes hands with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during a visit to Riyadh on 5 April 2017. PHOTO: Reuters

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of burying a report that confirms Saudi Arabia is funding Islamic extremism in the UK fearing that it may damage relations with their ally.

The report, which was commissioned by David Cameron last January, was due to be completed by April, and is currently believed to be in May’s possession for the last six months. The premier has yet to decide whether to make its findings public or not.

The Green party co-leader, Caroline Lucas, said the delay in publishing the Home Office investigation, believed to be focusing on Saudi Arabia, “leaves question marks over whether their decision is influenced by our diplomatic ties”.

Britain's May under pressure to release Saudi terror funding report

The study, which began while May was still home secretary, was designed to examine the origins and scale of funding of terror groups in the UK with an additional remit to follow international funding streams. But since the beginning of her premiership, May has sought to deepen the UK’s relationship with the Gulf, as she visited Saudi Arabia as one of her first trips after triggering the Brexit process.

The whereabouts of the report into foreign funding of extremism and radicalisation in the UK became a controversial issue in the final days of the general election after the terror attacks in Manchester and London Bridge. In written answers to Lucas, the Home Office and Downing Street said that the prime minister was personally responsible for the release of the report.

The response read, “The review into the funding of Islamist extremism has improved the Government’s understanding of the nature, scale and sources of funding for Islamist extremism in the UK. Ministers are considering advice on what is able to be published and will report to Parliament with an update in due course.”

Last month, a spokesperson for the Home Office told The Guardian that the report may never be published as its contents were “very sensitive”.  Since coming to power in July last year May has courted the conservative kingdom, which is one of the main buyers of UK-made arms.

May to raise 'hard issues' with Saudi Arabia, stand up for UK interests

Several British ministers have visited Saudi Arabia over the last year to cultivate trading relationships as the UK looks for post-Brexit trading partners and the kingdom, under new Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, is trying to diversify its economy away from oil.

“It's not good that Theresa May is suppressing a report into the foreign funding of extremist groups. We have to get serious about cutting off funding to these terror networks, including Islamic State, here and in the Middle East,” Jeremy Cobyn said.


This article was originally published in The Guardian.

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