Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Muhammad Qassem Sawalha, 62, has been said to be living in London (Picture: Getty)

A Hamas chief is living in a London council house despite allegedly running violent operations in the West Bank, a report has revealed.

Muhammad Qassem Sawalha, 62, was given a £112,300 discount on the £320,700 two-storey home by Barnet Council.

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Considered Hamas’ ‘representative in the UK’, Sawalha’s discount was £500 short of the maximum allowed through Right To Buy.

He and his wife Sawsan, 56, live mortgage-free in the Colindale house, which has a garden and garage, The Sunday Times reports.

He was born in Tubas, West Bank, but arrived in the UK from Jordan in the early nineties as a fugitive.

Mr Sawalha, served on Hamas’s ruling body, managed to steer clear of Israel’s security services using a relative’s passport and left for the UK in the 1990s, before later gaining British citizenship, it was reported.

Mr Sawalha was also given a discount on his home (Picture: Getty)

He is accused of running Hamas operations in the West Bank (Picture: REUTERS)

In the UK, Sawalha continued to work for Hamas. He held secret discussions about ‘revitalising’ terrorist acts in Israel and helping to launder money to fund activities in the West Bank and Gaza, according to a 2004 US Department of Justice indictment.

In 2003, the father of four became a council tenant at the two-storey home with a garage and a garden in Colindale.

Some 56,616 Jews live in the borough of Barnet, the highest Jewish population of any in Britain, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The council’s leader, Barry Rawlings, said he was ‘horrified to think [Sawalha] could be living in our midst’ and noted that he had launched a review.

He said: ‘We will liaise with other stakeholders including the police and the government in reviewing the full history of this case and will take all appropriate action.

‘This has emerged at a time when communities locally are in desperate need of reassurance following the escalating conflict in the Middle East, and we have a responsibility as the council to ensure we can give that reassurance.’

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In 2020, Rawlings said that the UK Lawyers for Israel campaign group had informed the council of Sawalha’s background and that, as soon as it had received this information, officials ‘reported it to the counterterrorism unit at the Met Police’.

National Terrorist Financing Investigation Unit officers determined whether the tenancy agreement may have contravened sanctions legislation.

But a spokesman said ‘the evidential test was not met’ and there was no further action taken.

The sale of the property the following year has not been subjected to an investigation.

In 2019, Sawalha met Vladimir Putin’s deputy foreign minister at an official Hamas delegation to Moscow. He served on Hamas’s politburo from 2013 to 2017 and he was photographed with the group’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, in 2010 and 2012.

In 2009, Sawalha signed a declaration that commended Allah for having ‘routed the Zionist Jews’, made a plea for weapons to be sent to Gaza, and demanded a ‘Third Jihadist Front’ be set up in Palestine, alongside Afghanistan and Iraq.

Israel’s defence ministry has officially designated Sawalha as belonging to Hamas and he will face arrest should he return.

Despite his controversial activities, Sawalha was able to gain a British passport in the early Noughties. Home Office guidance states that anyone who ‘incites, justifies or glorifies’ terrorist violence or ‘seeks to provoke others to terrorist acts’ will be denied citizenship under ordinary circumstances.

Sawalha has never faced any charges in the UK.

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