Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

A Hamas leader who allegedly ran the terrorist group’s operations in the West Bank has been hiding out in a state-funded home in a borough of London that has the highest Jewish population in all of Britain, according to a report on Sunday.

Muhammad Qassem Sawalha was recently given a £112,300 discount (about $136,500) on a £320,700 (nearly $390,000) two-story home with a garden and garage located less than 10 minutes from two synagogues in Barnet in the UK capital, The Sunday Times reported.

The 62-year-old fugitive fled to the UK in the 1990s using a passport of a relative and later claimed British citizenship, the newspaper reported.

While living in the UK, Sawalha was still allegedly able to continue his work for Hamas remotely and would hold secret meetings about “revitalizing” terrorist acts in Israel, according to The Times.

He also helped the terror organization launder money, according to a 2004 US Department of Justice indictment.

Muhammad Qassem Sawalha was recently given a £112,300 discount on a £320,700 two-story home in the London borough of Barnet. Getty Images

Sawalha and his wife Sawsan, 56, used Britain’s Right to Buy scheme to purchase their home at a steal in June 2021- getting a markdown on its market value that was just £500 (about $607) less than the maximum discount available during the fiscal year, the report said.

The borough of Barnet where the home is located has the highest Jewish population in all of Britain. About 56,616 Jewish people live there, roughly a fifth of the Jewish population in all of the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The borough’s leader, Barry Rawlings, told The Times he was “horrified to think [Sawalha] could be living in our midst” and said he had launched a review.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

The Hamas leader moved into the London borough with the highest Jewish population in the UK. rabbit75_fot – stock.adobe.com

In 2009, Sawalha signed an infamous declaration that praised Allah for having “routed the Zionist Jews,”  and called for weapons to be sent to Gaza while demanding a “Third Jihadist Front” be opened in the West Bank alongside Iraq and Afghanistan.

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs published a report in 2019 that claimed Sawalha was Hamas’ “representative in the UK” but that while on Hamas’ politburo between 2013 and 2017, he was “in charge of [its] foreign relations.”

Hamas’ military wing was declared a terrorist organization by the UK in 2001.

The same distinction for the group’s political wing was not granted until much later, in 2021, when the UK classified Hamas as a terrorist organization in its entirety and said any distinction between its various branches was “artificial.”

Muhammad Qassem Sawalha reportedly ran Hamas operations in the West Bank from London. Getty Images

Lawyers for Israel in the UK reported Sawalha’s background in 2020 to counterterrorism police.

An investigation has now been launched into whether his tenancy violated sanctions, The Times reported.

When contacted by The Times, lawyers for Sawalha said the newspaper’s approach contained a “number of serious false allegations,” and that “Mr Sawalha is a law-abiding British citizen.”  

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