Mosque chairman demands removal from banks’ terrorism blacklist

A chairman of a London mosque has demanded to be removed from a confidential terrorism blacklist used by 49 of the world’s biggest 50 banks.


File image of Finsbury Park mosque. (The Guardian)

Mohammed Kozbar said the blacklisting of his Finsbury Park mosque could alienate and demonize members of the community and said he was “shocked and astonished” to see his mosque had landed into the terrorism list.

Finsbury Park mosque, as well as other Islamic bodies including think tanks and organizations was found to be a terror risk by World-Check, an analysis database owned by financial information giant, Thomson Reuters.

The mosque made headlines during the 90s when it had solid links to the radical cleric, Abu Hamza. However, Kozbar insinuates he has worked hard to rid the mosque of its extremist past and has been striving to integrate with the wider community.

“The prime minister is talking about integration and Muslims engaging more in wider society – this is exactly what we are trying to do, and look what’s happened. We’ve found that we’ve been forced to deal with the Islamic bank only,” Kozbar said.

“We are a part of wider society and we want to deal with other mainstream banks and high street banks but our accounts have been closed unfortunately. Unless we do something about it, the Muslim community will always feel they are alienated and demonised.”

An HSBC spokesperson said: “For a business customer these factors may include the type of activities the business is involved in, the jurisdictions in which it operates and the banking products and services it uses. Although we can’t always provide customers with specific reasons for closing an account, any such decisions are not taken lightly and are not based on a customer’s race or religion.

“We are committed to working with the UK government and industry bodies to support the not-for-profit sector and to help charity customers manage risk in their operations.”

Although Thomson Reuters refused to discuss individuals’ entries, a spokesman said:

“Many of our customers will consult several sources to meet their regulatory ‘know your customer’ obligations in making KYC decisions. The World-Check research methodology uses specialist research teams led by subject matter experts with deep domain knowledge focused on topics such as sanctions, terrorism and insurgency, organized crime and Middle East security.”

“World Check aggregates financial crime data, including sanctions data from government and law enforcement authorities, to help financial institutions satisfy anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations. It also provides secondary identifying information on individuals, such as dates and place of birth, and this will be similarly verified with reputable and official sources,” he added.