Muhammad Qassem Sawalha: From West Bank Militancy to London Suburbia
In a surprising revelation, it has come to light that Muhammad Qassem Sawalha, a former operative of Hamas – a group designated as a terrorist organisation by the UK government, has been residing in a council house in London. Sawalha, alleged to have managed terrorist activities in the West Bank, fled to the UK in the 1990s, and later secured British citizenship. Despite being a marked individual by Israeli authorities, Sawalha managed to continue his association with Hamas, even representing the group in high-level delegations to Russia as recently as 2019.
The narrative unfolds in Barnet, a North London borough with the highest Jewish population in the UK. Sawalha, along with his wife, utilised the Right to Buy scheme in June 2021 to purchase their council house at a discounted price of £112,300 off its market value. This development stirs discomfort, especially when juxtaposed against the backdrop of a housing crisis that has beleaguered the borough for years.
Sawalha’s entrenched involvement with Hamas, even after relocating to the UK, has been well-documented. His name appeared in a US indictment concerning a racketeering conspiracy to finance terrorist activities in Israel in 2004. Despite these concerning affiliations, Sawalha has never been charged with crimes in the UK.
Barry Rawlings, the head of Barnet council, expressed his dismay and confirmed the launch of a review into Sawalha’s purchase of the council house. This investigation seeks to probe into the history of the case in collaboration with the police and the government.
The disclosures now raise unsettling questions regarding the scrutiny mechanisms in place. They beckon an inquiry into how a former Hamas operative could seamlessly blend into the community, purchase property, and interact with senior UK politicians, all under the nose of the Home Office and security services.
The story brings to the forefront the juxtaposition of the UK’s robust housing schemes against the backdrop of its national security apparatus. It underlines a dire need for a more stringent scrutiny process, ensuring that individuals with potential terror affiliations do not slip through the cracks, posing unforeseen risks to the community and beyond. Story source