Trojan Horse ‘links to terror’ Andrew Gilligan, Telegraph, June 8, 2014
Radical school’s parents leader has been to Syria to support rebels and helps extreme groups
Oldknow Academy in the Small Heath district of Birmingham Photo: Peter Summers/ Newsteam
A key spokesman for one of the Birmingham “Trojan Horse” schools, who is defending it against allegations of a hardline Muslim takeover, has close links to alleged terrorists, The Telegraph can disclose.
Belal Ballali is spokesman for the newly-formed Oldknow Academy Parents’ Association, which is officially endorsed by the school.
He is a mainstay of Oldknow’s efforts to rally parents and the community against a highly-critical Ofsted report being published tomorrow. He appeared last week on Sky News saying that claims of extremism at the school “beggar belief”.
However, The Telegraph can disclose that Mr Ballali has made at least one, and possibly as many as three, recent trips to Syria and fiercely supports what he calls the “heroic” British citizens, estimated to number 400, currently fighting in the country’s civil war.
On his Facebook page, he writes: “Why is the media criminalising our heroes, who have left the UK and gave up (sic) their lives for the freedom of the Syrian people?” Mr Ballali also criticises the police and security services over the “harassment that they deal out to those who return from Syria.”
‘Trojan horse’ teacher breaks into girl’s phone, 18 May 2014
Extremists and the ‘Trojan Horse’ approach in state schools, 09 Mar 2014
There is no evidence that Mr Ballali has himself taken part in the fighting.
In one visit to Syria, of which The Telegraph has seen evidence, he says he is merely driving an ambulance.
However, he is an active core supporter of the campaign to free Moazzam Begg, the Birmingham-based former Guantánamo detainee currently awaiting trial on charges, which he denies, of providing terrorist training and funds for attacks in Syria.
Mr Ballali has also raised money for HHUGS (Helping Households Under Great Stress), a charity which has defended convicted Islamist terrorists.
On March 2 this year, Mr Ballali attended a demonstration outside the Ministry of Justice against Mr Begg’s charges and has compared the case against him to Hitler’s persecution of the Jews.
Mr Ballali’s personal YouTube channel also includes a video entitled “Tips for the Mujahideen on the ground”.
In a 2007 memo to a House of Lords committee, Mr Ballali disputed that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, at the time a close ally of al-Qaeda, was a terrorist organisation.
In video footage of one of Mr Ballali’s trips to Syria, in autumn 2012, shown on his YouTube channel, he is wearing a T-shirt with the logo of Human Care Foundation Worldwide (HCFW).
HCFW, also known as Human Care Syria, has the same address in Ealing, west London, as several charities connected to the terror group Hamas.
HCFW has recently received funding from Human Appeal International, a charity alleged by the FBI and US to have terrorist links.
Another key spokesman used by Oldknow to defend itself also has links to those pursuing an Islamic agenda in Birmingham’s education sector.
Speaking on Channel 4 News last week Samir Rauf, a teacher at the school, denied the existence of any extremist plot.
He said the claims made him “feel really angry” and “really make me wonder what the world’s coming to.”
However, Mr Rauf is in fact a member of the “Educational Activists” group, hosted on the social media site Whatsapp.
This group of teachers, school governors and education consultants pursues what its leader, Razwan Faraz, calls an “Islamising agenda” in Birmingham state schools.
In the group messages, all of which have been leaked to The Telegraph, Mr Rauf, who is a governor at another Birmingham school, Small Heath, celebrates having secured the appointment of Shenaz Khan as its head teacher.
Mrs Khan is a close former colleague of Tahir Alam, the alleged ringleader of the “Trojan Horse” plot.
In messages sent between 10.28 and 10.38pm on Feb 5 this year, Mr Faraz says Mrs Khan “has to establish herself with minimum controversy for the first six months and lead the people [school staff] to believe in her before they believe in her policies.” Mr Rauf replies: “My exact words to her, Razwan.
“However at macro governor level [the] ball needs to start rolling.”
Mr Faraz advises: “Don’t pressurise her to start the Islamising agenda first.
“That will be a lot easier when she is respected as a leader.”
He then suggests that the Islamisation of Small Heath, currently a wholly secular school, will happen relatively quickly.
Mr Rauf replies: “Looks that way. Since I’ve been there we’ve had no conflicts or battles at governor level … until tonight. [The] dynamics have finally changed.”
Mr Faraz, the brother of a convicted terrorist and a key figure in the plot, is deputy head at Nansen Primary School, another of the schools allegedly taken over.
He is a close friend of Mr Rauf.
The two worked together in another charity, Ethar Relief, of which Mr Faraz was a trustee.
Pictures on the charity’s website show the two men at a social event together.
Ethar Relief has passed tens of thousands of pounds to Human Appeal International, a charity believed by the US to have terrorism links.
As this newspaper disclosed in April, Oldknow, a primary rated “outstanding” by Ofsted in 2013, will tomorrow be one of six Birmingham schools graded “inadequate” for leadership and management because of the plot.
Its leadership and governors will be removed.
In extensive interviews, multiple sources from the supposedly non-faith school said the successful secular head teacher who achieved the Ofsted rating, Bhupinder Kondal, was driven out earlier this year by hardline governors after attempting to resist an Islamising agenda.
Three of the school’s five deputy and assistant heads have also left since Christmas. Staff said that Christmas celebrations last year were cancelled, subsidised trips organised to Mecca and children were told that music was “un-Islamic”.
One parent, Mohammed Zabar, said Oldknow was “brainwashing” his 10-year-old daughter, who came home “saying she’s been told her hair or that [girls wearing] trousers are un-Islamic”.
In December the school’s Arabic teacher, Asif Khan, led pupils in anti-Christian chanting at assembly.
Oldknow is one of only a few primary schools where Arabic is compulsory for all students.
In recent weeks, the school’s leadership have been attempting to inflame parents and the community against what they describe as a “racist witch hunt” against the school.
Achmad da Costa, the school’s chairman of governors, has attempted to rally support from local mosques.
Pupils have been ordered to prepare protest banners and parents recently received a “ballot paper” from the school asking them to “elect” a seven-strong executive committee of the Oldknow Academy Parents’ Association.
However, there are only seven names, including Mr Ballali’s, on the ballot paper.
The ringleaders of the alleged plot to promote hardline Islamic teaching in Birmingham schools
The alleged ringleader of the plot, which he denies. A hardline Muslim Council of Britain activist who in 2007 wrote a detailed blueprint for the “Islamisation” of secular state schools mirroring what appears to have happened in Birmingham. Chairman of the Park View Educational Trust, which runs three of the six schools to be placed in special measures — Park View, Golden Hillock and Nansen.
Vice-chairman of governors at Highfield, another school allegedly targeted. Director of the Muslim Parents’ Association and former director of the Al-Hijrah Trust. Ran a special academy to train Muslim parents how to demand change in schools. All the key figures in the alleged plot have links to one or both of these organisations.
MONZOOR (MOZZ) HUSSAIN
Head teacher of Park View. According to a former teacher at the school, Nigel Sloan, he expressed “mind-blowing” anti-American views at assemblies, describing the US as the “source of all evil in the world”. The school denies this.
Brother Akhmed was deputy head of a school in Bradford where two head teachers left in disputed circumstances.
Monzoor Hussain (RICH EATON/SWNS.com)
ACHMAD DA COSTA
Chairman of governors at Oldknow, another school that will be placed under special measures tomorrow. Accused of driving out its respected secular head teacher, Bhupinder Kondal, and “Islamising” the secular academy.
Da Costa is a close friend of Tahir Alam and the co-director of the Muslim Parents’ Association.
Acting head at Oldknow. Formerly at hardline private Muslim school in Leicester. Has worked with Tahir Alam. Responded to Telegraph inquiries with an abusive tirade.
Chairman of governors at Nansen. Former chief executive of Al-Hijrah. Close friend of Tahir Alam and co-director of the Muslim Parents’ Association.
Made deputy head at Nansen, despite limited teaching experience. Formerly at Adderley, another school allegedly targeted, and Al-Hijrah Training Academy. Runs “Educational Activists,” a group of teachers and governors who pursue, in Mr Faraz’s words, an “Islamising agenda” in Birmingham schools. Brother of a convicted terrorist.
Former chairman of governors at the state-funded faith school run by Al-Hijrah — not one of those inspected in the latest round by Ofsted but placed in special measures last year. Sacked by Birmingham council last month over massive financial hole at the school, but has physically refused to allow his replacements into the building. Seconded as a “consultant” to another of the schools now being placed in special measures, Saltley, at the time the secular head, Balwant Bains, was removed. However, he denies any role in the removal. Saltley’s chair of governors at the time, Mohammed Ikhlaq, now works for Al-Hijrah.
Waseem Yaqub (SWNS.com)
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