Charity under review after imam compared Hamas attack to Jews escaping Nazi camps

Sheikh Jaffer Ladak has caused controversy with his 'anti-Israel' statements on X, formerly Twitter
Sheikh Jaffer Ladak has caused controversy with his 'anti-Israel' statements on X, formerly Twitter

A charity which runs a Leeds mosque is being looked at by the Charity Commission after its imam compared the Oct 7 attack to Jews breaking out of Nazi concentration camps and criticised Jordan for intercepting Iranian missiles bound for Israel.

Sheikh Jaffer Ladak, the imam of the Baab-Ul-Ilm Centre, appeared to welcome Iran launching its attack and chided Gulf states for providing an “Arab Dome” for Israel.

The Baab-Ul-Ilm Centre is understood to be run by the trustees of Khoja Shia Ithnaasheri Muslim Community of Metro Leeds, which is a registered charity.

Its imam, Mr Ladak, has caused controversy with a number of his statements following the Oct 7 attack by Hamas and Israel’s subsequent military action in Gaza.

In a video posted on Instagram in January, he complained about the media asking Muslims if they “condemn Hamas” for the attack on Oct 7. He said: “The answer is actually no, why should we condemn?

“If this was 1945 and the Jews were in a concentration camp and broke out of that concentration camp and then attacked the Nazi military bases around that concentration camp, would anyone in history condemn the Jews for breaking out of their concentration camp? No.”

‘Fill their hearts with terror’

On the night of April 13, when news broke of Iran’s attack on Israel, Mr Ladak posted two comments in Arabic on X, formerly known as Twitter, appearing to welcome the assault.

“Fill their hearts with terror, and restrain their hands from extending, ” one post said.

The other said: “O Allah, empty their hearts of security, their bodies of strength, and bewilder their minds from deceit. Weaken their pillars from confronting men and make them cowardly from confronting heroes. Send upon them an army of Your angels.”

The two sentences appear in a part of a Shia prayer for the protection and victory of those who defend the Muslim community from its enemies.

In a sermon from the mosque streamed live on April 18, Mr Ladak criticised Jordan for intercepting the drones.

Referring to Western influence in the Middle East dating back to the First World War, he said: “With the [1916] Sykes-Picot agreement and the carving up of the Muslim world into nation-states, each of them waving their little flag, each of them having a king and a leadership that is put in place by the West, for the sake of the West, where are we 100 years later?... Shall I tell you where we are 100 years later? The Israelis, they don’t have an Iron Dome, they have an Arab Dome.

“It is Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the UAE that directly defend the Zionist regime, such that if Iran sends over its weaponry, it is the Jordanian king that makes sure that they are shot down… When he goes ‘I wouldn’t want these drones, no nation would want drones to be able to enter into its air space’, well how come Iraq allowed it, and how come Syria allowed it?... This is what Jordan is until today. The only good thing that Jordan has is Petra.”

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “We became aware of concerns about earlier statements made at the Baab-Ul-Ilm Centre Leeds in March 2024 and are engaged with relevant trustees on this matter. We will assess this new information, to decide if there is a role for the Commission.”

In a statement, the Khoja Shia Ithnaasheri Muslim Community of Metro Leeds said: “The charity would be failing in its duty if it neglected to educate and inform its congregation. Sheikh Jaffer Ladak expressed indignation at the Arab states aiding and abetting the plausible genocide in Gaza as determined by the International Court of Justice. The charity and Sheikh Jaffer Ladak feel they have been gratuitously subjected to a sustained campaign of Islamophobia, harassment, intimidation and denied their right to freedom of speech.”