A charity linked to an NHS chaplain is being looked into by the regulator after sending a delegation to meet with the Taliban.
The Charity Commission said it was launching a regulatory probe into Human Aid & Advocacy over a trip last month where imams visited the Afghanistan regime and praised leaders.
During the trip, delegates met with the Taliban’s foreign minister, Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, and visited places around Kabul.
The Taliban claimed when it took over it would allow women to study and work but since then has suppressed women’s rights, banning girls secondary schools and later banning women from Kabul parks.
Delegates included NHS chaplain Suliman Gani
Delegates included Suliman Gani, an NHS chaplain who sits on the charity’s Islamic scholars board and said he was “very impressed” by the Taliban government.
“Afghanistan now is prospering in the sense that there is peace … I think this is the most critical point for the people living in Afghanistan.”
Afghan TV said the group met the “minister of vice and virtue” and that the visiting clerics “wanted to see the Taliban government with their own eyes” and had found the Western media’s portrayal “different to the reality”.
Charity described trip as a “fact finding mission”
Human Aid & Advocacy described the trip as a “fact finding mission” and said it took part in a “series of meetings between the scholars and Afghan officials.”
“The Muslim leaders travelled from Britain in order to better understand the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people and witness some of the current aid projects established by Human Aid & Advocacy in the country.”
The charity added: “Human Aid & Advocacy continues to call for the end of sanctions that are collectively punishing the Afghan people”.
Nur Choudhury, the charity’s chair, said in a video from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover “thank God, the country is free now” and attended an event earlier this month where speakers praised the Taliban.
The new questions over the organisation will be the third time the charity commission has looked at Human Aid & Advocacy.
Investigation in 2013 over event
In 2013 it was investigated over claims it co-hosted an event which had speakers who held “controversial and/or extremist” views and was found mismanagement in relation to its due diligence.
Six years later it faced another investigation and had restrictions placed on sending funds abroad. A report by the commission in 2021 said that a non profit organisation the charity had partnered with police believed was being used to support Al-Qaeda associates in Syria.
The report said that the charity transferred £246,000 to the organisation between February and July 2018 but the relationship did not continue after the charity was made aware of the regulator’s concerns.
The charity has not received public grants but has benefitted from more than £300,000 in gift aid from HMRC.
Human Aid & Advocacy should be stripped of its charitable status
Charlotte Littlewood, an extremism expert at the International Centre for Sustainability, said that Human Aid & Advocacy should be stripped of its charitable status.
“Of late organisations seem to be growing more outspoken, it reflects a mainstreaming of extremist narratives seen across social media platforms.
“The Taliban may now be in power but it still is a terroristic regime that strips women of their rights and employs strict Sharia law. I welcome the charity commission’s investigation, quick and robust action is needed to curtail a worrying trend that is drawing in young Muslims in the UK.”
A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “We are aware of reports about Human Aid & Advocacy and as a result have opened a regulatory compliance case to assess this further.”
Compliance cases are not formal investigations but allow the regulator to make further inquiries and look for failures and weaknesses in management.