Revealed: 'London office' of Iran terror Guards in heart of Jewish neighbourhood

Centre at heart of Jewish community ‘spreads the word of repressive regime’


The chair of the foreign affairs select committee has called on the government to shut down the “London office” of Iran’s brutal Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which lies in the heart of Jewish north London.

Senior Conservative MP Alicia Kearns told the JC that the Islamic Centre of England (ICE) in Maida Vale, which has publicly supported IRGC terrorists, was an “outreach centre” for the Iranian regime.

Her intervention added to mounting pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other European governments to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, in line with the US.

The IRGC oversees Iran’s funding and direction of terror groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, and controls its nuclear weapons and missile programme. Ms Kearns said ICE was was “solely there to spread the word of the Islamic repressive regime”.

ICE held a huge vigil for its terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani following his death in a US drone strike in 2020 with pictures showing children encouraged to honour him as a “martyr”.

It was also one of the locations used for an Iranian propaganda film, posted on IRGC-controlled websites, in which dozens of children sang a song that referenced an apocalyptic myth about massacring Jews — although ICE denied their “local version of the song” carried this meaning.

Backing calls for the IRGC to be proscribed by the government, Ms Kearns said ICE was being used to intimidate Iranian dissidents in the UK.

Its director, Seyed Moosavi, has previously described protesters against the regime as “soldiers of Satan” in a sermon at the centre in Maida Vale, central London.

The MP’s demands were echoed by the Community Security Trust (CST), which provides security advice to Jewish centres in the UK, including several leading synagogues located just minutes from ICE in nearby St John’s Wood.

A CST spokesperson said: “It is absurd that this centre, located in the heart of London’s Jewish community, is allowed to continue its activities, and even more outrageous that it is a registered charity, given its strong links to the government of Iran — a government with a long record of antisemitism, Holocaust denial and terrorism against Jewish communities.”

Ms Kearns told the JC: “We should close the ICE because there is no question that it is an arm of the Iranian state, and that it exists to spread the malign ideas of the worst characters in the IRGC. The Iranian community feels intimidated by it, and we should listen to that diaspora.”

ICE’s own rules say its head will act as the personal representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is also the leader of the IRGC and names all its commanders. ICE director Mr Moosavi, like his predecessors, was directly appointed by the Iranian cleric.

Ms Kearns said there was “no question that the IRGC should be proscribed as a terrorist organisation immediately. It commits terrorist acts on behalf of a hostile regime”.

Her latest comments came after she gave an interview to the BBC Today Programme.

During the broadcast she said: “I would like to see the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp office in Maida Vale closed. There is a, they like to call it an outreach centre, an Islamic centre. The head of it was appointed directly by the Supreme Leader of Iran. This is an organisation that is solely there to spread the word of the Islamic repressive regime.”

She also said that proscribing the IRGC “would be a big shift in policy because that would be the first time that we recognise that States can undertake terrorism.”

She added: “The reality is this is a terror state, they have tried to undertake ten assassinations in the UK over the last few years, they’ve undertaken more assassinations than any other state in Western Europe, in Ukraine they’re an aggressor, and they’ve regularly attacked our Kurdish allies, they’ve turned Syria into a drugs den, and militias in Iraq are backed by them, as well as Hezbollah and Hamas.

“This is a terrorist state that threatens us on so many levels beyond what we are currently seeing. Unfortunately we now have to change our posture.”

Meanwhile, Steve McCabe MP, the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said the government “should launch an urgent investigation” into ICE.

He said: “The Conservatives, under successive prime ministers, have been far too soft on Tehran. The sanctions are weak and poorly applied and it’s a disgrace they are still dragging their feet on proscribing the IRGC.

“I hope they’ll act quickly and for once seize the opportunity to make clear that the UK will not be a safe haven for the Iranian regime’s hateful propaganda, its agents or its surrogates.”

In response to the calls for its closure, an ICE spokesman told the JC: “I am not here to comment on any statement passed by said personalities. As we are the Charity regulated by the British law.

"We are nothing to do with what these speakers have said in their past.”

The spokesman added that when Mr Moosavi used the phrase “soldiers of Satan” he was referring not to peaceful protesters but “talking about the violent attackers to the place of worship, worshippers and other innocent members of the community”.

The calls for its closure and an investigation into its conduct will increase the focus on ICE, which sits behind an imposing façade of the former the Maida Vale Picture House and, later, the Mecca bingo social club. The art deco building, built in 1913, now houses an ornate mosque, offices and classrooms.

It was director Mr Moosavi’s decision to organise a vigil for General Soleimani which led to it facing increasing scrutiny over its ties to the repressive Iranian regime. If the IRGC is proscribed, legal experts say, a similar event would likely breach both charity and criminal law.

The vigil triggered an investigation by the Charity Commission, leading to an “official warning” and demands an “action plan” from ICE’s trustees.

But, in November, the authority said ICE had “failed to take account of regulatory advice”, and launched a statutory inquiry, which continues. Mr Moosavi has now stepped down from board of the limited company that runs ICE and as a trustee of its charity.

His replacement, Jafar Ali Najm, is general secretary and a trustee of an organisation called the Majlis-e-Ulama-e-Shia Europe, a grouping of scholars and imams, which also hailed Soleimani as a martyr.

However, the JC can reveal, ICE has long been propagating Israel-hatred and fanatical support for the Iranian regime with little attention from the UK authorities.
The catalogue of antisemitism disseminated by the ICE includes a sermon from Ayatollah Khamenei in which he said: “The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumour that must be removed.”

He added that Iran would “support any nation or group that fights the Zionist regime”.
Another Khamenei sermon published by ICE claimed: “Our people love fighting against the Zionists.

"By Allah’s favour and grace, we have helped Hezbollah of Lebanon — which is a Shia group — in the same way that we helped Hamas and Islamic Jihad and we will continue to do that…

“We managed to strengthen the fists of our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and by Allah’s favour, we will continue to do that.”
ICE also hosted an “Islamic Unity Conference” in 2020 which was addressed by Grand

Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, who has previously attracted global headlines when he claimed that the Nazis’ murder of Jews was “nothing but superstition” which “Zionists” had forced the world to accept.

Another frequent speaker is ICE “interfaith director” Saeed Bahmanpour who has he urged support for Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel.

He has said: “We are very proud of it. We don’t say that this is terrorism, it’s jihad, because they [Israelis] are occupiers and they fought against us”.

Meanwhile, last October, the star speaker at an ICE conference on Islamophobia was Ayatollah Hadavi Tehrani.

He has blamed “the Jews’ hand” for the killing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and has said: “Zionism is Jewish extremism and we are resisting it… it is harmful for all the humans, all the mankinds [sic] in the globe”.

Tehrani has said that refusing to wear the hijab — the trigger for the recent protests in Iran — was a serious crime whose perpetrators must be punished.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive