A woman suspended by the Labour Party after being identified as running a Twitter account responsible for antisemitic tweets was arrested as a “terror suspect” in 2015, it has emerged.
On Wednesday Labour confirmed to the JC that Laura Stuart, who was a member of the Hendon branch of the party, had been suspended. The move came after Councillor Adam Langleben, a Jewish Labour politician, published a series of tweets from the “GazaBoatConvoy” Twitter account.
Examples of tweets from the GazaBoatConvoy account which he shared include: “Hear it from a Jewish grandmother how Jews love money and are a bunch of crooks”, “Must still be plenty shekels to be wrung out of the memory of the Holocaust. #HolocaustIndustry” and “All Jews are above the law – as in, they cheat the laws of Moses etc. God gives edicts, they set their Rabbis to find ways around them”.
Now the JC has learned that Ms Stuart, a British convert to Islam who was one of the passengers on the 2010 Gaza flotilla, was arrested in November 2015, and wrote a piece the next year talking about her experiences as a “terror suspect”.
Ms Stuart was held for a few hours before being released, and was not subsequently charged. In her article she wrote that “the accusation on the bail form was that I shared media that could promote terrorism.”
She also said “it was mentioned that I had shared a YouTube video by Anwar al Awlaki, in particular [a video called] ‘The Dust Will Never Settle’, and I was asked if I agreed with his views.
“Since it is a talk widely available on the internet without any warning that it may be illegal to watch or share it, I had at some time no doubt done so, but I could not remember specifics.”
Anwar al Awlaki was a US-Yemenite Imam, believed to have been a senior recruiter and motivator for Al Qaeda. People alleged to have been radicalised by al Awlaki include Nidal Malik Hassan, who carried out the mass shooting at the Fort Hood US army base in 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “Underwear bomber” and Faisal Shahzad, convicted for the 2010 Times Square bombing attempt. Al Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
Ms Stuart said that upon her release, one of the things she did was to “call CAGE so that my case would be logged.” She went on to refer to CAGE as an organisation which was “essential and deserve[s] our support with donations, they have so much experience dealing with people accused of terrorism and really are almost the only people you can turn to or talk to in this situation.”
CAGE has been described as an Islamist organisation, with its research director infamously referring to Mohamed Emwazi, AKA “Jihadi John”, a British Muslim who had gone to fight for ISIS, as a “beautiful young man” a day after he was identified as the person likely responsible for the beheading of civilian prisoners in Syria.
“I want people to read this and understand that many, many, Muslims, and even non Muslims, are being arrested under the terrorism act and a huge number lead to N.F.A [No Further Action]”, Ms Stuart wrote. She added that “recently, fellow activists have been arrested for things as diverse as flying a Hizbollah flag to alleged antisemitism.”
Councillor Langleben shared the tweets from the “GazaBoatAccount” on Tuesday evening, saying that although he had reported the person behind the account to the Labour party four months beforehand, no action had been taken. He did not, however, mention Ms Stuart by name.
In response to a query about the case from the JC, a Labour party spokesperson said: “Laura Stuart has been suspended from Labour Party pending an investigation.”
However, in what was clearly an attempt to conceal Ms Stuart’s identity, the party sent a second email minutes later, in which her name was omitted.
The email read: “A Labour Party member has been suspended from Labour Party pending an investigation into this case. The Labour Party is committed to challenging and campaigning against antisemitism in all its forms."
The message was accompanied by an apology for “any confusion”.