Other Group

The Quilliam Foundation

Formation:

2018

Termination:

2021

The Quilliam Foundation (also known as Quilliam) was a British counterterrorism think tank with an American affiliate that was founded by former Islamist extremists Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz in 2008. The organization translated terrorist documents, produced videos and reports analyzing terrorism, and had staff regularly interviewed by newspapers, magazines, and television shows in the U.S. and in Great Britain.

The Southern Poverty Law Center listed Maajid Nawaz in its “Field Guide to anti-Muslim Extremists”; the SPLC would ultimately pay Nawaz and Quilliam over $3.3 million as a settlement and retract the allegation. [1]

Quilliam Foundation closed in 2021. [2]

Origins

The Quilliam Foundation was founded in 2008 by Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz, both of whom had been members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group that a New York Times Magazine report stated “advocates the imposition of Shariah law through ‘bloodless’ coups in majority-Muslim countries first and ultimately in the West as well.” [3]

Both Husain and Nawaz said they broke with their extremist past and vowed to persuade Muslims to renounce violence. “We are trying to rescue our faith from those who have sadly hijacked it,” Husain said in 2008. “There is a Western Islam in the making and it is not arrogant or extreme.” [4]

The organization took the name “Quilliam” from William Quilliam, who converted to Islam in the 19th century and opened one of the first mosques in Britain. [5] The organization received some funding from the British government. [6]

The Quilliam Foundation’s American affiliate received $75,000 from the Bradley Foundation in 2013 [7] while the Templeton Foundation donated to the British Quilliam Foundation between 2013 and 2017 and also to Quilliam’s American affiliate. [8]

Activities

The Quilliam Foundation published reports about extremists in the Arab world and translated many documents put out by the terrorist group Islamic State, including one that urged terrorists to conquer Libya and use it as a “gateway” to control six other Arab nations, including Egypt, Sudan, and Algeria. [9] It translated another document produced by the al-Khansaa Brigade, an all-female affiliate of the Islamic State, which said that girls could marry at age nine, women’s education should end by 15, and “pure girls” should marry by 17. [10] The organization also developed a list of keywords that could determine if a teenager was susceptible to joining Islamic extremist movements, including “YODO” (“You Only Die Once”) and “kuffs,” derogatory slang for non-Muslims. [11]

Dispute with Southern Poverty Law C enter

In 2016 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Media Matters for America published A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Ant-Muslim Extremism which listed Quilliam’s Maajid Nawaz as “an ant-Muslim extremist” and claimed that both he and the Quilliam Foundation caused “hate-based violence” and “criminal hate violence.” [12]

SPLC’s Heidi Beirich, speaking at Duke University, charged that Nawaz “believes all mosques should be surveilled.” In an interview with New York Times Magazine, Nawaz denied that and the reporter wrote that Nawaz “is on record making the case against collective surveillance.” [13]

Speaking on the show “Real Time with Bill Maher” in 2017, Nawaz said he feared for his life after being branded an extremist by the SPLC, saying “we know what happens when you list heretics. They end up dead.” [14]

In 2018, the SPLC settled with Nawaz and agreed to pay him and the Quilliam Foundation $3.3 million. [15] Then-SPLC President Richard Cohen issued a statement that Nawaz and Quilliam “are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists.” [16]

Closure

In April 2021, the Quilliam Foundation went out of business. Maajid Nawaz wrote on Twitter that the reason was “the hardship of maintaining a non-profit during Covid lockdowns.” [17]

References

  1.  “SPLC Statement Regarding Maajid Nawaz And The Quilliam Foundation,”  June 18, 2018, https://www.splcenter.org/news/2018/06/18/splc-statement-regarding-maajid-nawaz-and-quilliam-foundation (accessed April 14, 2022) ^
  2. Alex MacDonald, “Quilliam:  British ‘Counter-Extremist’ Group Closes, Citing Lack of Funds,” Middle East Eye, April 9, 2021, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-quilliam-foundation-controversial-counter-extremist-closes ^
  3. Thomas Chatterton Williams, “Radical Ambition,” New York Times Magazine, April 2, 2017. ^
  4. Mark Rice-Oxley, “British Ex-Jihadis Form Ranks for Tolerance,” Christian Science Monitor, April 23, 2008. ^
  5. Thomas Chatterton Williams, “Radical Ambition,” New York Times Magazine, April 2, 2017. ^
  6. Norman Gelb, “Battling Jihadism in Britain, New Leader, September/October 2009. ^
  7. 2013 Lynde and Harry Bradley Form 990. ^
  8. 2013-17 John Templeton Foundation Form 990s. ^
  9. Adam Taylor, “Why the Islamic State Has Its Eyes on Libya,” Washington Post, April 8, 2015. ^
  10. Karla Adam, “” Islamic State Guide for Female Jihadists Says Women Can Marry from Age Nine,” Washington Post, February 5, 2015. ^
  11.  Stacey Teicher Lhadaroo, “Could School Computers Be a Tool In Preventing ISIS From Recruiting Teens?”, Christian Science Monitor, July 14, 2015. ^
  12. Christopher Dickey, “The Founder of Britain’s Anti-Extremist Quilliam Foundation Says that Now He’s Won Millions and An Apology from the Southern Poverty Law center, He wants to Move Forward with Them,” The Daily Beast, June 20, 2018. ^
  13. Thomas Chatterton Williams, “Radical Ambition,” New York Times Magazine, April 3, 2017. ^
  14. Sean Higgins, “Maher Wants to Be Part of Lawsuit Against Southern Poverty Law center,” Washington Examiner, June 24, 2017. ^
  15. Deepa Bharath, “Southern Poverty Law center Pays $3.4 million, Says Sorry, Over Description, Orange County Register, June 19, 2018. ^
  16. “SPLC Statement Regarding Maajid Nawaz And The Quilliam Foundation,”  June 18, 2018, https://www.splcenter.org/news/2018/06/18/splc-statement-regarding-maajid-nawaz-and-quilliam-foundation (accessed April 14, 2022) ^
  17. Alex MacDonald, “Quilliam:  British ‘Counter-Extremist’ Group Closes, Citing Lack of Funds,” Middle East Eye, April 9, 2021, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-quilliam-foundation-controversial-counter-extremist-closes (accessed April 14, 2022). ^
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