The Hamas leader who previously ran operations in the West Bank is currently living in a state-funded home in the London borough that is home to the UK’s largest Jewish population, the New York Post reported.
Last weekend, the UK Sunday Times reported that Muhammad Qassem Sawalha recently purchased a £320,700 home in the borough of Barnet, only ten minutes away from two synagogues. The government offered Sawalha a £112,300 discount to buy the 2-story house that features a garden and garage.
Sawalha, 62, fled the West Bank for the UK in the 1990s using a passport belonging to a relative. He later claimed British citizenship, according to the Sunday Times.
Even after arriving in the UK, Sawalha continued to work for Hamas, holding secret meetings in which he discussed “revitalizing” terrorist attacks in Israel.
The US Justice Department in 2004 accused Sawalha of helping Hamas launder money, the Sunday Times reported.
Despite this, in June 2021, Sawalha and his wife Swasan availed themselves of the UK’s Right to Buy program to purchase their Barnet home, receiving a discount on the price of £112,300.
The borough of Barnet in northern London is home to the largest Jewish population in Great Britain, with approximately 56,616 Jewish people living there. According to the UK Office for National Statistics, roughly one-fifth of all UK Jews reside in Barnet.
The UK declared the military wing of Hamas a terrorist organization in 2001. The Iranian-backed group’s political wing was declared a terrorist organization by the UK twenty years later after Great Britain changed its classification to include the entirety of Hamas, describing the distinctions between its various wings as “artificial.”
In 2020, attorneys representing the state of Israel reported Sawalha’s background to the UK’s counterterrorism police.
According to the Sunday Times, an investigation is underway into whether Sawalha’s residency in the UK violates sanctions.