Osama Saeed Does Bunk to Qatar, Leaving SIF Debts Behind Him

Osama Saeed, the failed Scottish Nationalist Party candidate, assistant to Alex Salmond, and Muslim Brotherhood supporter has buggered off to Qatar.

The man who famously called for a Caliphate on the pages of the Guardian, and who was a fan of Anwar Al Awlaki is the new Head of International and Media Relations at Al Jazeera. Not that Al Jazeera is a Muslim Brotherhood aligned station or anything.

He leaves behind him the SNP-backed Scottish Islamic Foundation: a family run business which is in a financial mess.

A Controversial Islamic lobbying group given £400,000 of public money has been deserted by its auditors after failing to pay them.

The Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF), which has close ties to the SNP leadership, failed to pay its accountants late last year.

Wylie & Bisset, whose report on the SIF’s 2009 annual accounts exposed numerous financial shortcomings, resigned in November.

In a letter to the foundation board, the company said it was severing its links as “fees owed to Wylie & Bisset in respect of the 2009 audit and other professional services supplied to the company remain unpaid”.

The development raises questions about the future of the foundation, which ended its last financial year £4800 in the red – a position the auditors said cast “significant doubt” on its ability to continue as a going concern.

Wylie & Bisset also said they were “unable to determine whether adequate accounting records had been kept” or verify the foundation’s income.

Founded in 2008 to improve community relations, the foundation was soon mired in allegations of cronyism after being given more than £400,000 in public money by the SNP Government.

Its first chief executive was Osama Saeed, a former assistant to First Minister Alex Salmond. At various times, the board also included Mr Saeed’s wife, two of his brothers, a cousin and his cousin’s girlfriend.

In 2009, the group was forced to repay £128,000 after failing to deliver an Islamic festival.

Three days after the audit report on the foundation’s accounts, Mr Saeed resigned.

The SNP insisted he left to focus on standing as a candidate in last year’s General Election. He has since given up on Scottish politics to work for broadcaster Al Jazeera in Qatar.

However his cousin, Humza Yousaf, another aide to Mr Salmond and a foundation director until 2009, is almost certain to become a Glasgow MSP in May through the list system.

Labour MSP Des McNulty, said: “This is a continuing embarrassment for the SNP. Key SNP activists were centrally involved in setting up the foundation. They appear to have jumped ship and auditors bills have been unpaid.”

Yeah. It is all a bit George Galloway, isn’t it?

I can see why a job in Qatar might appeal at this particular time.

Alec writes: It is important to remember that the correctly punctuated name of the former quango headed by Saeed is the ‘Scottish-Islamic Foundation’.

I wrote before that I am prepared to put down the one about a return to the Caliphate to youthful exuberance, being born out of his [still] ill-formed politics and childish syllogisms concerning the Sykes-Picot Plan.

I doubt he is an Islamist in the classical sense, and definitely more urbane and travelled than many even of the senior SNP team (his flight to Qatar will take in more air 1.6 kilometres than a fair chunk combined of weighty SNP figures have travelled, barring official engagements, in the past 2010) and lacks the carefully crafted feelings of grievance towards the English (gawd, how boring it has been to listen to predictions that Andy Murray is “Scottish” he has lost at tennis). He is more a political and religious sectarian, which Scotland has more than enough out.


Lucy Lips responds

Osama Saeed is his own man, and follows his own star.

However, his associations – from his days with the Muslim Association of Britain to his activities with the Scottish-Islamic Foundation – have shown a strong bias towards Muslim Brotherhood-related figures and institutions. I can expand if necessary.